It’s way too easy to get caught up in the shoulda’, coulda’ woulda’ game. This is one game that is particularly difficult for older people to avoid – especially when they’re in transion.
We go through life making decisions based on the information we have at hand in the moment. Each decision takes us on a different path that brings us to the immediate present. Today we are the sum of those decisions.
Then comes a point of transition. At least, we sure hope the point of transition comes. We stop changing we die. We experienced many such transitions along the way. We went off to college (or not), choose our life’s work, got married had children, pursued particular hobbies and personal interests. Each of these decisions maked us who we are right now. And once again we reach another tansition. Our children leave home.. Our spouse dies. We look ahead to another 20-30 years of life and decide how we will spend that time.
You’d think transitions would be easier as you go along. But Boomers and those who have gone before discover fairly quickly that this is far from the truth. Do you set aside 20-30 years of pursuing a career? Do you continue to push forward doing what you love to do? Do you try something different? What’s the risk – what’s the gain?
The difficulty isn’t necessarily knowing where you want to go from here, although we’ve probaby learned to be more cautious when we were in our 20s. What’s more difficult in later years, is the call to explain ourselves and justify our choices to others. Try looking for work — or changing a career in your 50s or 60s and you soon discover that you’re spending a whole lot more time telling your life story and explaining how you got where you are and why you want to set off in your chosen direction.
Don’t get caught in the trap!! If you do you give weight to the naysayers who can always find a flaw – a reason you can’t do what you want to do. Heck we didn’t listen to the naysayers in years past – why start now?
Yes, we all want to fit in. We want to be accepted. But honestly, we’re all on our own unique paths. We meet others along the way. They can’t begin to understand where we’ve been or how we got here. They haven’t traveled our path.
We seniors, particularly, need to remember to be proud of where we’ve been, what we’ve learned. We need to remember that our travels have brought us a significant distance along life’s paths. We can’t assume that others can even begin to understand what we have experienced – unless they’ve been there, too. So, patience with other folk is definitely called for when they challenge our values and decisions.
When we’re turning a corner, whether it be in our 20s or in our 70s, it’s up to us to do what is best based on our understanding of who we are, where we’ve been and where we’re going. If others can’t understand, it’s not our job to try to convince them.. Our job is to do the most productive thing we can with every minute of the life we have. And, to do that we need to look for what the marketing gurus call "the hungry market". They tell us that it’s when we allow ourselves to get stuck in the constant explaining that we fail to accomplish our goals.
Now I know that today’s job market is contrary to this thinking. We’re called on to justify our ability to work. We’re expected to market ourselves and our talents. That’s all fine and good. But, it makes much more sense to set our direction and look for those who have similar goals and aspirations. Alfred Lord Tennyson once said, "Ours not to reason why, ours but to do and die" If our vision resonates with others, there really is no need to convince them. If they and we are aiming for the same goal, we can find ways to achieve that goal together. That’s when productivity begins.
Rather than trying to persuade others to see what you see, consider Wayne Dyer’s advice:
“Leave your reputation for others to debate; it has nothing to do with you.”
And go about your life’s work, whatever that might be. The secret of successful transitions at any age is to follow your dream…not to convince others that you can do it.