She’s here to offer advice to Hoopla readers… whatever your problem may be.
I am turning 60 next year and my boss asked me today whether I’d like to consider going part time after my birthday.
My initial reaction is fury – I have worked in the same place for 30 years. I am loyal, hardworking and love my job. How dare he suggest I ease myself out?
Later over a few drinks with my son and his children I started to think about spending more time with my grandchildren. Part time would mean that I could pick the kids up from school one day a week.
I don’t know whether to go in fighting for my full-time job or to give up gracefully and go part time for half the money!!!!
What a difference it makes to have control over these decisions that are inevitable in the last quarter of life. At some stage we must ease out of paid work and into other work whether it be 60, 70 or 80 –but the decision as to when should very much lie with you.
There is no doubt that most employers in Australia still consider age to be a factor that makes workers less desirable. This is wrong, wrong, wrong. It is wrong based on masses of worldwide evidence that shows that older workers are highly productive, that their skills are hard to replace and cost employers a monty. Older workers are invaluable members of the workforce.
It is wrong because it is just plain discrimination to take away work from a person because of their age, gender, sexuality, race etc.
But putting aside the fact that the initiation of this suggestion is wrong, there is some value in using what could be seen as a crisis to review your life and think about opportunities for change.
Life is all about change. If it isn’t it is hardly worth living. And the 60s bring a great opportunity for review and new decisions.
Turning 60 means that our minds have the opportunity to become slightly focused on the fact that life ends at some stage. Every day becomes more and more valuable in these last decades. So you reviewing where you’re at might be include checking the balance between your work and your relationships (and for many people they overlap so making loss of work even more painful).
Where do your grandchildren fit into your life? Are you making robust relationships with them that are satisfying to all of you? Are there other relationships you would like to have more time for? With friends, family, partners?
Do you aspire to travel? Do you have the money to do so or is work and the fulltime income that comes from it necessary for you to fulfill this aspiration, if it is one?
Do you have creative projects you have put on hold – waiting until you are not so busy?
One thing that is absolutely true is that the sixties is a time to take things off the future list and put them on the present list. Every year and decade is lucky after sixty.
While the sixties might be coined as the new middle age – that is actually a fantasy about living forever without illness or disability. Whatever we fantasise, a fantasy is all it is because we are going to become ill, disabled and die. This is because we are not immortal.
So use your boss’s “wrong” discriminatory question as an opportunity for you to rethink your life.
If you want to keep on working – then prepare a response to him that argues your value and your commitment. and if this fails then look at new work opportunities (and consider taking him to the Equal Opportunities Commission in your State).
But you may make other choices. Now’s your time to decide.
I feel stuck in a rut from hell. I am in a rut with my job – I have been in the same job now for 12 years and I haven’t got the energy to try to change the work or apply for a new one.
I have been stuck in a rut in the same relationship with a man who doesn’t even want children and I do. And he isn’t even interested in talking to me, much less having sex. Every day when I get home from my mind-numbing job, we sit in front of TV with our dinners on our knees and watch endless episodes of Dexter. I feel like I could become a murderer like Dexter from boredom and frustration.
My life is going nowhere, something has to change or I’ll go nuts.
The only thing wrong with a rut is when you want something different. Some people live contentedly in ruts for their entire lives. They enjoy the certainty and seeming security of a rut.
But even those people who choose ruts as their way of life are lucky if their rut lasts a lifetime. Because ruts have their own built in engines of change. Workplaces downsize or restructure and the job that was in a rut has changed or gone. Partners get attracted to someone or someplace else and so that rut also changes or is gone.
In facing the fact that lives usually change, the decision we all need to make is it going to be us choosing the changes we would like or are we going to sit back and wait for life to act on us.
If you decide to wait for life to enact its changes on you, you may well continue to feel lack-lustre, bored, frustrated and even murderous.
The first step if you want to be part of life is to decide what you really want to do and become. You need to start dreaming – no holds barred. The dreaming should encompass your emotional life – is it sufficiently lively, relational with friends, family and your partner. Is it compassionate for yourself and others and are you fully engaged? What about your creative life – are you imagining, inventing and playing with new ideas in many different formats, until you find a way to express yourself.
Next you have to start communicating. First of all with your partner. Set aside a half a day where there can be no TV, music or other distractions, including sex, and give each other thirty minutes each swapping back and forth, back and forth – and talk. Talk about all of your dreams and hopes. And listen to his. At the end of each thirty minutes take five minutes and summarise the your partner’s points and allow him to clarify or correct. It’s time you two learned to talk to each other. And as important it’s time for you to listen to each other. Structure this for every second day in the evenings instead of TV. You must build in talking and listening to all those who are supposed to be close to you.
If you find after giving it a good go that there’s nothing to say or to hear that keeps you together – then it may be time to move on.
And you may need to spend some time living on your own – still talking and listening with friends and new friends until you crave and demand communication as a primary element of any new relationship – including the one with your current partner – because if you can build in communication it will in fact be a new relationship.
Your ideal job will be far more likely to emerge when you truly find out what inspires you.
Meanwhile you have a lot of work to do in order to live your life as it deserves to be lived – to the full.
*Rhonda Galbally AO has focussed her life’s work on making a difference for a more equitable society. A CEO for 25 years in business, public sector and philanthropy, Rhonda has led the creation and development of a number of cutting-edge organisations such as the Australian National Preventative Health Agency, VicHealth, Our Community and the Australian Commission for the Future.
Rhonda is currently Chair of the Royal Women’s Hospital, Chair of the National People with Disability and Carers Advisory Council, Deputy Chair of the Government’s Advisory Committee for the establishment of the National Disability insurance Scheme. Rhonda chairs the International Board for the evaluation of ThaiHealth.
Rhonda was recognised with an Order of Australia in 1990, and two Doctorates (Honoris Causa) from Latrobe University (1998) and Royal Melbourne University of Technology (2007). Rhonda is Patron of Compassionate Friends.