ageism, agism, age is just a number, mature age, older worker, mature-age worker, age discrimination

Is age really just a number?

When it comes to the ‘Greypreneur’, I truly believe that age is just a number. If you feel that ‘too old’ is to be over 50, or over 60 or over 70, think again. We are all ageing, but growing OLD is our choice.

How do you view yourself? If you are thinking of retirement, I’d challenge you by asking what you consider to be ‘retirement’.  What will you do once you reach your desired ‘retirement age’ or will you simply continue doing what you’ve always been doing?

Career Transition and Change

As an outplacement consultant who specialises in career transition coaching, I meet professionals of different ages who have experienced a redundancy. Everyone experiences similar emotions when going through a redundancy and how each individual handles their situation depends on how they view themselves.

Let me tell you the story of one of my clients and you decide for yourself if anyone is ever ‘too old’ to fulfil their dreams, goals or aspirations.

Rise of the Greypreneur

I greeted a new client in my reception area one afternoon. There he was, dressed in a Fedora hat, white tee shirt and a pair of tight, black jeans. I extended my hand to greet him; he stood up and towered over me while telling me his name was Graeme.

Tall,’ I thought. ‘Firm handshake,’ I noticed when we shook hands.

I guided him to my office for our consultation. He followed closely, with long, confident strides, making interesting small talk.

Energetic,’ I thought.

I didn’t think about his age until we sat opposite each other in my consulting room and he removed his trendy hat. I noticed his well tanned; weather beaten face etched with interesting lines that suggested an outdoors life well lived. I guessed his age to be about 58.

I needed some details from Graeme for my New Client Form and he said, “I should let you know I’m 72.” I nearly fell out of my chair! How could this fit, vibrant and confident man be 72? He didn’t fit my preconceived ideas about 70 year olds.

Herein lies the problem. Too many of us have preconceived ideas about age.

Age Discrimination in the Workplace

The Australian Human Rights Commission recently released their Willing To Work Inquiry into Age Discrimination in the Workplace.

According to Australia’s Age and Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Susan Ryan, “The right to work is a fundamental human right, but one that far too many older people and people with disability in Australia do not enjoy.”

This inquiry found that at the beginning of 2016 there were 80,000 unemployed Australians over the age of 55. That’s 12% more than 2015. This number is believed to be partially due to age discrimination in the workplace.

The Australian Government is taking steps to encourage older workers AND employers to embrace age and maturity as a positive and provide the opportunity for those who are in their 60’s and even 70’s should they choose to work, to have an equal chance of securing a role for which they are well qualified. However it’ll be a long process.

How to reinvent your career

What are we to do if we are part of the ageing workforce?

With over 15 years as a career coach and having coached numerous clients through what for some, regardless of age, has been a very challenging process to secure another job, I believe that rather than waiting for an employer to ‘pick you’, you should ‘pick yourself’!

Yes, pick yourself to contribute to the community – set up a new business, buy an existing business, buy a franchise or leverage your years of experience, knowledge, technical expertise and well cultivated network to create your own venture! Here’s how you can do it

It won’t be easy and it won’t be for everyone but it is an option. It’s not the easy way; it’s an exciting, challenging way and a darn sight better than sitting at home blaming ageism in the workplace for your sorrows.

Never too old

You’re probably wondering what happened to Graeme. After I recovered my composure when he told me he was 72, I mistakenly mentioned the words ‘retirement options‘. He put his hand on the table, looked me straight in the eyes and said, ‘Jane, my dear, do I look like the retiring kind?’

With his energy and attitude he most certainly didn’t. Our coaching sessions subsequently focused on leveraging his extensive expertise in engineering and major projects into a successful consultancy and he hasn’t looked back!

If you’re at a career crossroads and wondering to do next, consider entrepreneurship – it’s the one place where age knows no barriers!

For help in the next step in your career or vocation, my 12-week CAREER SUCCESS PROGRAM will help you take control of your life and career.


I write for Smallville and my article was originally published here

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *