Whether you’re green behind the ears, just graduated and eager to begin your new life as a hard-working business person — or maybe you’ve been in the workforce longer than most college grads have even been alive, chances are you’ve felt the weight of mental and physical exhaustion on your back. From being hunched over a textbook in the library, hunched over a computer in the office, or hunched over a hot stove cooking dinner for the family, you can likely pinpoint the moment you first felt “old.”
As we all know, aging is an inevitable fact of life, but it doesn’t have to be an unpredictable, scary one. While aging can indeed be a cruel mistress, there are so many methods of setting her back, of keeping her placated before she turns on you. Rather than punishing you for your advanced years, you can always appease her for longer, more youthful years, despite the changing of months on the calendar. Going back to school as a non-traditional student, making a sudden career change, pursuing new hobbies — nothing scares aging more than change.
First and foremost, there are the obvious side effects of aging, particularly visual ones. Perhaps lately you’re finding that your coworkers suddenly have to raise their voices around you — or maybe you have to address a hearing problem yourself, in a close friend you’ve known since high school who spent her formative years shrieking in glee every night with a drink in her hand. Maybe your memory isn’t quite as good as it used to be, maybe your grip is a little shakier than you remember.
All of these things are to be expected, but they don’t have to be things that hold you back.
Particularly when you’re still an active member of the workforce, age should be the last thing to hold you back. Of course, there are always things you can do to help fight the side effects of growing older; things such as regular exercise and a healthy diet, which has been shown to decrease the prevalence of dementia in older generations, as well as encouraging an overall positive attitude and outlook on life.
For some, retiring at the “suggested” age either isn’t feasible or perhaps isn’t actually a desire for those who love what they do for a living. Whether that be careers in writing, art, mathematics, or engineering, many people were blessed in the career path they wanted, and now get to reap the benefits of enjoying every day at work.
If you aren’t one of those people, though, it’s important to remember that it’s never too late to make a change in your life, either — if you always really wanted to be an artist, or a doctor, or a chef, or an astronaut … what’s stopping you?
Maybe you’ve been working at a desk your entire life, but realize you’d rather go back to school because charity work and other public service roles would better suit your career or life goals. Maybe you’d prefer to be in a sunlit painting studio all day, reminiscing on the trip to took to France in your earlier years. Maybe you’d even prefer the socialization that working in an energetic office space brings.
Whether it’s your age, your finances, or the thought of escaping your comfort zone, the idea of permanence is a dangerous one. Whether you’re 18 or 80, the thought that you only have a few singular choices in life, or that you have to follow a certain timeline in order to be “successful,” is how people end up unhappy with their lives. The sooner people realize that, the sooner they can turn their lives around into something they’d rather have or be, even if that “something” was never on the radar until recently.
The number of non-traditional students seeking higher education in the US continues to grow every year. Whether they be attending in person, or online, there are more adult students signing up for classes every year. More and more adults are realizing the dangers of a mindset revolving around permanence.
Maybe your goals don’t include returning to school — even just applying yourself with a new zeal into your work is certain to boost your mood and your overall self of being. Maybe your productivity has slipped in the past few years — what’s stopping you from tightening your belt, and going after it wholeheartedly again? Even if you don’t seek any promotions, or a raise in pay, simply seeking out what once inspired you to work hard is enough of a rewarding endeavor in itself. Even just simple day to day things, like developing new, positive habits in your work or home life, are certain to boost your mood and self esteem.
So, whether you’re just settling into a new career you hope to be your one and only or you’ve been working hard at it for decades now, there are so many ways to keep the inspiration and the spark alive. Dedicate yourself to the things you love, don’t be afraid to pursue others you expect you’d love, and make sure to put yourself and your own mental health first, before all else. Throw out the mindset of permanence, and you’re destined for a long life full of positive motivation and happy memories.