The myth of 22-62 (and how to change your career trajectory)

There are two ages the American population has set as the range for your greatest significance: 22 and 62. You’re “supposed” to graduate college at 22, right? You’re “supposed” to retire at 62, right? And in between those two ages is forty years of making your mark on the corporate world.

No pressure.

At what point did we buy into the myth that 22 to 62 was forced into the this formula:

  • Work an internship and then entry-level job (3-5 years)
  • Promote to a junior-level position (10-15 years)
  • Promote again to a senior-level position (8-15 years), and then,
  • Ultimately get promoted to the big boys’ (or girls’) table as a C-suite executive where you enjoy the fat bonuses and country club membership for the remaining five to ten years.
  • Retire and enjoy either your country club or your Country Buffet discount, depending on how well you planned for retirement.

The myth of 22-62 and how to change your career trajectory - writetojoncookAmericans have been told the lie for years that we have to indenture forty years of our lives for the chance to enjoy life as we want. That all changed with the economy downturn of 2008-2013. Businesses disappeared overnight. Market conditions weeded out straggling employees. Retirement accounts took a massive beating (my own account lost over 45% value), but many have recovered.

What hasn’t recovered is a sense that retirement is a ready option for many Baby Boomers and younger generations, including my own. That’s not a bad thing; in fact, I think it’s a very good result of the economic upheaval.

We need to think differently about the forty years of the American worker’s timeline. Former senior-level account managers quickly find themselves competing for junior-level or even entry-level positions with 20-somethings freshly tasseled from college. The chance to reinvent yourself for a new career or skill set is more inviting that ever.

Whether you’re 25 or 55, now is your time. Give yourself an education via Google. Teach yourself a new technology. Get to know new network connections. Maybe even start your own business. Whatever the opportunity may be, you can create a new future with the right resources and a fresh energy.

I know it’s hard. I know it’s going to take a lot of work. It’s worth your time and effort. Your only excuses are the ones you allow yourself to accept. Use your God-given opportunity to make the most of the time you still have ahead rather than mourning the status or benefits you used to enjoy.

Life isn’t over when you hit 62. Life doesn’t only have to start as soon as you change your tassel. Life is now, no matter your age, and your future is brighter than ever before. Make the most of it.

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