Age = Expertise: Don't Waste It

I am now a few years over the 50-year old line. So far age has been kind to me - in terms of health and overall energy. And that’s a good thing, because I have never been so energized around my work. Malcom Gladwell’s book ‘Outliers’ talks about the ‘ten-thousand hour rule,’ basically, it takes at least that long doing something fairly consistently to gain any type of expertise.  Makes sense. When I picked up golf, my pro made it very clear that I would never be a great golfer. In his estimation, though I was an excellent pupil with tons of promise, I didn’t have enough time to become really good. I’d started late in life, and though I had gotten my handicap to a decent 21, which is not bad for a late starting lady, I’d have to take up golf full-time if I ever wanted to make anything meaningful of my game.

So, what have I put over 10K hours into over the years? PR, creative writing, philanthropic work, pursuing my faith. At 53 I find myself deeply involved in all these areas and totally excited and committed, though some days a tad bit overwhelmed by the enormity of those commitments. As I write, looking out at the Swiss Alps on a few much-needed days of rest, I have asked myself, what can I remove from this list? Let’s see, stop writing? Well, I couldn’t be more excited about a young adult series I’ve started. Close my business? But, I am finally able to do what I do in such a way that it’s fun. I actually love this crazy, stressful world. Stop supporting charities that I care about? No way. And then there is this start-up I’m a part of that merges a lot of these skills, should I ditch it? I don’t think so. Plus, I’m not giving up on my faith, which includes supporting my husband’s international work. Nope. Never. All those hours have finally coalesced into one big interesting soup, all the bits swirling together to create a wonderful tapestry that can be exhausting and exhilarating at the same time.

Here’s the thing, wherever you are on the compendium of life you are all heading into your expert years, the era where all the hard work of your youth will pay off.

For those younger than me, instead of sometimes dreading the challenges of what you do now, because our work and hobbies tend to be harder when we’re green, you’ll start loving them. And for those like me, let’s face it, we’re living longer than ever and the concept of retirement is really just a concept these days, isn’t it? Who can afford it, anyway? So, don’t feel guilty if, like me, you think you should wind down but can’t quite seem to. These are your productive years, the years where your expertise shines through. And young friends, be a little respectful of your elders, they most assuredly know more than you – you’ll find this out, when you really do know more than everyone else.