Working & Age

I’m 40; middle-aged, as my son likes to remind me. My career path has been varied; it’s taken enough forks in the road to keep the cutlery industry going for a generation. No career ever goes smoothly; I’ve lost jobs, resigned from jobs, and been reorganised into new ones. Getting some jobs has relied on the experience I had at another, and I’ve commuted by bus, train, and on foot.

All pretty standard stuff; everyone will get a sense of the familiar about all of that. I’m by no means unusual. I’ve hated going to work on occasions, and loved it on others; in one job, I recall a horrible sinking feeling every morning as I work up to the realisation that I had to go back to that place. In other jobs, I’ve had a spring in my step as I practically jumped out of bed – I couldn’t wait to go to work.

Moving from job to job has been an interesting experience. I’ve not always got the job I’ve applied for – sometimes, I haven’t even got an interview – but on other occasions, I’ve been the first choice. The buzz you get from that phone call is brilliant, and it certainly never gets old. It makes me very happy when I get a chance to stretch my wings in a new direction, and the pathcover cover that is my CV bears out the twists and turns of my career.

I will retire – under current guidelines – when I’m 67; 27 years from now. I’m roughly half-way through my working life, and I am thankful that I have a type of career. It’s not a traditional one in the sense of following a vocation, but it’s fun learning new things.

But hitting my 40s has raised an interesting question in my mind; where will the next 20 years take me as I age and started to be seen as closer to retirement than the start of my career? That’s not going to happen overnight, of course, but I am in a different position to when I was 16 or 20 or 30 – I’m more experienced, which would usually confer a higher salary of sorts, and I’m currently working part-time because of my son. In years to come, I’d be looking for a full-time job again, but that’s for the future; right now, this works for me. But how easy would that process be when I’m 45 or 50 compared to now or when I was starting out?

Having experience is appealing to employers, so that could be a tick in the positive box, but I know I will encounter those considerations about my age at some point. Even I will make those considerations; does the age range in the office work for me? If I was 40 in an office entirely of 20-somethings, would we get along? Would the team gel with such different perspectives? I would become the oldest in the office; something I’ve never encountered before, but it’s going to happen sooner or later.

Some employers do have particular views on age; it is illegal to discriminate on the basis of age, but that doesn’t mean it won’t flag up as a concern; will there be any particular health concerns with an older employer? How will they return the investment in their training? What experience do they bring?

I am genuinely un-fazed by my new decade; being 40 is no different than being 39, and that was an entire decade and just a few days ago. It will bring new challenges and opportunties, and I will need to think positively about my future as I enter a new phase in my life. How will work fit into that? Who knows; I certainly don’t, but I learn a lot from work, and as I hit middle-age, I want to make sure I am keeping myself active, relevant, and interested in the world around me.

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