Some say that after 55 (I’m 66!!) you are “set out to pasture” to graze for the rest of your life. I take issue with that. The question really is what’s in that pasture?

I see a pasture with 3 distinct sections. Section one has an abundance of grass. The “Senior Citizens” (SC) there are grazing to their hearts content, loving it. They are making money, they are relaxing doing what they really want to do and don’t care what their age is.

The second section of the pasture is sparse. There is some grass and the SC who have “settled” there are complaining that there is some grass there, but they want more. They are working on a “Plan B” because during their prime (before they were set out to pasture) they were making a salary and loving it. Now they have to work, and work harder so that they can eventually meander over to “Section one” where there’s an abundance of grass.

The third section is sandy. It has no grass. There are a few SC over there, but they are constantly complaining that there is absolutely nothing out there (do I hear apathy?). They have worked hard and now they are standing there trying to find SOME grass to graze on, but they are just not finding it. They are not prepared for this eventuality. They have been given advice by dozens of people and have opted to take the wrong advice as those people didn’t have a clue as to what they were talking about but felt comfortable just “giving advice”. These are people who are “doubting Toms”.

Now, let’s revisit that second area. What led them to the path where there is some grass? Preparation? Great advice from those “in the know”? Networking with the right people? A high quality resume and LinkedIn profile? The answer of course is yes to all the above. Will they (or can they) meander quickly to the dense grassy area and make something of their life? The answer is a definite YES.

Preparation is the key word. There is no genetic or DNA issue here. There is no magic formula. There is no large bank account. There is no large “silver spoon”. It takes hard work to get to that middle patch. Yes, we all want to be in the far left grassy patch (Section one). We can do it….won’t happen overnight….it may never happen, but we can’t say we didn’t try. We all went to bed those nights saying, “we did the best we could all day and into the night. We are being paid what we are worth. We are not being paid what others feel we are worth. If we took a tablet and put two columns, we’d see something like the following:

Plan A (a paid position) Versus Plan B – The alternative

Plan A – The job we love to hate or hate to love

Plan B – I’ll do my own thing and make the best of it

A paycheck each week

A commission check saying this is what you accomplished

The boss tells me what hours I must work

I work the hours I must work to make some money

You are assigned to work on a team full of like skills and you must work as a team or be told you are changing teams

You are working independently or your team mates (aka downline) are doing their best under your guidance

You must be available evenings or weekends when assigned by your boss

You work whatever hours it takes to get the job done

This chart depicts the difference between working for someone and working for yourself. As the “new crop of senior citizens, we all want to have a weekly pay check. We all want to have our bills paid on time. We want all stores to have “senior discounts”. This is a new age for us. We are used to working in our comfort zones, that “box “ called 1980 when we saw life a lot easier.

Newsflash, this is the 21st century and we are (by our own admission) BabyBoomers or “Boomers” for short. We were born post WWII. We didn’t have a choice!!! Now we have children and grandchildren. We are in the same or similar boat that our grandparents and parents may have been in during the 60’s and 70’s. Only the economy IS NOT the same. It is terribly different.

re your skills where they should be? Should you go to school to update those skills? There is a mountain of questions to be asked and, yes, answered. Should you seek help? A resounding YES is in order here. What kind of help should you seek? Help comes from those who either “have been there” or from those who ARE there and are struggling just like you. The word NETWORKING comes to mind. These could be your peers and (yes) even your competition.

The biggest selling point YOU have is YOU. That’s right. Walk up to someone and smile. Stand on a street corner and look up. How many will stop and look up right beside you? Your “soft” skills are just as important as your “hard “skills. Soft skills are that grin or smile you always display. That sense of humor. Having “people skills” is over used.

The next selling point is your resume. Does it tell the whole story? Although I am an expert resume writer, I will not sit here and tell you to meet with me. This is not my time to self-promote. I will say this though, and that is that your resume is not an android. YOU are not an android! There are rules and rules governing how a resume should be written. I am not going to expound on ANY of them at this point. I will say, however, that if you talk to 12 different people, you are going to get 12 DIFFERENT ANSWERS. Some may be the same, some will be different. Who makes the decision ultimately? You do!!!

The last selling point is your LinkedIn Profile. It MUST match your resume. Again, I am not going to promote my seminars, aside to say that they deal with creating a polished LinkedIn Profile. If you don’t promote yourself….no one else will. Remember, if it is to be, it’s up to me. If you don’t self-promote, someone else will and that person (could be a good friend in the same field) will get the position before you do!! So you ask, “What’s in it for me”. Plenty….a job or new position for starters.

Being “put out to pasture” is no fun. No matter what section of the pasture you end up being in. Growing up and getting gray, is (hopefully) a time that we are all looking forward to. Better we are vertical than horizontal. We read obituaries every day about those in their 60’s who opted to take their own life because they admitted to being (in their own view) losers.

I heard the statement, “God didn’t make junk”. We need to regroup, realize that we have peers and we have support groups who exist simply to help. Are you taking advantage of them? Leaders of these groups can “lead you to the trough” but we can’t make you drink.

You have to do your part. What is your part? Simple, don’t stay in “Section three”. Meander over to the sparse grass and get used to it for a while. Build and keep building. Then, after you’ve built, meander over to the dense grass and START EATING. After all, we are “boomers” and we are what we make of ourselves. Plan B DOES exist. Will you use it? Or will you simply stay by the fence and watch others go for success?

Written by one of CFEC's Guest Bloggers:

Howie Appel, Executive Director
ProNet Career Resources | Keeping Local Professionals Local!