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It's a backstage pass to info on jobs and life at 50+. Gen Plus, headed by Janet Wendy Spiegel, is dedicated to baby boomers and the plus generation of age 50 and older. Read up and speak out on issues affecting your future: jobs, income, life and respect.

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Northridge, California, United States
Successful businesswoman, consultant, entrepreneur. I operate two businesses -- social media consulting, AND premium pet care services in the West San Fernando Valley. Love what I do, love life.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Battle Within

In my twenties, I was fearless. There was no risk too great to take. I travelled to different countries, visited every nook and cranny in Canada and the US that I could afford to travel to. Took jobs for $150/week so that I could break into a new industry, stayed up all night, had lots of different boyfriends -- opened my arms wide to all new experiences. With no fear. Perhaps, in retrospect, there was a certain naivete that protected me, but nonetheless, I experienced a wide rainbow. As a result, my own career and life path were pretty rich.

I'll bet many of you can relate to that freedom to change, to risk, to fail. And we all did it without blinking.

Isnt' it so odd, that with so much experience under our belts, as we get to our late 40's, early 50's, and even well into our 60's and 70's, for some reason, the older we get, the more paralyzed we become. I know, for myself, life's responsibilities (child, home, dog) take front and center and as a sole breadwinner, I have to measure in the risk. But why, when in our twenties, we are so able to change, do we start to hesitate, falter and fear change as we age? We seek job security in a world where job security is no longer viable. We avoid change to stay secure in our own nests. Why? Is there some biological factor at play? Some holdover from the early days of mankind, when as a race, our lifespan only stretched into our late 40's or early 50's? Is there a pre-wired instinct to get ready to die?

Hold on. There it is again. That fear factor. We have it in job search -- as mature workers we are terrified that we won't find meaningful employment. There are services in cyberspace dedicated to helping us find work, but even that concept brings us more fear ("I need a career management service to break down a door?")

In this millenium, we can anticipate healthy, vibrant lives well into our 80's and even 90's. So at 40 and 50, we really are only at mid-life. That's a whole lot of living yet. So where does the fear come from? What a relief it would be -- to shed the nest, strike out for unknown territories and fearlessly reconquer the world. My recognition of my burning need for change started with my quest for a new car and realizing that the car of my dream did not fit into my current life needs. Did I still get a great car? Yes. Was it the car I would have purchased if I was free as a bird? Heck...no. But it underlined some major changes in my life that limited my personal freedoms. Do those constraints extend to all apsects of a mid-life?

You may have stayed in a job for a really long time and then left it. Do you remember the feeling of freedom when you made that choice? Even people who are downsized ultimately feel a great sense of relief and freedom to embrace personal change, even with an uncertain financial security.

What is the true emotion behind the "mid-life crisis"? An internal call of the wild? Maybe the mid-life crisis is mis-named. Maybe it is really just listening to ourselves for a minute or two and following our heart's desire.


VintageP said...

I am past age 50 now and have noticed in my own life a greater sense of risk avoidance. Odd to think about it as it doesn't make much sense in terms of biological imperatives. By your 50s you've reproduced yourself if that was your intent. Seems you would have more to lose by avoiding risk prior to that and less to lose taking risks after that.

Wendy, founder, Gen Plus said...

That's what I'm thinking, too! So what is this all about? I've just taken a huge personal risk, which was very scary prior to taking the leap and absolutely NOT scary now the leap has happened. So really, it was the point of decision that was the cause of the fear. I'm going to have to ruminate on this one.

Dina Eisenberg said...

Only recently have I come to completely understand the common phrase: Youth is wasted on the young!

I was fearless at 22 and feel nearly so at 46. In between, discovered the meaning of expectations and needs. We, boomers, need to remember who we are and take full advantage of our power.

We're the folks who changed the American compact about work- we demanded more and got it.

We're the folks who reshaped the face of beauty. 50 is the new 40, where have you heard that before?

We're the folks who are poised to truly show what can happen when midlife, the most robust, joyous part, starts at 50.

Am I ready to take a risk. Damned right. Does it matter if I fail? Nope, I know what to do now (and that's what makes all the difference).


Cathy Warren said...

Here's to taking risks! Get up and go. Remain physically and mentally active. Stay productive, contribute your experience and knowledge. Change your mind-set regarding aging. Reinvent yourself. Continue to be active and passionate about life.

I have been visiting this blog and decided that I can continue to learn a lot and hopefully can contribute a lot to the dialog. But first, I want to be up front about my intentions. I am associated as a technical liaison with a new web site called the www.Over60Exchange.com. This web site was originally created to cater to the needs of “seniors over the age of 60,” and is now being expanded to include “Boomers, Seniors, and those who follow.”

We recognize that many individuals who reach the age of 60 are not physically, mentally, or financially prepared to enjoy the so-called “Golden Years.” In order to meet the challenges we face in these days of great uncertainty, many Boomers and Seniors need to re-examine how they approach and solve problems. Over60Exchange is developing guidelines to help Boomers and Seniors evaluate and evolve their current “mind-sets.” Those who are willing to engage in critical assessments of current mind-sets can observe and/or participate in online forums focused on “personal reinvention.”

I invite you to check us out at www.Over60Exchange.com. And remember, we are evolving this web site. You can watch the progress and offer suggestions. Then, when we are ready, you can participate in “Personal Reinvention.”

I look forward to your comments and suggestions.

Cathy Warren