Even though discrimination is a problem for older workers, that hasn’t stopped baby boomers from defying the odds and having killer late-life careers. There are more entrepreneurs and full-time employees aged 55 and older than ever before. They make up a third of the nation’s labor force and start just as many new businesses as millennials do.
But you’d never know any of that from all the click-bait headlines and fear-mongering content full of one sensational, nonsensical myth after another. Don’t even get me started on politics.
Sometimes I think we’d all be better off just tuning out the news. When I was building my career, I never paid any attention to news, politics, or any kind of non-fiction books or media, for that matter. There was nobody to tell me what I could or couldn’t do or how I should or shouldn’t go about doing it. I guess that paid off.
I bet I know what some of you are thinking: Easy for a white male with privilege to say. Bull. I started with nothing. Nada. Zilch. Granted, I had two working-class parents who loved me, but they sure had a funny way of showing it. And there certainly wasn’t much money or privilege floating around our tiny rent-controlled apartment.
As some of you already know, I’m a product of the streets of New York, c. 60s and 70s, sex and drugs and rock & roll and all that. I made my own way in the world, paid my own way through college, and took more than a few wrong turns along the way. There were plenty of dark times when I wanted to give up and call it quits. I wanted to, but I never did. That’s a slippery slope.
Look, I’m not saying that ageism is fair or that it isn’t tough getting a good job when you’re perceived as being over the hill. Trust me, I know that. Both my wife and I are still working our tails off in late-life careers. What I am saying is that feeling and acting like a victim only ensures that you are one and always remain one.
I don’t care if you’re silver-haired, green-skinned, or gender agnostic. We all have our challenges, albeit some more than others. But if you want to make it in the cold competitive world out there, you don’t have the luxury of wallowing in self-pity, whining about your bum luck, or playing the blame game. You just don’t.
Stand tall. Work hard. Make smart choices. And for God’s sake, turn off the freakin’ news feed before it turns your brain to mush. Seriously.
Image credit CBS