“When we are young, we learn. When we are old, we understand.”
--Marie Von Ebner-Eschenbach
Re-imagine the Spring of Youth giving way to the Summer of Adulthood and an inevitable decline in Autumn and Winter. What if, the longer life spans we enjoy in the 21st century are a gift of extra time to accomplish goals resting silently inside our hearts? No one knew that you always wanted to learn to play the keyboard or learn Spanish or visit Yosemite. Now that studies are predicting lifespans of ninety years as nearly average; we are challenged to find excuses to not live our dreams.
In her book, In Our Prime: The Invention of Middle Age, Pat Cohen offers a reason to believe middle age careers can be extended. “Generation X has nearly 30 million fewer members than the 78 million strong baby boom generation. Even though many from this group will work past 65, there will still be fewer employees overall,” according to Cohen’s research. It sounds like great news, but what is the best course of action to take while waiting for the business world to beat a path to the door of the 50, 60 and 70+ worker? Remember this:
· Reid Hoffman founded LinkedIn at age 35. (Old by Silicon Valley standards)
· Col. Harland Sanders founded Kentucky Fried Chicken at age 65
· Grandma Moses began painting at age 78 (she painted 25 paintings after turning 100 years old)
· Diana Nyad swam from 110 miles Cuba to Miami in 53 hours at age 64 on her fifth attempt
· Henry Kaiser established Kaiser Permanente w/ a business partner at age 63
Most of these people lived in America at a time when the average life expectancy was closer to 70. Could the fact that I listed above were engaged in work of their calling give them additional years to make the impact they desired? What is your calling? What is the project you are so passionate about, that you lose track of time?
There is a lot of information online about jobs, careers and callings. Time slows down so a person may discover which phase they are experiencing: a job, a career or a calling. There is no right or wrong answer and each serves a purpose. It is going to vary for each of individual. As a mid-career professional, just know your best ideas may still be inside of you and like Reid, Col. Sanders, Grandma Moses, Diana and Henry--your greatest accomplishments in life may be realized in your autumn years.