What Happened to My Chair?
The Gen X Guide to Career Satisfaction
I admit, I never saw it coming. Growing old that is. I remember being too young to be taken seriously, then gaining some experience and looking sideways at my older colleagues who just didn’t seem to ‘get it’. Today, I’m often the old guy out in the wilderness.
In 2019, I’m 55 years old. Firmly straddling 2 epic generations: Baby Boomers and Gen X. The world – for me – was well laid out by those who came before. Things were where they were supposed to be – and then BAM!
Today office spaces look more like coffee shops or amusement parks. Standing is the new sitting, open space has replaced the closed door, and dogs are colleagues too.
Now before I complete the caricature of a grumpy old man, let me confess I enjoy seeing all this. It really is cool and represents the breaking down of many barriers that were no doubt problematic. The problem is, that’s not how I’m wired.
I’m not wired to do all my work on an iPhone. I don’t document my life in pictures hoping for likes and shares from my followers. I prefer a desk where my computer sits connected to the things I need. I am easily distracted if I don’t have my own ‘space’ – equipped with walls and a door. I’m not a Neanderthal who hates people; it is simply that I learned to work in a different world and those old habits are hard to break.
In fact, I don’t want to break them!
I started in the workforce in the late 1980’s. We had no cell phones. We had no Internet. Printers and fax machines were how we documented our work. (I still print a document to do a final proof). As our careers progressed, we learned about things like personal computers, modems, email, broadband, ethernet, laptops, PowerPoint, Personal Digital Assistants, Skype, Wi-Fi, smart phones, tablets, and much, much more.
Each new technology changed the way we worked, communicated, and interacted. At some point – for many of us – we developed the habits that now define us. Define us as ‘out of touch’ or ‘dinosaurs’ to a younger generation seeing us the same way we did our elders.
And those who judge – as we did – are WRONG!
We may not be defining fashion or workplace layout anymore, but we’re far from dead. In many ways, our experience has given us strengths younger generations lack. One habit we’ve had to acquire over the last 3 decades is the ability to adapt. We’ve seen shifts not only in technology but also in social norms, communication standards, and business practices. The good news is that if you are feeling a bit out of step in a culture dominated by Millennials and Gen Z, simply do what they do:
Find a better option.
As employers focus on attracting and keeping a younger employee base, perhaps it is time to shift from employee to vendor. Moving your skills to the marketplace where many people can benefit from your knowledge and experience.
Recent statistics show us that 56% of workers over the age of 50 will end up losing their job before retiring. With those numbers working against you, why not take your future into your own hands.
Once you do, if you decide to sit down, no one can stop you.
Dave Anderson is CEO of Leadstra. Leadstra works with Corporate Refugees and Business Owners to start and grow businesses.