Many employers hesitate to hire people over the age of 50. Society sends all-too-frequent stereotypical messages about seniors becoming a burden and not pulling their weight.
But is that truth or fiction?
In 2019, boomers had a combined wealth of almost $60 trillion ª the largest of any living generation and more than double that of Gen X. That’s a lot of money to dismiss, and it’s a clear sign that boomers are not a financial burden to society.
The bigger question really should be, “What is the value of wisdom and experience?”
Millennials and Gen Z people may more readily see us as slower to react, both mentally and physically. They may not notice we can solve a problem in half the steps they can because we’ve been through similar situations many times before.
What are we to do if others aren’t noticing our contribution?
The simple answer? Find validation and love from within. Self-worth is key. No one can give it to you; no title, nip, tuck, or portfolio can provide it.
Since you control your self-worth, let’s explore ways to build it.
Take a Personal Inventory
Take an inventory of your experience, honors, education, hobbies, volunteer work, skills, and strengths to remind yourself of your worth and contributions. List what you’re grateful for, and don’t forget what may be one of your most important jobs — CEO of your household — is a significant responsibility. List what you’re proud of, regardless of whether others would agree.
As you build this list, consider your impact on those in your world. Think of each of your jobs; consider all the people throughout your life and how you may have made a difference to them — and vice versa. Who are you still in touch with, or what re-connection would you like to make?
With each hobby you list, consider what it is about that activity that brings you joy. What is it about knitting or golfing that you love? Listing each of your strengths and remember how they have served you. Then imagine how they might help something new emerge from deep within.
Once complete, study your inventory and marvel at the legacy you’re leaving behind. You’ll want to come back to it again and again.
I can imagine some of you pushing back and saying, “So what. Who cares? No one will even respond to my job application. They’ll never know about my inventory of greatness!”
That may be true — but you’ll know. And I’m willing to bet that, after the inventory, your step will be a little quicker, you’ll hold your head a bit higher, and others will notice something new about you.
Think of self-worth as a muscle. Just as you wouldn’t start weightlifting with 100-pound dumbbells, don’t expect perfection immediately. Begin with baby steps: Compliment yourself when you catch yourself doing something right.
One of my tricks: I often forget why I’m heading into another room. When I remember, usually just a moment later, I thank myself. It’s my own “atta-girl!”
Be a Champion
Before others see me as smart or successful, I must first think I’m smart or successful.
No one can calculate your worth but you. It’s not a number: Your personal inventory should have easily disproven any idea about your own lack of value. Now the work is to believe it by being your own best champion.
Consider these tips:
- Don’t talk trash to or about yourself. If and when you start, stop mid-sentence. Replace the judgment with a statement of love or support: “You’ve got this,” “I’ll figure it out,” or the infamous “That was easy.”
- When someone criticizes you without invitation, stand up for yourself. Say, “I’m not available for this right now,” “Thank you for the feedback,” or “That’s an interesting point of view.” This process also works instead of defending yourself when someone attacks you.
- Talk up your good points. Refer often to your personal inventory as a reminder of what a wonderful person you are. This repetition will help embed the ideas in your mind, giving you confidence and supporting strong self-worth.
At this year’s Academy Awards, Lady Gaga said, “You can be your own hero, even if you feel broken inside.”
Follow her advice and be your own best champion.