If you are over 60, society labels you as over the hill. The message is clear: it’s time to think of retirement and getting out of the way for the younger crowd. And many Boomers embrace the message. They find a place to retire, play shuffleboard, and prepare for the downhill ride.
Don’t buy culture’s lie which proclaims at over 60 you are all washed up.
Barbara Beskind works in the hip Silicon Valley at IDEO; the company which made Apple’s first mouse. She’s a designer who works with company engineers as they design products for older adults. Barbara is having the time of her life. And, did I mention, she is 90?
Barbara refused to accept the concept of coasting down Old Age Hill into the Land of Oblivion. She saw an episode of 60 Minutes where David Kelley, the founder of IDEO, talked about the importance of diversity on a design team. Instead of dismissing herself as being too old to work for the hip company, she wrote and asked about employment. Several days later the company contacted her. And now she is part of their design team.
Did you see what she did? She had an idea, took the initiative, and acted on it. And now at 90 she is still contributing to society and making a living. Barbara Beskind is my new hero.
When I turned 50 I did the math and realized with a jolt over 50% of my life had disappeared. I still recall the despair of concluding I now lived on the backside of life’s mountain. But I’ve discovered life over 50, and now over 60, is a bad thing only if you embrace the lie which tells you it’s time to coast.
As Boomers transition out of their old jobs and into a new life they need to look for opportunities to make a difference in their world.
What are you going to do with the rest of your life? The temptation is to sip lemonade by the pool and watch endless episodes of Seinfeld. But Barbara reminds us the ride down Old Age Hill need not lead to a meaningless life.
If you are at a change point in your life I encourage you to be like Barbara. Take the initiative and scan the horizon looking for opportunities.
- What skill set do you have which can be used to help an organization succeed?
- What young person around you needs a friend and mentor?
- How can you make your corner of the world a better place?
- Is there a group of people at church your age which you can rally so they become an asset to the pastor?
- Does the local hospital need your volunteer services?
- Is there a way you can help the less fortunate who stand on the street corner?
I believe life after 60 is filled with opportunities to invest your life in making the world a better place. It is criminal to spend the last third of life absorbed in frittering the days away.
Not me. I’m doing my best to leverage my experience and skills to contribute to society, not suck it dry.