As a work coach, specialising in working with women in male-dominated fields like STEM, I was reminded recently to think about the ‘gifts’ that age bestows no matter how old you are. Successful business women use the ‘ageing yourself’ technique to shift their perspective and as a result reduce anxiety.
It was timely, as for my recent birthday, I had to return to the opticians to update my prescriptions. This is an increasingly common occurrence – not exactly ‘gift material’ for my special day 😉
In fact, ‘ageing yourself’ is a trick you can use anytime for yourself or your colleagues for much needed perspective.
Age: the birthday gift that keeps on giving?
I recently was hired by Rhoda, an Engineer, to be her work coach after discovering she was pregnant with her first child. She had recently started a new role. Her employer was very supportive, something I make the most of as a work coach to these type of professional women who often give themselves a very high bar to hit.
However, Rhoda was anxious about how to spend her last few weeks before maternity leave. Should see focus on soliciting high-value new clients, reassuring old clients or researching potential new revenue streams?
When faced with a challenge, ask yourself: ‘What would the older, wiser version of myself say about this in a few years time?’
What will your wiser, older self say to you now?
As her work coach, I asked her the above question, and before my eyes, she gave me a shy smile and visibly relaxed. This perspective shifting was invaluable to Rhoda.
She imagined her son at 5 years old, and how she’d want to remember the last 6 weeks before his birth. Rhoda realised that this time would pass too quickly, and she should enjoy it while she could.
Rhoda sighed ‘My boss is understanding. He picked me as I had a track record that I’ll pick up when I’m back. I’ll spend my last few weeks looking over a few notes. But I realise most of my time should be spent on ensuring the team I’m still getting to know, see me as an individual. They need to see that I’m doing what they should do and focus on my health.’
What could ‘ageing yourself’ give you?
This ‘ageing’ process is salient for me on my birthday, and it may be useful for you too. Even reflecting I’ve now hit the highest credential awarded by the International Coach Federation – the MCC, is something I routinely have to remind myself of as it’s now in the past tense!
I’m probably not the only one who’s gone through periods when I’ve felt business wasn’t moving fast enough only to later think ‘Where’d the time go? It’s all moved so quickly!’
Anyone who sees loved ones, particularly parents and children, age around them knows this to be true. If you too often sit in this anxious place like I’ve done; give yourself a break. Instead, I’d advocate as a work coach, think about what you’ve already accomplished. Realise the time you are ‘waiting’ for things to happen will go faster than you imagine.
If however, you are thinking about a big career change – perhaps at midlife, there are ways to make that work well. These can range between going self-employed to negotiating a different role with your current employer.
If you’re thinking about what next – take a look at the video below.