GRAND Magazine - November/December 2018 - 38

grand living

The relevance of staying relevant
BY BOB AND JUDITH WRIGHT

O

ne of the big questions many of us face in
our GRAND years is, "How do I stay relevant
as I get older?"
We ponder this deeply as we watch our grandkids
scroll through their phones, as we stumble through
strained relationships with our adult children, or even
as we consider cutting back to half-time in our careers.
We sometimes feel like the world is moving faster
and faster away from us - out of our grasp. So how do
we continue to feel relevant and interconnected in our
world as we get older?

Shifting our focus from
career to connection

Many of us have built strong identities and developed
confidence through our work. We know our careers
bring us a relevant way to contribute to the world
around us-offering us social connections, intellectual
stimulation, and opportunities for personal growth. If
our career was homemaker and raising the kids, then
the shift is forced on us. It becomes intimidating to even consider
retiring or scaling back in our work life. Yet, we may feel our relevance at our job is diminishing, especially as technology evolves.
We live in a culture where youth is highly-valued, and age and
experience are less attractive career qualifications.
In truth, however, the ability to stay relevant, growth-minded,
and to continue to evolve is well within our grasp, both at work
and in our interpersonal relationships. Age is truly just a number
and it's never too late to grow into your next most relevant, most
radiant self.
Recently, we met with a client in his early 70s. He was toying
38 GRAND

NOVEMBER DECEMBER 2018

"

"The secret to relevance -
whether we're retired, still
working, or even if we've never
had a traditional career - is to
focus on our growth and on
developing more meaningful
connections with others."

with the idea of retiring, but like many older adults, he was nervous about what he was going to do if he actually retired or even
cut his work back to half-time.
We discussed that no matter which career path he chose, it
was important to focus on learning, growing, and building the
social connections in his life. This included his relationships with
his children and grandchildren. The secret to relevance - whether
we're retired, still working, or even if we've never had a traditional career - is to focus on our growth and on developing more
meaningful connections with others.
In our next session, he reported that he really connected with

"

two of his grandchildren. One was a brilliant, but socially
awkward 10-year-old with a passion for history and
analysis. The other was a mentally and emotionally challenged 20-year-old cancer survivor. In both cases, these
grandkids were easier to relate to than his other grandchildren because they clearly needed him to embrace a
distinct role as "helper."
In fact, this is all too common with many grandparents. We relate to our grandkids as the coach, support,
or even the financier, but we fail to relate to them and build connections outside that role. For our kids and grandkids who don't
require as much assistance, the balance of staying relevant and
building relationships is even trickier.
As grandparents, we hold an iconic place where we're symbolically important. We stand in a privileged position as the nurturing and caring person free of traditional parenting duties and
responsibilities. However, once again, with this freedom comes
the threat of potential irrelevance, especially as kids become
adults living their own lives.

Continued on next page


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GRAND Magazine - November/December 2018

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of GRAND Magazine - November/December 2018

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