Many young adults setting out to work in today's high tech world and changing economy are concerned about being rootless in a time when nothing lasts forever and work is now a very transitory thing. They have questions about what's essential. Do they need success strategies or job search suggestions? In a thought-provoking essay on Aeon Magazine Karl Pillemer, a professor of gerontology writes about youth who are most interested in finding a purpose in life. He has discovered the benefits of talking to elders about their lives and choices in the quest of not a purpose but purposes.
Marjorie Wilcox, aged 87, warns about the dangers of locking oneself into a single purpose:
"You will do several different things. Do not be on one train track because the train will change. Widen your mind. . . . Make sure you keep flexible. Lead with your strengths, and they will get you where you want to go."
Her advice is for young adults is to pursue many purposes and let them guide you through life's changes.
A second bit of wisdom is from elders is to interview our future selves. This is a rigorous challenge and so Pillemer presents another option: "Interview an older person who embodies the 'self' you would like to be." If you are envisioning a career in education, interview a teacher who has been passionate and creative in his or her work for many years. Thinking about becoming a consultant in your 60s or 70s? Talk to someone who has trod this path before you and found it fulfilling and meaningful. Talk to the aged, and you will be rewarded with insights beyond your ken. In addition, those who have lived a long life will enjoy the role of maven which Pillemer defines as "trusted experts, reliable sources of accumulated wisdom."
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