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aging and career change and life transition

Image by Adam Kring on Unsplash.

The New York Times likes to celebrate weddings, especially weddings with an unusual story. Recently they published an article featuring a wedding of two people in their 80s, with the title that “It’s never too late to find love. Just ask these octogenarians.”

Why has this phrase become so popular?

It’s not especially flattering to “older” people. It’s another version of “at your age.” 

In that article, the NY Times says, “How nice they’re getting married…at their age.”

They don’t say,”Isn’t that cute.” But they could have.

It’s not always true. 

Sometimes it IS too late to do something. There’s a saying (attributable to several sources), “Time is not kind to those who wait.”

The Times ran a series of articles with the theme of, “It’s never too late.”

One article featured a college football player who didn’t make it into the NFL. At 35 he was finishing his neurosurgery residency. Could he have started at 35? Or 40?

Apart from physical and corporate limitations, your worldview changes over time. You get the been there, done that effect, regardless of your age.

I don’t like to travel the way I used to. I didn’t mind stuffing myself into a tiny coach seat, staying in the lowest-tier hotels, snacking for lunch,  and getting lost trying to find my destination. Now I travel less but stay longer and insist on comfort. I even take an occasional taxi because getting lost isn’t fun anymore.

It’s not just about age. The country you’ve always wanted to visit may be off limits because they’re in the middle of a crisis or hosting the Olympics or both.

It ignores factors other than age that make or break you. 

One article in the Times series featured a former prison inmate. He served 15 years before going on to become a lawyer. It seems sad to label this journey as “never too late.” This transition requires many qualities of intelligence, purpose, determination, people skills, and more. It’s not at all about his age.

The truth is, it may not be too late to reach a goal. But that goal can be all wrong for you. You can set a goal at age 20 – when it’s clearly not too late – and not reach that goal for many good reasons.

It’s a big ask. But let’s hope it’s never too late to realize that “never too late” is an inherently ageist phrase that has little meaning and much negativity.