Deal with real problems at work - do you feel old?

By: Georgina Harris

Date: 16 March 2011

MoccasinsGeorgina Harris explains how to cope (in nice big type)

There comes a time in every working life when the creeping realisation dawns that you are no longer the newbie flush with promise, the gilded youth sparkling at clients, or the one with the worst hangover, and you know in your soul that you are Not That Young Any More. Makes those bones ache a bit, eh?

As much a rite of passage as passing exams or filling in start-up forms, your new state is characterised by being nameless - ‘middle-aged’ cannot yet be used as that is your parents, surely - and a subterranean, fervent urge for action.

Which is where the trouble starts. A mid-life crisis at work these days is more shaming than announcing I Used to Be a Woman in the Gents’. We’ve all seen it - the wincing car crash of the exec with three kids who picks the two-seater Clarkson likes, the accountant who lives the 80s - again - with leather pelmets that stick her to the swivel chair, ponytail flailing as everyone leaves the meeting. The ipad you accidentally call a Walkman. That “interesting” tie. Jaunty shoes. Like, you could lose all your colleagues’ respect? Your clients will soooo laugh. Or be kind, meh.

Time to sort things out. I am thrilled to announce that, unlike most of your daily problems, the solution to this issue is Do Absolutely Nothing. But, if you want to get away with this idleness, you must, silently, Thank The Law. Consider this:

  1. Brown shoesDave Cameron is your bruv, guy. From 6 April 2011, employers will no longer be able to retire anyone using the Default Retirement Age (DRA). This means they can’t sack you for wearing coloured deck shoes on Fridays any more.
  2. Well, until you go senile or terrify Kylie the Work Experience when you climb a ladder. However, the national debt is so unimaginably, cosmically vast that we will all be working till we are 100 anyway. Thank Dr Brian Cox, sorry, Mr Fred Goodwin, for this, not fresh-faced Cleggeron. (Young people don’t know much anyway.)
  3. Where you see peculiar hair growth in the mirror, other people see experience and skills. Your clients are paying for this – they honestly like it. You can charge for those wrinkles - do so. Remember that people aged 50-64 have spent on average 13.7 years in their current job, which is impressive. (Possibly more impressively, brow threading is now acceptable for both sexes and available inexpensively nationwide.)
  4. No one expects you to be, or look, young. Self-employment, for instance, is more common amongst those aged 50-64 compared to younger workers - 18 per cent of workers in this age bracket are self employed compared to a scanty four per cent of the 16-24 year olds.
  5. Leather moccasinsWhile crimes against fashion aren’t illegal, being rude about coffin-dodgers at work is. Anyone over 35 - or with a keen interest in 80s music - can rest assured that they are protected by law from sartorial slights, and more to the point, protected as part of an increasingly huge majority. Although the media does nothing but feature those of poreless skin, the UK isn’t a young country; more over 50s are in work than people aged 16-24. Get in! Parade those coloured shoes with pride.  

Georgina Harris, Law Donut editor (and wearer of a nice comfy cardi)

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