There is no law to suggest that because you are of a certain age you have to retire. There is also no law that suggests once you’ve retired you can’t go back to work either.
There is a myth we all subscribe to that says career or professional reinvention is for the young only. However, a successful reinvention is down to the individual and their attitude. There is no one out there who will give us what we seek; we have to create them ourselves.
Life sometimes throws a pileup of challenges in our way such as health problems, job losses, loss of a loved one and, of course, retirement. These experiences may very well facilitate opportunities for reinvention and change. They do also take away aspects of our identity, which means we can never be the same people again.
However, we have to choose and own these changes whether they were voluntary or imposed. When we lose something or someone that has been a substantial part of our lives, it is difficult to imagine a new future without them. Everything we know is related to our past with the future scary and unknown.
So where do we start? It doesn’t have to be a burning ambition. You may very well not have a clue what you want to do and who you want to be. Sometimes the best way is to experiment with a number of things before you settle on a path that feels right. Start small and let it build. On the other hand, an unexpected opportunity might pass by and if it feels right, grab it. It doesn’t have to be forever and may eventually lead to what you want to do or be who you want to be. Think of it as an adventure of discovery.
What is unavoidable is that you have to take some action, no matter how small. That’s how snowballs are formed. It starts with one snowflake blown along by the wind, gathering momentum by collecting others along the way to eventually result in an unstoppable, enormous snowball.
Face your fears and insecurities. The self-talk will try and persuade you that, ‘you are too old to learn new tricks’, ‘you can’t dance’, ‘your bad back will only get worse’, ‘you will look stupid’, ‘who do you think you are’. Fill in the blanks….. Face them, feel the fear and try it anyway by starting small, building confidence and momentum. If you’re worried that you are too old, remind yourself that the average life span is 80, so there is plenty of time.
Go back to the beginning and be a novice once again, if that’s what it takes. You may be surprised at how much fun it is to once again learn or discover something new. A friend of mine who has just turned 80 has taken up learning to play the flute, something she always wanted to do when she was young and never had the opportunity to do so. Her husband sang in the choir until he was 93.
Take the time to revisit your past. You may find that your reinvention is strongly linked to who you were many eons ago. Often a reinvention is linked to a love or interest for pursuits when you were small or an adolescent, but shelved for ‘a proper job’. I’ve mentioned my own experience with this in a past blog, rediscovering my love of painting and drawing. Your forgotten interests may lead to a new career or simply a new interest in life that puts you on the path of a whole new group of people and experiences.
Many of us dream of a future that is different from our present. My brother too had dreams and experiences he was going to pursue when he retired. He never got there as aggressive terminal cancer had other ideas long before he retired. Too often, we give up on our dreams just when we need to push harder, or persist with circumstances, careers or relationships when we actually should quit. The result is we end up with an unfulfilled future we didn’t really want.
Whatever reinvention looks like to you, a new career, hobby or a new life elsewhere, as the title of my blog suggests; be a hag with attitude and pursue the whispers of your inner voice!