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Did you see the Harry Potter movies?
If so, you’ll remember the weirdly wonderful Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where friendly ghosts roam the halls and painted portraits talk to the students and each other.
Strangest of all is Hogwart’s enormous network of moving staircases. Stairs shift without warning, sometimes while students are in mid-ascent, forcing them to plot new paths to reach their destination.
Sometimes life can feel like that. Just when you’re starting to make progress, the stairway moves. The formerly straight path takes a turn, forcing you to make a choice.
Either alter your course or find yourself stuck.
This is especially true when it comes to our careers.
Like that magical staircase, the landscape of business and the world of work is constantly shifting.
Employees are frequently asked to abandon old systems and habits to master new skills and technologies. Even small business owners, like me, must constantly up their business acumen and adapt to changes in technology.
Change happens. If you’re looking for a new opportunity, segueing between a layoff and a new job, trying to get a promotion, or simply seeking to survive as a small business owner, keeping your skills current is crucial.
But if you’re over 50 and your school days are decades in the distance, how can you keep up with the pace of change?
Become a lifelong learner.
ADOPT AN “I GOT THIS” ATTITUDE
We’ve all heard jokes about the supposed technological cluelessness of people over 50. I’ve cracked a few myself, sometimes at my own expense.
However, given proper exposure and training, there’s no reason to assume that older workers are any less capable of learning and using new technologies or skills than younger employees.
Don’t buy into the stereotype.
In your lifetime, you’ve learned all sorts of things and met all kinds of challenges. Mastering new technologies or skills will be just one more in a long list of your accomplishments.
It’s never too late to learn something new. Tackling new tasks with a positive attitude will take you halfway to the win.
NETWORKING AND PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS
Continuing to network and be involved in professional organizations is an important means of keeping up with change.
Most professional organizations feature frequent programs and workshops to keep their members up to date on the latest industry trends. Attending those programs should be a priority for you. Be sure you arrive in time to take part in the social side of the event. Networking with others in your field is an important way to find out about new business leads and ideas. You also have a duty to mentor the younger generation. Look for ways to bring others under your wing.
SHARPEN YOUR PENCIL AND GO BACK TO SCHOOL
Find out if your employer offers any advanced training classes in house or reimbursement or incentives to participate in workshops or obtain professional certifications. The human resource department will be able to give you the information you need.
Even if your employer doesn’t offer or won’t pay for additional training, you should still consider going back to school to sharpen your old skills or gain new ones. This article from AARP has loads of information about different types of educational opportunities plus tips on how to pay for them.
If you need to up your Apple computer or iPhone skills, expert (and FREE!) instruction may be as close as your local Apple Store. You can either book an appointment at the Genius Bar for one-on-one help or you can pop in during studio hours, where you can work alongside other professionals on projects together (like video editing or creating presentations), with instructors there to help answer any questions you might have and teach you new tricks.
Lynda.com is another amazing resource with tutorials and online courses on how to do ANYTHING on your computer, from project management and negotiation to leadership skills and online marketing strategy. Their professional tutorials can help you learn SEO, spreadsheets, word processing, graphic design, and more!
THE CONFERENCE THAT PUT ME ON THE PATH
After purchasing the domain “Fierce Beyond 50,” I sat on the name for more than a year.
Though I loved the idea of starting a lifestyle blog for women over fifty, I had real doubts about my ability to make it happen.
The writing part didn’t scare me. After all, I’ve spent much of my life writing professionally. But running a blog involves a lot more than writing posts. How would I design my blog? Find an audience? Manage the technological aspects?
When it came to the day-to-day business of running a blog, I didn’t even know what I didn’t know! Once I did know, how would I find time to do it?
There were all kinds of reasons for me not to start this blog. And only one reason to start it.
I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
Finally, I signed up to attend a blogger’s conference. The conference fee wasn’t cheap but I thought it would help me make up my mind; was I going to go ahead with the blog or not?
By the end of the weekend, I had my answer.
Oh, heck, yes!
THE ONLINE COURSE THAT BROUGHT ME THE REST OF THE WAY
Attending that conference helped ignite my passion about starting a blog and gave me confidence that I could actually do it.
What it didn’t do was teach me the nuts and bolts of blog development and operation. There’s only so much information you can absorb in weekend conference.
When the conference ended, I purchased a very thorough but not inexpensive online course for bloggers. The investment was worth it. So were the many, many hours I spent working through the materials, completing the assignments, and interacting with my fellow online students.
Learning to develop and run my blog wasn’t easy.
The conference gave me the confidence I needed to take the plunge. The online course gave me the tools I needed to succeed. I’ve made a pretty good start but I know there’s always room for improvement.
I also know that change is a fact of life. The staircase is always moving. The path to success is constantly shifting. And that’s okay. It’s what keeps life interesting.
That’s why, the day after I launched this blog, I dove back into my online classwork. Because an interesting life – and a fierce one – means you never stop learning.