How To Avoid Out-Aging Yourself Out Of A Job
Bill Cottringer

“Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter.” ~ Mark Twain.

The workforce in America is becoming more skewed at both ends of the age spectrum—the younger and the older workers. Older workers are trying to delay retirement and hold onto their jobs either because of the uncertain economic climate or just because they want to keep being busy and stay useful, or a little of both. The problem is that in the Information Age, where speed and results to the company’s bottom-line are the main currency, older workers can easily out-age themselves from the rest of the younger workforce and end up without a job to help them keep busy and stay useful. If you are facing this disturbing reality, here are seven practical tips to avoid putting yourself in this worrisome position.

1. Plan Your Attitude.

Mark Twain never out-aged himself from his writing career because he followed his own best advice. He thoughtfully planned his attitude about getting older and how he was going to be as an older person, ahead of time while he still could. If you are approaching sixty and still want to work for another 20 years, then that’s the time to plan your attitude about how you will be as an older worker for your employer, regarding applying these tips below. The right attitude for an older worker to have involves realizing you still don’t know everything you can know to be successful. Be competitive within your own self in this matter.

2. Embrace Technology.

We are in the middle of the Information Age driven by technology that was dramatically memorialized in the recent 30th Olympics Opening Ceremony in London. If this media fast flash and splash pizazz made you uncomfortable, get over it! And if you are still a little hesitant about getting an I-phone, playing X-Box 360, buying an E-read Kindle Tablet or any other available technology advancement, just do it! Without some mastery of quickly evolving technology and work-needed computer software, social media and communication programs, you just fall further behind the curve, when there is no time to dawdle. Technology is not temporary.

3. Stay Stylish.

Just because you may be 70 years old, that doesn’t mean you can’t groom yourself and dress yourself like you are a 30-year old. This is good advice because you generally feel the way you look and if you don’t like how you are feeling, change the way you look! At work, the way you look can greatly influence the way other employees approach or react to you. Think back about what you thought about older people when you were in your teens. Remember that image and don’t be like it! Don’t be afraid to overhaul your wardrobe or get a new look at the men’s or woman’s beauty shop. Read younger magazines or walk the Malls window shopping and people watching to get daring new ideas on this mindset that does matter in the mind over matter challenge before you.

4. Invent Value

In today’s Information Age workplace, speed and results are the only two things that matter most. While it is true that older workers have the wisdom, knowledge and experience that younger workers seem to lack, that is of no value unless that “information” can be quickly applied to add real value to your employers bottom line with tangible financial results. Sometimes you may have to look hard at what you are currently doing at work and re-invent your job and learn new skills that do add real value to your employer’s bottom line. But, this all starts with a positive and open attitude of life-long learning, growing and improving without lingering too long at the deserved and tempting resting spots.

5. Be Well Physically.

Growing old inevitably involves physical deterioration and annoying physical complaints and inabilities—for yourself and others, who generally don’t want to be bothered by this reality. But remember, growing old is driven by your attitude and lifestyle and if those two things aren’t to your benefit and liking with the end results, then there can’t be a happy ending to your working days. Eating right, exercising regularly some way, managing your stress without substance abuse and having passionate hobbies are the only ways to be well physically and emotionally, so that you can work effectively and efficiently and remain an asset to your employer for as long as you choose.

6. Don’t Be A Burden.

Older workers usually cost employers more and this has to be a very real consideration for employers. Look for ways to “share” this financial burden with things like social security income, life insurance premiums, retirement plans, part-time hobby-jobs, and medical insurance policies by looking for unusual ways to pay for some of these costs. Most employers are more than willing to meet you half-way on the extra financial burden you cost your employer because of your age, so step up to the plate and be responsible for initiating this opportunity to decrease your burden. In anything, you always get back what you give.

7. Don’t Hide Behind the Wrong Excuse.

If you are working at an older age just because you can’t afford not to and aren’t willing to change dramatically and quickly to increase the value you give your employer, then you are not being fair to your employer or yourself. It may be time to downsize your personal economy and just “retire” into something that brings in enough money where just showing up for work is enough. There is no disgrace in that and it is often the only responsible thing to do if this is your situation. Of course, if just showing up is not in your DNA, learn from my mother who went back to college at 80 years of age!

“Age is how we determine how valuable you are.” ~Jane Elliot.

Author's Bio: 

William Cottringer, Ph.D. is Executive Vice-President for Employee Relations for Puget Sound Security, Inc. in Bellevue, WA, along with his hobbies in being a Sport Psychologist, Business Success Coach, Photographer and Writer living in the peaceful but invigorating mountains and rivers of North Bend. He is author of several business and self-development books, including, “You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too” (Executive Excellence), “The Bow-Wow Secrets” (Wisdom Tree), “Do What Matters Most” and “P” Point Management” (Atlantic Book Publishers), “Reality Repair” (Global Vision Press), Reality Repair Rx (Authorsden), and “If Pictures Could Talk,” coming soon. Bill can be reached for comments or questions at (425) 454-5011 or