Be careful what you wish for,
‘Cause you just might get it all.
You just might get it all,
And then some you don’t want.
Be careful what you wish for,
‘Cause you just might get it all.
You just might get it all, yeah.
~Chris Daughtry, “Home” from debut album “Daughtry”, 2007
Oh my Gwad! This is Terrible! Part of me is devastated. Part of me is jumping for joy, saying “Oh Good!” But how do I deal with suddenly being out of work after 31 years in one place?
Reality is forcing many of us to give up our cherished plans. Most of us over 40, 50 or 60+ have to keep on keeping on so we can afford our longer lives in the style we’ve grown accustomed to…or learn how to downshift.
It’s no surprise we never thought it would happen to us. But times are a changin’. We are all being forced to go back to the drawing board, asking all over again, who am I, where do I fit in and will anyone hire me?
It’s not easy in mid or later career, much less in full retirement to circle back. Even if you already “retired retirement”, you may be reconsidering staying on the sidelines.
No matter what your age or stage, career change will raise your anxiety in direct proportion to the stakes. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself dealing with a whole lot of upheaval on every front.
I just read these Benchmark Report and Analysis research report findings by Quantum Workplace about the impact of COVID-19 crisis on employee engagement – this one statement stood out:
“Our research indicates that when the COVID-19 virus initially hit the U.S., employee engagement dipped slightly to 70% Highly Engaged but had meaningful growth to 83% Highly Engaged after U.S. restrictions were put into place.”
But then, they report further:
There was an 11% year-over-year difference in high engagement between 2019 and 2020. From that peak in March of 2020, engagement levels slowly declined and returned to 2019 levels.
This all while the historic rise in unemployment levels during the pandemic, along with subsequent lockdown guidelines, the unemployment rate rose to over 16%–levels not seen since the Great Depression causing a dramatic change from the 3.6% unemployment rate in January 2020.
Clearly there is a correlation with the depression like increases in unemployment coinciding with the sudden rise in employee engagement only underscored by the Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting in April of 2020 that the number of people who quit their jobs voluntarily dropped to a 10-year low!
Could it be for those workers on the fence waiting to make a career change or jump companies got an unexpected wake-up call: If my friends and colleagues are losing jobs at record rates, maybe my situation isn’t so bad after all?!”
Now add this encroaching economic disaster and the turmoil over making new career moves on top of Covid-19’s continuing devastation – it’s a daunting journey for all of us who face sleepless nights wondering how to keep our doors open or lead our firm in these times.
Retiring Retirement, you’ve got to be kidding?
Our dreams of “doing it my way”, bypassing the system, or retiring early to pursue another career or start a new business with greater meaning and freedom is fading in the minds and hearts of way too many of us…at every age and stage. Increasingly, many of us feel imperiled or on the verge of implosion on every front.
Unlike our rebound after the stock-market bust of 2000 and the last 2 recessions in 2001 and the Great Recession kicked off in 2008, we were finally finding our economic footing and hope was rising. We were caught unprepared for these VUCA times we are in now. This time we may not recover fast enough to regain our remembered sustained bull market highs for quite some time. For some of us it may not come soon enough to re-secure our financial footing…yet again for a large number of us. A very small percentage of us are still “sure” we’ll be fine financially when it’s time to call it quits. No one can afford to go unconscious. Covid-19 demands we stay awake and alert.
Recent headlines support our worst fears: “Among those out of work, those over 45 are taking longer to find a new position than those under 45.” Or WSJ article entitled, “Women’s Careers Could Take Long-Term Hit From Coronavirus Pandemic”.
Women of all ages are being caught by surprise. Our working parents are struggling with the old bromides which kept women around the kitchen table instead of the board room table. So today we are witnessing women once again defaulting to Super woman role to the max or forced into the designated caretaker roles. Women are taking the brunt of the dings from the Coronavirus pandemic.
Immense innovation, and creativity, leveraged by collaboration, are required to get us way out of this darkside mess we all are finding ourselves in—here and around the globe we are in this together. We are being given a pause time to wonder—to go way outside of the box of our prior normal. It is in the immensity of the loss we share as we all are being challenged by disorienting rapid havoc of this novel virus. It is in the in-between times and spaces where we will wonder each and together will wonder a new way of well-being into existence.
