Work It

Some thoughts after reading an article this past month about working until we reach an older age.

As we work through our forties, fifties, and into our sixties, there are some definite advantages that continuing to work affords us.

One, we have established seniority. We have spent decades in the field of our choice, building up cred, establishing relationships, building bridges and alliances with others, and learning how to be successful. Seniority and the goodwill that it brings take time to establish, and should not be given up lightly. Once relinquished, they may not be so easily regained.

Experience is gold. Learning how to do something, the mechanics and the algorithmic nature of the procedure, is important. Even more important is learning the nuances, the finesse moves that separate a technician from an artist or craftsman.

Responsibility is another time honored trait that defines the older, more experience worker. When young, we tend to try to figure out how to save ourselves steps, time and work. When older, we recognize the importance of a job well done, no matter how long it takes or how difficult it is. We stick to it until it is done.

We develop varying degrees of indispensability as we age on the job. We become the go to person, the one who knows, the one that cannot be done without. We have the institutional memories, the comparisons to days gone by and the ability to use the past to fashion a stronger future.

We learn how to multitask and delegate as we age into a job. Instead of trying to do everything ourselves, we learn that enlisting the help of others and breaking a task into multiple pieces often helps things go more smoothy.

As we age and continue to work, we may keep the idea in our head that we want to be “in the room where it happens” for as long as possible. We are involved in the big decisions, the generation of important ideas, and we know that we help to run the shop and the show. It is difficult to decide when it is time to give that up.

If we transition to part time or less, what happens?

We may indeed feel less stress. We have more time. We can do more of what we want to do. Our job satisfaction may actually go up when we have less on our plates. We have the ability to try new things, to explore, to experiment.

But…

Management may look on this new found freedom as decreased commitment to the organization or the job. Availability may be compromised, motivation may be called into question and we may find ourselves cut out of the herd when the big decisions are made.

We may struggle to maintain our relevency.

Things to ponder as I turn sixty two.

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