“You’re male, pale and stale” were the words coldly delivered by a “career coach” to my friend, Howard, who is currently involved in a job search. This fellow late-stage baby-boomer friend of mine and I were chatting recently about the trials and tribulations surrounding the challenge of closing out our careers on a high financial note. We both once thought we would have trouble spending all of our money before we sailed off into the sunset, but now we joked how limping to the finish line is more likely the case!
Howard and I were once in a somewhat enviable situation. Some might even call it a privileged spot; good job, nice income and a nice 401K in the making. Life sometimes has other ideas, however, about the plan we once conceived. In my own case, I ran head on into the “Double D”. No, not what you’re thinking. The Double D in this case was downsizing and divorce. The downsizing cracked my nest egg and the divorce scrambled what was left of it. Oh well…
Finding the perfect job fit after many years in the work force can be a challenge. As we age, our waistlines become thick and our patience becomes thin. Accepting guidance (or taking orders) from someone we deem to be inexperienced, if not incompetent, can be a humbling if not a humiliating experience. At what point do we compromise our integrity for the sake of a paycheck? The idea of a hefty paycheck every two weeks with the accompanying perks is still very attractive mind you, however, those plum opportunities are not quite as abundant as we approach retirement as they once were and, once found, not as easy to hang onto.
As Howard and I discussed those heartless words delivered by his career coach, I started to ponder the challenges that graying America faces, as well as the challenges faced by other demographics in our society. I don’t think there is any particular group that doesn’t think there are at least a few things working against them as they pursue their own brass rings. In fact, it’s quite easy to use those factors as crutches and settle into a life of making excuses as to why we can’t simply do whatever we want. It got me to thinking that such excuse-making only serves to widen the chasm that currently exists between the “haves” and “have nots”. Maybe the “haves” have more because the “have nots” are too busy justifying why they don’t have as much. Something to think about.
I guess you could say we all have an autumn to our professional lives. We have a time when the economic engine sputters and maybe even backfires occasionally. With some fine-tuning, however, some engines run a lot longer and smoother than others. Maybe it’s the low-grade fuel we’re putting into our own engines that is causing the financial hiccups. Instead, fill it up with Ethyl (baby-boomer reference)!
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