Facts are facts. But incessant talk of the bad economy and/or breakdown of our American experiment as a democratic republic is is a self- fulfilling prophesy. Same is true for one person and for us collectively…on all sides of the divide. Like a viral worm these negative thought packets devour our sense of the future and screw up our perspective. Surrounded by all this negativity, we can’t help but be affected. It doesn’t stop with just us, it’s just as true for our customers and co-workers whose conditioned reflex will be to hunker down, cut back and not take risks.
Wailing “mea culpa” or responding like a deer in headlights is not acceptable. Please don’t get caught up in the gloom and doom and give up. We can transform gold from the dross of this newest wake up call.
Not to Worry… The Gray Ceiling is now in vogue!
One of the ways we can thrive in a down market is to learn how to be an Everyday FuturistSM.
What is an Everyday Futurist? It’s a term I coined that refers to a person who learns to read the future – not by reading tea leaves—but by studying trends, crafting possible scenarios and responses to them.
I believe learning to be an Everyday Futurist is the “X” factor that creates sustainable success. Without honing the futurists skill set, it is impossible to make sense of what is happening around us, much less come up with strategies that respond to the changing marketplace whether you are seeking to change companies or industries or switch careers. In fact, it is what will make the difference between going nowhere or capturing more market share…whether it’s in the resume email overload in H.R. inboxes or about developing yourself as a trustworthy advisor or visionary trailblazing leader.
We believe it’s essential to plot societal shifts in order to develop big brand ideas,” …Trendspotting allows us to tune into the zeitgeist, discover how seemingly disconnected details are connected and figure out how the mood of the moment is affecting people’s lives. Without this bigger picture, we run the risk of creating irrelevant and ineffective communications.
~Ann Mack, Director of trendspotting/ J. Walter Thompson
You can start by paying attention to key trends and preparing ourselves for what’s ahead.
The Hottest Topic Worrying Leaders today:
Caveat: Covid-19 is most current, but it is temporary in the scheme of things. What’s not going away any time soon is the
Graying of Business
Top talent shortage. Brain drain. Leadership needed. Succession planning non-existent or insufficient.
Approximately a decade ago, 43% of current workers were projected to become eligible for retirement by 2020. That’s all changed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Now with tens of millions of workers unemployed in a poof of time at no fault of their own. If that’s not enough, there’s a perfect storm forming as these same Americans who now aren’t paying into the government account that pays out the social security benefits are prematurely drawing down their benefits as soon as they hit the eligibility date.
Right about now I’m guessing that if you are around retirement age, you are evaluating the upside and downside of staying or going, or perhaps building out or getting out. The allure of the safety net of
U.S. Social Security benefits and Medicare coverage may tip the scales for many of us who are facing this choice point of “Do I stay? Or, do I go?”
Worker skill shortage.
It’s only getting worse. Experienced Boomers please apply.
The demographics are now shifting in our favor if you are 40+. Since the turn of the millennium there have been increasing calls to prepare for the coming workforce shortage. One of the best treatments on this topic, Workforce 2000 and its sequel, Workforce2020, was produced by the well-regarded Hudson Institute, a Washington D.C. based policy research center and think-tank.
In the good times, very few of us paid attention. Others like myself did what we could to prepare for the eventual roiling impact on our workforce and economy as the earliest Boomers confronted midlife malaise or sought more meaning in their life and work as they headed towards 60. And then, it all came tumbling down.
A truth I learned a long time ago is that our “emergence comes out of emergency”. That’s true of everyone and everything. Think about it, when have you grown the most? When has your career or business taken its greatest leaps forward?
There’s a bit of lag time operative here.
In the 1970’s, the glass ceiling defined my younger tour de force in the hallowed halls of corporate America…Decades later it became the dreaded “grey ceiling”. If you were over 40 you were over the hill. Your career was up for grabs – it was far cheaper to hire younger employees than pay for “knowledge workers”. What has long infuriated and astonished me is that this has been the prevailing belief espoused from folks at the helm who are no longer 40. Until now.
