Am I well-aged? Let’s see. I’m slower that I used to be, my eyesight is not as acute as in the past, I struggle with keeping weight off, and I cannot physically compete with the vast majority of my younger peers.
If I use the above criteria for fitness for duty, I’m in trouble. Any job in public safety WILL take a toll on your whole person and aging in the process doesn’t help. For example, I struggle more than ever with getting quality sleep. I sleep, wake up for no reason, and I’m tired no matter what time I go to bed. How about this? Have you ever turned over in bed and somehow managed to injure yourself? Yeah, me too. The doctor once told me that I am in good physical shape for my age but that I have a lot of miles on me. Getting old sucks!
But it also opens our eyes to the things that are most important in life.
I’m mostly concerned now with cumulative stress. After three decades of working in public safety, the stress has definitely had an impact on me physically, mentally, and spiritually. I have nagging injuries that effect every facet of my life and an underlying feeling of stress that never seems to go away. I want to be around for as long as possible and I want to be able to have at least a decent quality of life after retirement, yet I completely understand why so many of us die young.
Back when I was younger, I was able to take on more responsibilities, more physical activity, and more curve balls at work. Unfortunately, carrying such a heavy load prevented me from taking the time to intentionally process all of my life-work stressors. Without the proper tools at my disposal, I lacked the ability to relieve my stress in a healthy way.
When I started working my way through the Navigating Adversity program, I was introduced to so many different tools that are meant to help process and relieve stress. Some of them fit seamlessly into my daily routines and worked perfectly for me. Others haven't quite yet, but they're there when my life changes and my schedule opens up (which it's going to do as soon as I retire). What I discovered was quite therapeutic, and it never felt like therapy!
It also confirmed what I was doing right all along. My entire career, I have kept up with my gym routine which helped keep my body fit and flexible enough to ward off serious injury and illness.
I’m in a better place with my spirituality and, for the first time in a long time I’m actually ok with who I am at work and at home. I cannot over emphasize how important it’s been to be able to be ok with where I'm at in life. I can now see that my career is coming to an end and I’m ok with that. I have come to understand how important it is to be grateful for what I have and, equally important, what I don’t have (or want) in my life.
So, if you’re on the second half of your life and career, and you’re wondering just how well you’ve aged in the job, be encouraged. If this not-so-talented, not so strong, not so smart guy is nearing the marathon finish in one piece, you can do it too. Slow down long enough to acknowledge what you’ve done well, give yourself the grace to heal from the things that still cause you pain, and be thankful for the opportunities you still have to make a difference.
Everyday is fresh with no mistakes in it. Yet. :)
Apply the wisdom you’ve earned in your career, and you’ll be better for it. It’s never too late to age well in the job, so start today!