By Pat Meehan
There is nothing more enlightening than to watch a person who has worked for a company for thirty or more years to continue to improve himself/ herself and have visions of his/her career future. It is so commendable when a person, who is fifty something, decides to go back to school to work towards an Associate Degree or a Certification with the vision of moving forward in his/her career. This dedication to self-accountability is validation that a person never stops growing and always has a place to say, “Here’s where I am now, and I know where I want to go from here.”
Have you ever listened to a retired person who was bored with retirement and filled with frustration because he was lacking purpose? If you have heard this person, he may have said something like this: “Retirement, that’s just what I’ve been waiting for all of these years. It will be wonderful to play golf every day, travel to distant places, have the life of leisure, take walks in the park, and have no cares in the world. What a great life that will be, at least for a couple of months. I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to get bored already. I miss being in the thick of things, and interfacing with all of those great people I used to work with. I miss someone asking me to help figure out a better way to get something done. I miss my lunch hour.
I even miss all those meetings I used to complain about. I would give anything just to be in that meeting room again, sitting around the conference table, and arguing about which way is the right way to do something. It’s too bad I’m too old to get another job. You know, it’s strange, but my golf score is the best it has ever been, and I walk three miles every day. I never walked when I was in my thirty’s. The doctor says I’m in good enough shape to pass the Army’s physical exam, but what good would that do? The Army has an age limit. My company just had to come up with that blasted early retirement package, and they made it sound so good. It only seems like yesterday when I was 25 years old and was told I was the best candidate for the job. I guess I’m too old. I’d better get used to this retirement idea.”
It really doesn’t have to be this way. For the second time in your life, you can start a career, and it’s going to be more fun this time. You don’t have those little mouths to feed and those college tuition bills to pay like you did the first time around. This career is for you, and not because someone feels sorry for you. The fact is they need you very badly. Oh yes, I’m not kidding you about that. There is a talent shortage going on these days. Every time someone like you retires, the talent shortage problem gets bigger. There is a lack of wisdom, people skills, common sense, loyalty, dedication, and dependability in the work place today. You are just what the doctor ordered for many companies.
This talent shortage problem is going to get worse before it gets better. It’s people like you who can really make a difference and help solve this shortage problem. You are so important to today’s work force, and you can make a major impact by adding value to a growing company. This will be a great opportunity for the company that you choose to work for, and what a dramatic difference for you. You will find so much improvement in your quality of life, your emotional well being, and your continued career growth. You may not need the money as much as you used to, but it sure feels good to get that paycheck for a good day’s work. As a person who is accountable, the choice to work is yours. You don’t ever have to retire because you are too much in demand.
Ronald Reagan, who is considered one of the top five best Presidents of United States, was also the oldest President in history to be elected. He was re-elected again for a second term. In addition, he lived until age ninety three. In the Presidential Debates of 1984 between Ronald Reagan and Walter Mondale, a question was posed to President Reagan, regarding the age factor, and how he would respond to this issue. He replied, with wit and confidence, that he would never, for political purposes, exploit his opponent’s youth and inexperience, just to win an election. What a statement from this seventy three year old incumbent President seeking re-election. He hit a home run with that statement, and the election was one of the largest landslides of the century in a presidential election, and in favor of Reagan.
Much is to be said about the relationship of age and experience in the need for leadership, not just in our country, or in politics, but in the management and workforce of our American based companies, now, and more so, in the future.
In 1963, shortly before his assassination, John F. Kennedy was asked in a press conference about what his political and other goals were at the time. His response was, “I seem to be at an awkward age… too old for a new career, and too young to write my memoirs.” In 1963, this was a pretty true statement from this young, forty five year old President. It was also true for the workforce in America in general, at that time in history. It was difficult to be in your forty’s and looking for a job during the 1960’s with large bubbles of young baby boomers growing up in overflowing numbers. In those days, people in their forties struggled to find new employment when a job was lost. There were just too many young applicants available.
Today however, this is no longer the case. This is the time of the re-birth of the baby boomer generation. This generation of Americans is totally responsible for making its mark on our country and for the dominant success of large and small businesses in America, as they were in the past, and as they still are today. This rapidly retiring generation of American workers and managers are in much greater numbers than the younger generation who follows their great efforts.
The day is coming, sooner than later, when retired managers, engineers, and other retired workers, from many different industries will be recruited out of retirement to fill the void that will be left vacant due to the shortage of younger replacements. We will see the day when healthy and skilled retirees will be recruited back into the workplace with purpose, and to retire again, for a second time, in their efforts to keep the industry of this country great.
You are never too old to have career dreams and aspirations. Take accountability for the wealth of knowledge and experience you possess, and make yourself available to enjoy a career of a lifetime. Give yourself that opportunity to hear, once again, those wonderful words, that you are “the best candidate for the job!”