Highway 51 is the old US highway going from South to North. With a bit of imagination, it’s kind of metaphorical for reaching the age of 51 and contemplating over your career. Highway 51 goes North, but at the same time it goes South. The glass is half-full or half-empty, right? Starting from Laplace (a small town near New Orleans) it takes a seemingly straight line to the North. In reality it is zigzagging its way through the US, interrupted by horizontal stretches from East to West. The highway crosses one of the most hurricane hit zones, it climbs mountains, spans rivers and lakes, disappears in cities, merges with other highways to reappear hundreds of miles further, taking again a different direction. In many ways it embodies our lives and our careers.
So, you find yourself in Laplace. The Place. You are 51 or older. You’re building a career. You shiver when you see a book titled “iPad for Seniors. A guide specially written for those above 50”. You get a bit wound-up: “don’t those editors realise that most of the current technology has actually been invented by the 50+ club?” Now you start to wonder about the future. Maybe you joined redundancies through a right-sizing, maybe you’re bored after spending 25 years at the same company. A new challenge or a new job. Out of necessity because bills need to be paid. Or out of curiosity whether or not you can start your own business from that wonderful idea you’ve been breeding on for years.
Especially in Europe, governments are struggling to balance the graying population with the greener population. Up till now, the easy solution has been to increase consequently the official retirement age. In the hope that people will drop dead before they can enjoy their last decades in this world. But people are adapting very quickly. It’s in our human nature to survive. As humans we are in the offense against this injustice … we decided collectively to live longer.
The true challenge is to make work attractive and fun for the 51plus. The tax system has to be redesigned in support of allowing and encouraging 51 plussers to share their experience, invest their knowledge (and some money), activate their network and actively mentor the next generation of entrepreneurs.
Now here is a bold statement: that next generation of entrepreneurs are the 51 plus.
Actually, the 51 plus should unite to bundle their strengths in support of their coming 15 years (or so) of service.
Maybe it is time to start www.high51.net