“Today is the oldest you’ve ever been, and the youngest you’ll ever be again.” — Eleanor Roosevelt
If 2016 showed us anything, it’s that mortality gets us all. I still pause when I think of the iconic figures we lost last year. It reminds me every new day we get to make it through this thing called “life” is more than proverbial gravy – it is literally living. Whether you’ve had about ten thousand of those days or closer to twenty thousand; whether you’re a music icon or cubemate next door, we all matter, and we all have a purpose to serve.
Here are a few suggestions from someone on the upswing towards the 20K-day marker:
Hit the Books.
Or, as the kids say, “#GoogleIt.” There is an infinite number of webinars, blog sites, podcasts, online tutorials and social groups to join that cover as many topics. The last thing we can do as the “older statespeople” of the office is to shun the current wave of how things are done. I’m not saying grow a beard and wear a fedora. More like, take a legit class on social media, inbound marketing or how to use Adobe Creative Suite. Follow the likes of GovGirl, Mark Ragan, Mashable, Skimm, all things TED and Paley, Code for America, the Nerdist or Lin-Manuel Miranda. If you’re not sure what to do, take that thing called pride, shove it through the shredder and ask somebody!
Do what you love, not what you’re too tired to do otherwise.
I get it. The daily 8-5 is never truly confined to the ascribed grind. Careers like ours often require 24/7 babysitting of social media or get sandwiched between picking up teenagers from dance class and accompanying aging parents to countless doctors’ appointments. It. Is. Exhausting. So, you lurk through your old high school sweetheart’s vacation pics with his third wife. You do the blank-Twitter-scroll-stare. Or binge watch The Walking Dead (#graagaagh). Stop that. It may sound counter-intuitive to add one more thing to your to-do list, but take time for an improv class, join a cycling gang (motor or bike) or sew a quilt like your grandmother taught you. Doing these things we love actually increases our productivity and wherewithal at work. Wanna know why? Happiness – that’s why.
Embrace. Don’t Erase.
Ever kept and seriously studied that gray hair you plucked from the top of your head? If you have, you know they are hearty, substantial and wiry. In fact, you could take several, braid them together and make a rope strong enough to hold you as you scale down your ten-story office building trying to escape yet another meeting about having too many meetings. (Do not attempt – either scaling the building or meeting about meetings. Trust me.) My point is gray hair represents more than age. It’s physical proof that you have survived, thrived and maybe even jived your way to this very moment. This isn’t an edict stating you can’t color it – more of a reminder to color it for the right reasons. Like your love of the color purple. Or to support the Dallas Cowboys even though their latest run to the Super Bowl was cut a game short (that was not pass interference). Don’t color it because you absolutely dread finding one more gray hair.
In the end, life is not lived “on the clock” and “off the clock.” It is lived. And, it should never be about what we can’t do because we’re too old, and they can because they’ve got youth on their side. It’s about discovering all the things we can do together.
Kathleen Vaught is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.
“…My point is gray hair represents more than age. It’s physical proof that you have survived, thrived and maybe even jived your way to this very moment. This isn’t an edict stating you can’t color it – more of a reminder to color it for the right reasons. Like your love of the color purple. Or to support the Dallas Cowboys even though their latest run to the Super Bowl was cut a game short (that was not pass interference). Don’t color it because you absolutely dread finding one more gray hair…”
Thank you Kathleen! My mantra is, “Gray is OK!”, (in fact I had a blog several years ago extolling the virtues of going gray at an early age). And you are right, though we may be gray, we still need to be relevant to the workplace and society so we can continue to contribute positively to our communities and nation.
Thanks for reading, Nena! #GrayHairStrong is my motto. Although, I do think I would like the color purple someday. 😉
Great article, thank you!
Thanks for reading!
Thanks, you made this old man feel a little better about still being here and living each day.
Thanks for reading, Norm! IMO, the more we feel better about ourselves in the workforce, the more we all benefit! #GrayHairStrong. 🙂
Yes! Do what you love, people!
Daria – absolutely! The more gray hair I have, the more I am reminded that there is no reason *not* to do those things we love. I’m a life-long, loud-and-proud theatre geek. It may not pay the mortgage, but it definitely fills my soul. 🙂
I’m 52 and my hair has been purple, green, and turquoise for over a year.
And it certainly was pass interference.
Love that color combination, Stephanie! I bet it is beautiful!
And, I will admit sometimes the silver and blue that runs through my veins prevents my optic nerve prevents me from being able to see calls in the same way the referees and others do. 😉
Great article, Kathleen! I don’t have children but I do have a full-time job, commitments to my church and an aging mother who refuses to let her hair go gray and has never been a day over 39!
Great article! It makes me more determined than ever to stay relevant in my chosen field of communication. It is a truly exciting time for communicators even when you come from the days of pre-internet when newspapers ruled in reaching your audience.