By David Esworthy
There is the old cliché that “you are only as old as you feel”. There is a lot of truth in that. I have found that in many ways my thoughts are not that different than they were 40 or 50 years ago except they have a lot more experience to steer them. If only our darn bodies could keep up! So now that we have reached the age of what Dr. Carolyn Anderson so kindly calls “the Experienced Generation”, what are our options?
We can sit in that rocking chair and wither away or we can listen to the words of Dwight D. Eisenhower and “save that rocker for the day when I feel as old as I really am”
I chose the latter option. I “retired” some fifteen years ago from my position as CEO of a manufacturing company where I had worked for 40 years. At age 65, it seemed to be time for a change. For the next ten years I was kept busy sharing what I had learned with a variety of companies and associations that needed some assistance. Throughout my career I had also been involved as a volunteer with a number of diverse organizations.
My penchant for “speaking up” invariably resulted in “why don’t you do it” and ending up as a Director, or more often, as Chair. This included a term as Chair of the Vancouver General Hospital, President, and after seven years, Chair of the Canadian Equestrian Federation, President of the Greater Vancouver Fire Protection Association, Director of the Vancouver Board of Trade, as well as a member of a number of industry and trade related committees.
This type of involvement continues today. Some of my current or more recent activities arise from these sources. Director and Vice-President of the Justice Institute of B.C. Foundation, current Chair of the B.C. Transplant Research Foundation, past-President of the Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce, current Chair of the Langley Spirit of B.C. Community Committee, Past Chair of the Township of Langley Economic Development Commission, Judge of Equestrian Show Jumping. Chair of the Property Assessment Review Panel for Langley, member of the Employment Canada Board of Referees, and the list goes on.
I do want to make it clear, I am not any special kind of person. I do enjoy being involved and hope that I can make some contribution to the community and Province in which I live. But from a personal perspective, I am too busy to get “old”. The reason I’m saying this is to give those of you in the “experienced generation” who are reading this some insight into what you may do to stay young in mind and spirit.
So let’s look at what we can do. We can, and must, stay current and involved. There are many ways to accomplish this regardless of the limitations our body tries to put on us. One of the most valuable commodities that we possess is our experience. No matter what that experience may be, it can make a contribution. Yes, you say, but how can I use my knowledge and abilities in a practical way? What goals do I want to set and how do I reach them?
The key word is “goals”. I find it easier to set my goals over a shorter period than I did 40 years ago. It doesn’t matter if it something that you wish to accomplish in a week, month, or a year, If you have a goal, or goals, they will keep you going and give you a great sense of accomplishment when you get there. Then go on to the next one.
It doesn’t matter what you have learned over the course of your career, that knowledge is valuable to others. You must decide what you wish to do. If you are interested in earning some income, that knowledge is saleable and invaluable to individuals or companies that are starting out or experiencing difficulties. However, a whole new world exists out there in the field of volunteerism. It is impossible to put a dollar value on what you gain in personal satisfaction. The need for your talents is great. I urge you to get out there and find the niche, or niches, that suit you the best. That may be your first goal!
I think that Senator Theodore F. Green summed it up when he said “Most people say that as you get old, you have to give up things. I think you get old because you give up things”. I think he was right.