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Freeman Cebu Business

Midlife in the midst of work

TRADE FORUM - Chris Malazarte - The Freeman

I am so sorry for having been away for some time. A lot of things have happened to me lately, which is mostly out of the country trips, seminars and health issues. Yes, age has finally caught up with me and the vigor, dexterity and strength of youth have started to wear out. As well, and for some reason, you are at odds with yourself whether or not you are relevant to the events and people around you. I don’t know if this is what they call “midlife crisis.” All I know is that, we must go through all the changes that come with old age – gray hair, episodes of lethargy, joint pains (back pain in my case) and all those unpleasant shifts in our physical makeup. 

The psycho-emotional part is something that I am so curious in a sense that I am not confident with my ideas anymore. There seems to be tons of good ideas that even your very own kids trust Google or Youtube better than your own. Then you start to question your value and self-worth, “Does my opinion really matter?” or "Do they even follow or read this column? And if they did, did they thumbs up what they read or they read them because they were just bored or just wanted to have fun with my picture or with what I wrote?"

I feel that I should write about this because I am quite sure that there are also people who have similar issues with me and that the struggle is real. Interestingly, and in the business sense, I would like to say that part of the reason why there seems to be a connection between age and conflicts in organization is because the old guards want to preserve the status quo while the new breed challenges it with equal zeal. The veterans invoke experience and can be very difficult to persuade to embrace new ways even if those ways are plausible. Take a look at our government offices. The first to object of any new system are always the old ones. “I know how it is done. I eat this stuff every single day of my life here in this office, and you have no idea how much I have contributed to make this thing work!”

The conflict comes from resistance to new processes. At the surface, we blame the senior guys for being traditionalists or flat outdated. But if you have to think about it, they can actually prove to you that the old ways still work and that any new changes may be unnecessary and expensive. But my question really is, why do they think that way? Those who are older than us actually do understand the situation better than anyone. What makes them so hard to handle is maybe because they are going through a lot of changes in their life that most of us do not see. People who have reached the middle-age also start to become sensitive. They don’t lose their objectivity that’s for sure – they only lose their positivity.

Think about it, when you are in your forties your children enjoy more going out with their friends than your picnics. Your siblings are all busy with work and so are your friends. Your spouse may also be very busy or is more interested in soaps, zumba, or the chores. Thing is, it is at this point in a person’s life that he starts to feel alone. What also comes along in this period of midlife is that one or both your parents need extra care and you worry about the bills or maybe one of your parents just passed away.

You also get sick so frequently or you may have discovered that you have hypertension, or some infirmities that slowly eat up your savings. It is in this part of our life that emotional and financial challenges can be too overwhelming that people in this age category ponder more on those things than in their work or business.

While we are all aware of these realities in life, we have not touched this part seriously in terms of discussion or research as to its impact on our relationships with our colleagues at work or partners in business. Companies have not also thought about generation gap issues in the organization and how it affects their synergy and team work. Yes, the new generation is aggressive, intelligent and creative but it also blind to the emotional privation that their co-workers or associates are presently reeling.

The most that we can do for now is to really open our minds. If you fall in the category of the millennials like me (I wish…lol), we salute your brilliance but never lose your brilliance of character to understand and be patient with people who have come before you. You push your ideas not because you know better but because you gained it from them. In other words, what you know today is basically an improvement of what you learned thus, you owe it to them the initial knowledge. You have to acknowledge and include them in your plans whatever changes you want to establish in your business or company. Let them feel that it is also “their idea” so they would feel their participation and sense of ownership.

And you, the guy like me, yes I’m talking to you…retrain yourself to forget about the worries when you are called to make a business decision or when asked to throw some ideas. Find time to meditate and loosen yourself up a bit – take a vacation if you must. And above all, when you are beginning to think that you are starting to get old, you actually are. So give up the hair, enjoy the lines and erase the phone number of your dermatologist and breathe normally.

Or so Desiderata says, “Take kindly the counsel of the years and gracefully surrender the things of youth.” I think I need a beer!

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