For a lot of older people work is not what they imagined it would be when they were in their twenties or thirties. Jobs for life have disappeared along with many of the positions they might have expected to fill. Yet there is a huge amount older people bring to the workplace precisely because they are older than many of their colleagues.
The challenge, if you are seeking work in your fifties or sixties, is to make people look past the myths about older people to see what you offer as an individual. You might be applying for a new job or want to contribute more in your current position. A good place to start is to think about the wide range of experience you bring.
Think about the knowledge and skills you have gathered over the years and the wisdom you bring by virtue of your age. It's likely that you have a wealth of life experience as well as skills in areas such as planning and solving problems. You are also likely to have solid work habits, which should make you highly reliable and attractive to employers.
And you're probably a lot more flexible than stereotypes about older people suggest. By the time you're in your fifties you've responded and adapted to a lot of things in life. What's more the way you see things and think about things could bring a richness and diversity to a team made up of younger people.
If you are looking to contribute more in your current organisation try imagining what it would be like if you were able to free your potential. What things could you take on in your current role? Could you become a mentor to less experienced people in the organisation? Or is there another job that would give you more scope?
If you are older than many of your colleagues it's likely you're already used as a sounding board. So ask yourself how that role could be formalised. How could you negotiate a way of offering your experience to others that meets your needs and is attractive to the organisation?
For some people there is another challenge -- how to stay motivated in their work roles when they would rather be doing other things. Whether you are financing your children's education or providing for your old age you might have opted to work another few years when you would really like to retire.
If you're in this position it's important that you try to meet some of your personal needs by being at work, beyond just collecting your salary. For instance, what things are you really passionate about? How might you incorporate some of these things into your work role?
It might help to talk to a career counsellor about how you could communicate the energy and passion you have for certain things to your employer, and how you could best present the advantages you bring as a mature and experienced person.
Other people may find that having been in management jobs and other positions of responsibility for many years, they no longer seem to be considered for these roles. If you're in this position it's important to think about why you are working. Money is probably one reason but it's also likely that you feel energised about parts of your work, and enjoy the stimulation and companionship that work brings.
Try asking yourself what matters to you most -- a job title, your status within an organisation or being able to use your skills and experience to make a valuable contribution? It might be that you can meet your personal needs better by working in different ways, for instance on a series of projects, rather than in a management role.