Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Commentary: Youthfulness and the Older Worker

Judith Timson writes in the Globe and Mail that for older workers wanting to be professionally wanted in a youth-obsessed culture have apparently found a solution--"We're not young any more, we're 'youthful.'"
Whenever I read the word "youthful" applied to anyone over 40, as it is frequently these days, I ask myself: Is this relentless need to redefine the middle-aged as young -- or, more importantly, not old -- a desperate bid by the boomers to hold on to the spotlight at all costs?

Or have we successfully reframed the idea of aging and, with all sorts of new cosmetic, spiritual and physical avenues, simply set the bar higher for how we are all supposed to look and feel?
Referring to the "countless articles and websites offering advice to midlife job seekers worried about appearing old," she says many are absurdly obvious, but she also senses that women in today's work force still have to worry more about aging than men do. However, she suggests that looking good (not necessarily youthful) and looking fit are especially important for older workers looking to get ahead. On the other side, there are certain behaviours that signal "older worker:" "Going to a business event, for example, and reminiscing about the past the whole time -- not a good thing. A few old combat stories are fine but then go ask younger colleagues what stirs their interests in your field these days. You have to stay curious to stay youthful."

Source: "Youthful is as youthful does" The Globe and Mail (February 1, 2006)

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