Tag Archives: baby boomers

Coffee, F Chords and Career Reinvention

I cannot pronate my wrists.  Unlike most other people who can turn their arms so that their wrists completely face upwards, I can only turn mine slightly outward.  It’s why I had so much trouble growing up and trying to learn bar chords on the guitar.  The F chord was my nemesis and I always got an F on trying to bar it. When I get my early morning coffee at the drive-up window I seem to be fated by the attendant handing me the coins on top of the bills which are on top of the receipt. I simply can’t turn my wrist in such way as to grasp my change without it spilling all over the ground between my car and the drive-up window inviting the cacophony of customers blowing their horns behind me. The regular attendants know me well enough by now that I’ve got them conditioned to hand me my change first then my bills. However, there’s always that one new or fill-in person that brings back bad memories of my F chords.

Recently on a day off I filled my car with gas at the same convenience mart at which I buy my morning coffee. I decided to walk inside to get my java jolt. The gentleman who took my order didn’t look up. He just repeated, “one medium coffee with one cream and two sweet and lows.” I handed him a twenty and as I did he looked up for a brief second then down again at the register remarking, “I think we can do better than that” and suddenly the senior discount was calculated into my purchase total. There was that flash of reality that my senior status was evident to the general public. I joked and said to the attendant, “It’s pretty scary when you don’t even have to ask for the discount!” His reply doubled my self-consciousness since he looked to me as if he had at least a decade jump start on my years: “I can’t wait to be eligible for senior discounts but I’ve got a way to go.”

I pronated my experience as if I had just barred the F chord for the first time. I realized that I had just been rewarded for being nothing more than who I am! And, isn’t that what career reinvention is all about: being who we truly are with the added gift of being positively recognized and rewarded for it. When we reinvent ourselves we move from a place of doing what others expect of us and not using our true talents and abilities to becoming master of our destiny. The essence of career reinvention is authenticity; becoming fully aware of the genuine calling within us and living our life in tune with it…with the espresso kick of not only being accepted for it but admired and rewarded along the way.

Change Before You Have To

My personality and style of relating to the world is such that when I know something is right and I feel the desire to go after it I take action and figure out the details along the way. Waiting for things to be perfect only delays action. I know people who are in perpetual safe mode making sure things are perfect before diving in. The downside of having to know everything before taking action is that we live in a time when new information is constantly being produced. In a single Internet second 54,907 Google searches are made, 7,252 Tweets are posted, 125,406 YouTube videos are watched, 729 photos are put on Instagram and over 2 1/2 million emails are sent. That makes the capacity for us to know everything an absolute impossibility. For those people stuck in in information immobility, the need to know everything can be an excuse for not moving forward, either out of fear of pursuing a goal and failing (or maybe succeeding!), conflicting motivations (Freud’s id-eg-superego triangle) or insecurity as to whether the expressed desire has been well thought out and is really what they want to do. Resourcing information that helps you reinvent yourself is invaluable. Using information overload as an excuse not to, is self-defeating.

For baby boomers, that age group born between 1946 and 1964, if there was ever a timely reason  to jump start your reinvention it’s called age discrimination. If you think staying in the job you’re in now is going to bring you future security or looking for an escape from an unsatisfying job is going to be easy, think again! Age discrimination is real. Two out of three employees between ages 45 and 74 have experienced age discrimination firsthand where they work. And, job seekers over 35 (yes, as young as 35) attribute age discrimination as the reason they didn’t get hired.

In spite of the fact that the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) makes it illegal to discriminate against workers age 40 and up, what takes place on the job is anything but age acceptance. While most people believe that age discrimination in the workplace begins to rear its ugly head around age 50, baby boomers’ own children are experiencing it. And, it’s cruelly ironic because 65% of employees age 55 and up are “engaged,” compared to 58% to 60% of younger employees. In spite of the fact that older workers bring more experience to the table, age discrimination comes in the form of their being labeled technologically averse, unable to get along with younger workers, stuck in their ways and not good for the bottom line. The United States obsession with youth is reflected in the Golden Age Index, a weighted average of seven indicators which reflect the labour market impact of workers aged over 55 in the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development)  countries. Iceland, New Zealand, Israel and Sweden take the top four spots, well over our own United States. In spite of the fact that we would be well-advised to have baby boomers active in the economy, this country appears blind to the facts that every month the more than a quarter-million Americans who open the golden parachute don’t contribute as much to the economy as workers do, they don’t spend as much as the average consumer and they’re much more likely to depend on others such as the  government or their own children versus supporting themselves.

For baby boomers, reinvention is the most sure way they have to be vital and contributing members of the business economy while giving themselves the meaning in life they so desperately crave and need. Being handed your pink slip is NOT the time to begin reinventing yourself. The time is NOW. Simply looking for a new job where the grass appears to be greener will only relocate the essential reasons you’re not finding career fulfillment now.

14% of millennials and 15% of gen x’ers have not yet outlined their career goals compared to 30% of baby boomers (similar to the 30% of baby boomers who haven’t planned for their retirement income).  Not defining your career goals based upon what you truly want to do and how you want to use your unique skills and abilities is the major reason that lack of meaning in your life follows you around like a dark shadow. Getting clarity on what you absolutely want to achieve in this life is key to personal happiness and fulfillment. Jobs don’t bring meaning. Doing meaningful work brings happiness. For baby boomers, the time is especially upon you to be brutally honest about what you want your legacy to be so that you can convert your dreams into your reality…NOW.