I recently went to a networking event. During the introduction round, a lady shyly came forward and spoke about how she always wanted to earn her own money. And now, at the age of 56, when she was done with all her duties, she had started a pickle business. This was her chance to finally make her dream come true. She was taking her first steps out in the world on her own. She had her cards printed which she gingerly handed out to people later.
I commend her zeal to fulfil her dreams at her age in times when the world is said to belong to the young. And most people give in to retired life and surrender their ambitions for this lifetime. This was indeed an inspiring thing for all of us. She truly proved that age is no barrier to start working towards your dreams. I had written a post earlier on how retired people can remain active instead of giving up on life. And with increasing life spans, it’s like we all will have a whole lifetime to do something even after we retire. And in this day and age when people can be anyone they want to, any time is right to begin afresh. One has to start with the right steps. Here are a few things that will help someone on the other side of 50 get back in the game:
1. Think of what you’d like to do: My aunt recently told me that her daughter – my cousin – had now finished her education and had started working. And she’d like to do something with her time. She wanted to use her life experience to help teenagers deal with the issues they face. So step one is to find your unique set of skills and what you want to do with it. Think of what you always wanted to do but had to give in to the pressure of running a life.
2. Get practical: What you are good at might be clear. But it is also important to think a bit ahead and envision how it’ll work out. For instance, it seems easy for my aunt to start counselling from home. But where would her clients come from? Would it be better to associate herself with some college or hospital? Although, things are easy to set up today, it is important to be clear about how you wish to take it forward. Does it involve travel? What are the work hours one will have to invest? Can you work from home? What is the monetary investment required? These are a few basic questions one should try and answer.
3. Become internet savvy: I don’t mean being active on social media platforms. Something simple like reading up on Google is imperative. Since books won’t provide the latest information, it is important to read up online and understand how things work now. Getting a hang of things like Linkedin (for corporate ventures), Facebook groups (for more personal promotion) is important. Getting online is like a free university that can give you all the latest resources you will need.
4. Upgrade your skills: You may have completed your education but it is always a good idea to find out what’s currently relevant to what you want to do. It could be a short certification, an online course or the best books in the field of your choice. If nothing else, how social media works is definitely one of the challenges thrown at us by the times. There are a hundred ways to continue learning and stay updated. You can choose the ones that work the best for you.
5. Act on it: Trying out something new after so many years of being in your comfort zone might seem daunting. And let me warn you – reading up online will only confuse you at first. There is more information out there than one can digest easily. And that is why is it important to be clear about your skills and goals before anything else. And then make a list of things that will get you there. Do you need a certification? Look up your options – full time, part time, online/free or funded. This could be step one. Did you come across any interesting books which you could start on meanwhile? Sink into it. You can find lots of free pdfs online. Can you think of someone who knows this stuff well? Make that call and fix some time with him/her. We all want to do so many things in our lives. But unless we it write down – yes, literally write down – how we are going to do them, it will all remain a dream.
6. Start networking: This is another “must-have” in your list, thanks to the times we live in. It isn’t enough to be good and tell your neighbours and relatives about it. You have to spread your net far and wide and be heard above the din of others’ voices online. If this sounds like a scary prospect, worry not. You can – based on your research online – choose where your best chance of finding your customers is. If Facebook is your comfort zone, start connecting with people there and tell them what you are doing. Join Facebook group relevant to your new interest. You will find events that you can attend and meet people in person – like the lady at the beginning of my post did. This not just introduces to new people but it is also a great motivating activity when you see others trying to make it on their own.
7. Be patient: I am sometimes overwhelmed by so much there is to handle on an everyday basis. Social media accounts, blogging, networking plus household chores – there is always something that gets left out. But being at it is the only way out. And this is why it is critical to be passionate about what you want to pursue. The conviction that you are good at it and can do it well will make you last. You will make good progress and become an expert at things as you go by.
There is nothing more satisfying than doing something we we love and enjoy doing. There are always constraints from the family or society which force us to make decisions that our hearts aren’t in. But it’s never too late. You are better equipped with rich life experience now than ever before. Go ahead and enrich the world with it!