Turning 50 used to mean that it was time to begin thinking about retiring. That is not the case anymore. Now 50 is just middle-aged, with another quarter-century of busy productive life ahead.
To paraphrase Kermit the frog – “It’s not easy being wise”. I thought turning 50 would mean that things slowed down, calmed down and got easier. Instead, the pace of life seems to be quickening.
Turning 50 is a good time to start thinking about what you’ve learned so far, and reflecting on maybe becoming a “modern elder” and sharing some stories and wisdom with people who are finding their own paths a bit too challenging today.
Being a “modern elder” means balancing sharing wisdom with embracing new ideas and ways of thinking. Part of this is figuring out how to stay relevant and keep skills up to date while remembering humility.
Traditionally, elders of the community are repositories of cultural and philosophical knowledge and assist the understanding of such information, including basic beliefs and teachings. Elders should be good listeners.
It’s not about lecturing and pontificating to younger people about how they’re doing everything wrong, or glorifying “good old days”, or being a grumpy old curmudgeon.
But it also doesn’t mean that the old ways need to be lost forever. Maybe there’s a way of integrating the old and the new, to create a synthesis of something different – and better.
It can be tough for oldsters to stay motivated in the work environment when each new wave of what’s popular seems overwhelming and just plain weird. Then there is the issue of how companies seem to value the younger generation over maturity, and how in-tune the youngsters seem to be with new technology, some if which is just scary and disconcerting.
So what are 50-year-olds doing? Some go back to school. They either go back for jobs where there are shortages like teaching in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields or in nursing, others take classes that align with their field but bring them up to speed with what young people are currently learning to make themselves relevant. People volunteer for community organisations and attend specialised boot camps or fellowships. Teaming up with young partners is a good avenue to pursue.
Mentoring a younger person is a sort of hybrid of a cultural exchange program with apprenticeship, where say a Boomer and a Millennial learn from each other. For the older person, collaborating with younger people is a great way to finding your way back to being “with it”, and learning new ways and technologies. Mobile apps and social media aren’t so scary once you’ve used them for a few days.
Family group chats across platforms like Facebook and Messenger can help you see how the youngsters (and their furious thumb-typing) communicate. Get your younger relatives to show you their favourite accounts. You don’t necessarily need to participate online, but if you can become familiar with it, this will help you with understanding young people because you will come to know their expressions and humour and the way they communicate in a less formal setting.
The attitudes of your younger colleagues are just as important as yours as you work to either redefine your current role or seek a new role in the rapidly changing work environment. Connecting with them either through intergenerational networking or via other avenues is important.
It is worth keeping in mind that, just as you want to get to know younger folks, they are also looking for mentors, so two-way beneficial relationships can form.
Times are “weird & scary” for the young folks too. They have high education debts, can’t easily get into the property market, are under-employed (not by choice), and don’t expect they will be in the same job for more than 3-5 years at a time. They are stressed and time-poor, and many would welcome a (non-related) Elder to offer a bit of gentle guidance and a different perspective.
Ageism can appear to be rampant in the workforce. The media-saturation and idolisation of youth can be discouraging. While there are many offerings to assist in making late-career transitions, moving into an “encore career” will require courage, creativity and persistence.
So, hitting 50 is not the trigger for retirement and decrepitude it once may have been. But it is definitely time to be thinking about the big issues such as retiring, having a retirement plan, and a fully integrated and up to date estate plan.
The key to feeling comfortable going forward – including making the transition to a “modern elder” – is to plan well. Meeting with an estate planning lawyer to do your retirement planning and establishing your estate plan can help you have peace of mind concerning the appropriate amount of funds for retirement. Most people don’t realise just how much they need to have saved nor have they properly planned around their superannuation and social security.
It might be daunting to be 50 and trying to achieve “modern elder” status, but with the appropriate amount of planning and determination, you can stay relevant in the work place and have a dependable plan to fall back on.
To learn more about this and other estate planning topics, visit our website to schedule your consultation today!
For more information on creating a modern integrated estate plan or other estate planning topics, explore our articles and visit our website today to schedule your consultation!
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