Is It an Excuse

Last week I wrote about adapting, how we must keep learning and changing in order to survive.  The comments were amazing, prompting me to continue thinking about the subject.  So here’s some new thoughts on the subject of adapt or die.

We’re going to start with an anecdote.  When my Husband was about 40, he decided he wanted to be promoted to the next level at his job.  After speaking with his boss, he was told that he needed to have an MS in Tax.  Without this piece of paper, there would be no more promotions.  He already had an MBA, so this would be a second advanced degree.   He already worked a lot of hours.  We had a young daughter.  He asked me what I thought.  I told him to go for it- get the degree.  And he did.  Three years of going to school at night, after a 10 hour day…he completed his course of action.  He didn’t love sitting in a classroom again.  He didn’t love studying on weekends when he would rather have done other things.  A few people actually mocked him- asked him why he was bothering, at his age.  At his age, they said, he should be teaching a class, not enrolling in one.  But he adapted to his environment, his reality.  If you want something you do what it takes.

40 is not old, yet people told him he was too old to go to school.

Which brings us to the next point:  is being old, or older a reason not to change?

There were some comments last week about being tolerant of older people who may not like using the internet, that maybe there was no reason why these people should change/adapt.  Here’s my thoughts:

We should be tolerant of everyone, regardless of the situation.  I ask for tolerance every day, because WordPress and I have a love/hate relationship.  I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing half the time.  I learn what I can, and hope that no one notices the obvious gaffes.  I get frustrated and I muddle through.  There are times I’m doing something technical, and I’m on with customer support, and I will say “Talk to me as if I know nothing.  Explain it to me in baby steps.”  I hope that I get help from someone who understands that it takes me five minutes to find the backslash key on my computer, and that I still refer to “hashtag” as “number sign”.  So yes, tolerance to all those who are not as savvy, whatever the situation may be.

But…

Age should never be used as an excuse.

Now I admit, I sometimes use age as an excuse.  This is usually when I’m trying to do something that requires an iota of flexibility.  This is when I feel my knees give out.  Then I blame age.  But honestly, I shouldn’t.  I should be doing things to increase my flexibility.  I should be doing things to ease my achy joints.  I have no right to use age as an excuse.

Age should never be an excuse for not learning something.  If you don’t want to learn something, that’s fine- but don’t use age as an excuse.

See, the problem with using age as an excuse is that it can backfire.  If people use age as an excuse to not learn something new, this could lead to ramifications in the workplace.  Like, why should we hire someone of a certain age, because they’re not going to want to learn something new- they’re not going to want to learn that new program.  Not wanting to learn or change because of age sets a bad precedent.  And what age is the right age to not want to learn something new?  80?  65? 57?  40?

Using anything as an excuse is ridiculous.  My friend had an employee say that they couldn’t do something at work because of menopause issues.  Really?  You couldn’t sit at a desk and use a computer because you had menopause issues?  Does that mean that women can’t do work because of menopause?  Bad precedent.

If you don’t want to do something, learn something new, adapt- that’s fine.  But own it.  Say I don’t want to learn how to use the internet because I think it’s a stupid waste of time.  Don’t say I’m too old.  Because you’re not too old.  You just don’t want to.  And that’s a big difference.

Don’t use age as an excuse.  It’s not fair to the rest of us who  want to  get up and get on.

 

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Adapt or Die

We’ve been having something of a cold snap in the northeast.  I honestly don’t know when NYC was last above freezing, temps hovering about 20 degrees, the wind-chill often making it worse.   NYC public schools are actually closed today, because of snow storm that is on the way.  So yes, weather is getting to us.

Last week, Husband went out to walk dog in the morning.  When he came back in I asked the now usual question “How is it out?” /  To which he replied, “Not bad.  No wind.”  I checked the temp.  16 degrees.  Real feel.  16 degrees.  We had gotten to the point where 16 felt good.  Seriously.

Are we stupid?

Well, yeah.

But- we naturally learn to adjust to our surroundings, whatever they may be.  If you don’t adapt, well, you’re not going to do well.  Adapt or die.

Adapting to your environment is an essential skill.  You get a new boss at work that you don’t like.  You have two options:  adapt to the new style of management or quit and get another job.  Both of these require adapting, to changing your outlook, habits and environment.  I mean, you could stay in the same job with a boss you hate and not change anything, but what is going to come out of that?  Are you going to be miserable every day?  Is your work going to suffer? Are you going to get fired?  Will this situation at work negatively effect every aspect of your life?

The only constant is that things change.  Every day brings new and different challenges.  My in laws hate using the internet.  They think it’s a fad and it’s stupid.  Ok fine.   They are entitled to their opinions.  But when they need to buy something like a plane ticket?  They want to just call and find out information.  Now, anyone who has tried to book a plane ticket knows that the best and easiest way to do this is to go online.  But they refuse.  They call up the airline. They sit on hold for hours.  They finally get the information.  They are told that it costs more money to book over the phone.  They hang up and call my Husband and ask him to book the tickets.  Did they adapt?  I guess you could say they did.  But what if my Husband wasn’t around?  The solution can’t always be to get someone else to do your work.  Sometimes the solution is to figure it out and learn a new way.  The solution is to adapt to the new reality.

What if you don’t like the way something is going?  Should you adapt?

Here’s the thing- you should never do something you are not comfortable with.  you should never conform for conformity sake.  But you have to choose your battles wisely.  Is the stand you’re taking really worth the effort.  Is my in-laws refusal to use the internet ridiculous, or is it them being them.  Cause remember, at the end of the day, they still used the internet to buy their tickets, they just didn’t do it themselves.  And they wasted a whole bunch of time, and got needlessly frustrated.

So I guess my convoluted point is this:  Figure out how to best live your life while realizing that things are constantly in flux.  One of my mottos is- It’s nice to visit the past, but you don’t want to move there.  You can’t go back, you can only go forward, and you have to figure out how to make things work for you.  You have to adapt.