The arrival of Covid-19 has no doubt exacerbated and brought ageism to the fore. At first it was the “oldies” who were at fault, positioned as the causal factor in the pandemic spreading. Yes, we oldies but goodies are more prone but the it was density and the lack of pandemic level preparation until these insidious Trickster viruses shredded our immunological divides by showing up in and sadly ravaging the bodies of younger and younger adults…now heart-rendering, even our young ones.
And still, ageism is on the rise. I hear stories daily on how it is emerging from the shadows out into the open. Now we can start to get really serious shift the narratives to a new story of our AGE…together. When we can see whatever the it is, we can speak to it, then it will begin to shift on its own accord.
We are forced to sit with the polarities of two recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings for and against the rising ageism across the country.
The not so good news: Women once again are first in line to feel the brunt of Covid-19 pandemic. Some because they are torn between career and and family caretaking and others because women were last in, so first out.
The good news: In an 8-1 ruling, the Supreme Court on Monday said federal employees have a lower burden to prove differential treatment under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) compared to their counterparts in the private sector and state and local governments.
All this while approximately 90% of all our leaders are 40 plus.
There is a shift occurring: More and more of us are staying in the workforce either because we love to work or more recently, because we need to or are afraid not to have a job. But once we are on the other side of this life taking, life changing pandemic and its related severe economic downturn, more of us over age 40 will find ourselves valued once more.
Pre Covid-19 pandemic, Ernst & Young survey discovered that nearly 40% of employers noted that their number one concern for the next decade will be a shortage of workers as a result of retirement and the shift in workforce demographics. But that was then. Currently the pandemic is too fluid to determine its full impact on the true availability of workers. Surely by the time this virus is tamed, America will have lost many more lives, which has to have an impact on talent shortage.
I can still recall actor Dennis Hopper in Ameriprise’s T. V. ad campaign espousing the new Boomer mantra that the new 60 is the old 30! In many ways he’s right. Although my body aches when I wake up in the morning, I have more zest for life and I’m more in the swing of what’s happening than folks my age just a generation ago. What once was viewed as the peak of a mid-career at 40 is now age 60!
We oldies invented “Cool” and “Hip”, I doubt we’ll let them go.
Why waste a perfectly useful Recession?
The time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson
Long ago alchemists and modern-day physicists alike appear to support the teachings of The Power of Positive Thought or Think and Grow Rich teachings. Those of us who convened for the Harmonic Convergence back in 2001, learned to Ohm and have seen the benefits of visioning, know that we can affect our reality by adjusting our inner thoughts and how we envison our world.
Everything is energy at its most fundamental level. Matter is energy moving at slower speeds. Our reality is malleable and made up of quantum wave-like particles of energy that respond to our very thoughts. So whether you are a staunch follower of Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich, a fan of Bellaruth Naparstek’s pre-surgery visualizations or my own guided imagery recordings for healing or successful transformation, or you are someone just beginning to explore the world of the unconscious and modern day alchemy, these current in-between times can provide you with a laboratory to experiment with truly creating your future, image by image.
I’ve always believed that we have this power within to create our outer reality. Of course, in hard times all of us tend to go back to our reptilian brain modes of behavior and we forget the power we have within to alter our reality…our future.
Over the years, I’ve worked with many executives and professionals to envision to the point that their imagined reality becomes the real deal. This has worked for preparing for major presentations, auditioning for a major part as well as securing a desired position and to signing contracts or healing from within.
No matter how long I do this work or with whom, it always comes down the same thing: First, and foremost, you’ve got to know what you want. Then the fun begins.
For starters here’s what you can do:
*SEE yourself in a future you want for yourself. Don’t hold back. Detail it all. The Universe can’t provide what you want if it hasn’t a clue from you!:)
*It’s the perfect time for retraining and reskilling, and for expanding your horizons. Go for it! Don’t wait another moment.
*If you are feeling stuck and limited at any age…don’t buy into this notion. THINK: Bypass the system!
*If you are over age 40, KNOW that the tide is turning, older adults will be in demand again. It’s especially good times for those who have the resilience and self-reliance, rooted in developmental maturity to lead us into a future we can be proud to live and leave behind. The new times will be all about well-being with a focus on whole people/whole organizations.
Everything changes. How we work change or flow with it will make the difference between a soft landing or a slide on the slippery slopes of reinvention in the midst of a global restructuring with no end in sight for future impending trickster events.