Rayanne Thorn is a regular contributor to intrepidNOW, the mastermind behind #TheGist. She writes about how to combat and leverage fear to your very distinct advantage…
Is it just me?
Whenever I am asked about retiring in the future, I bristle. Why? Because I love working – I cannot see myself just putting “work” aside and doing the things people do who don’t work day in and day out. I think this might be because I came to the type of work I do late in the game. I spent twenty years doing a job, not having a career. I found my career when I was about 37-years old – I discovered my purpose – a purpose, which appropriately enough, continues to evolve.
Think about the Future
My mom will be 79-years old in September. She has been the greatest influence in my life and I love her dearly. I recently visited her and accompanied her to her job – the work she has loved and done diligently for the last nine years. Yes, at 78 she has a job. My mom gets in her manual transmission 1993 Honda Civic in the Las Vegas heat and drives a little over a mile to her place of employment out in front of Mendoza Elementary School. My mom is a crossing guard at a very busy intersection on a four-lane highway. She works alongside two other guards who help children, their parents, and grandparents cross three different sections of this busy four-sided intersection.
She has been almost hit several times by motorists who fail to heed signs, flashing lights, and three neon-clad crossing guards. There are two or three incidences daily of cars rolling into the crosswalks, angry drivers who yell at or flip off the guards because they had to wait around 60 seconds for a crosswalk to clear.
My mom does this job with pride, both morning and afternoon. She has developed relationships with the students and their families, as well as with the various colleagues she has worked with over the years. She smiles, waves, and converses with many who cross. I asked if she would return in the fall, after her 79th birthday, she said, “Of course.”
She loves to work – I must get my love of working from her – “the busy man is the happy man,” she often admonished us as she raised her six children and five different foster kids. My mom could run a corporation, instead she ran a large family and started working in her forties in a nursing home as an Activities Director and built a career for herself. She is a great example of “It’s never too late.”
As I consider my own future, I am often afraid – will no one hire me or listen to me because I am over 50? Will no one see that I am part of “Now Gen”? – a term I coined to identify individuals like me – those who remember Dictaphones and Fax machines as awesome technologies – but who now embrace smart phones and social technologies as “business as usual.” Will I be subjected to bias based on my age or gender? Will I lose ground as my mind and body age? Will the CEOs emerging today, some half my age, be impressed by my hard-earned wisdom or will I be a leaf just dangling on a tree or vine, tossed by the winds of today, waiting to lose my grip on business?
My fears are valid. I started working when I was only 12 years old – I had my own businesses ironing and making doll clothes, cleaning houses. I evolved and learned new skills. I continue on that same path of personal evolution and lifelong learning. Will the world recognize that I am still a viable contributor to business today?
I have had disheartening experiences stemming from biases. But I have also seen a new level of acceptance and respect from the “Next Gen” as I stroll through the world of work, still searching and finding my own personal “better way.”
I guess I cannot consider retirement as even a future discussion worth having because I won’t be ready for quite sometime. I come by that honestly, naturally – I realized this as I watched my mother continue to beat her drum.
With considerable knowledge yet to gain and influence to share, I pick up my own drumsticks, position my drum, drop my sunglasses into place and face a bright future – so bright, I have to wear shades.
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