Changing the view of aging

I travel around the world speaking and teaching and it is so interesting to observe how aging and work is viewed. In many countries just the fact that a person has lived to age sixty is considered quite an accomplishment! And to be working as well at this age, not a good idea as some might speculate. After all work is for younger people; older people should be retired, stay home and rest.

You are as old as you feel

I have been researching the intersection of aging and work for over twenty years now and I have discovered quite the opposite. I have observed that for many people continuing to work at what one enjoys can be the difference between illness and health, depression and happiness, and anxiety and peace. Age is relative. One person might feel very old at age fifty and another person might feel the energy of a forty year old working in a blissful vocation at age eighty.

It’s a matter of perspective

I have observed in my research that this is the case for many adults over age forty. The path to an authentic life occurs when a person works at something which is joyful, meaningful, and fulfilling. In my book, “Joyful work in midlife; The five stages”, I interviewed midlife adults who made the transition from just a job to the vocation and work which they were passionate about. I learned that these people experienced a new sense of energy and spirit about their life.

Passion and Work

At any age but especially at age sixty or older this is a requirement for working. In the third stage and later the fourth stage of life, making a contribution in the areas which one is deeply interested in will provide the internal motivation and drive to last a lifetime. It is never too late or too early to start to design a life centered around passionate work.

The five most important questions to ask

At any age but especially after forty and when you are over sixty, it is critical to ask oneself these five most important questions that follow. These questions provide the path to an authentic life in the second half of life.

Number 1. Does my work make sense to me?
Number 2. Is my work fulfilling?
Number 3. Does my work align my abilities (and what I am motivated at this point of life to do) with my deepest interests?
Number 4. Can I see and feel that my work makes a difference in others?
Number 5. Can I continue to do this work for the rest of my life?

When age makes a difference

Age only makes a difference when your life is not filled with purpose and meaning. Without this you will feel and act old as well as speed up your aging process. The work you do after sixty will make the difference between a blissful life and one of just reflection and longing nostalgia for the past. After forty is the best time to develop one’s third and fourth stages of life to align with the work which is just perfect for you. It’s never too early or too late to start. Most important is that you start with a dream and you decide to take action to reach it! Because after sixty you can start to make the greatest contributions in your life which will affect not only you but everyone else who is the receiver of your work

I’ll be cheering you on as you go . . .

Craig Nathanson


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