A lovely young woman came to my office yesterday to tutor me in the use of a software I had installed on my computer 8 months ago. For whatever reason, installing the software was harder than it should have been and took more time than I expected. So, once installation was complete, I pushed actually using it to the bottom of my to-do list.
My thoughts ran along these lines — it was too hard to install, so it must be too hard to use; it took so much time and I didn’t want to spend that amount of time again trying to figure out how to use it; technology, especially software that is supposed to be “user friendly” is too mysterious, there’s so much I don’t know, I’m not sure I can learn this, etc.
A friend recommended I call the young woman and ask her to help me. After 8 months of avoiding it, I finally made the call. Lo and behold, she sat at my computer and made about 6 clicks with the mouse and voila! I was in business. In a similarly short period, she explained the basics of what I needed to know to navigate and become functional within the software. I asked more questions. Rather than answer by demonstration, she guided me through keystrokes and mouse clicks so I would know exactly how to find my way.
The girl makes her living teaching others how to function online, on their computers, how to use various softwares, and how to make the various softwares talk to each other. I’m glad she’s good at her job. I wouldn’t want it.
I explain this brief encounter because my thoughts and feelings about technology and communications software are steeped in fear of the unknown, feelings of insufficiency, lack of fluency, mystery, and frankly feeling overwhelmed by the sheer volume of what I don’t know, but think I should. Isn’t that how a lot of people feel about life stages and transitions? Don’t we all feel like we should know and understand a lot more than we do?
Recently, I heard a catchphrase that has stayed with me. “When you turn 50, you have half your life in front of you.” People are living longer, remaining active, continuing to work long past any sort of traditional retirement age of 55, 62, or 65. Even if they leave their career job, the tendency has become to find or create new and hopefully more interesting ways to spend their time.
My wish is to help people figure out how to approach this next stage of life. Let’s talk about goals, dreams, and hobbies. Let’s make a plan for your mid-life. By the time we’re done making your plan, we will have tamed those feelings of fear, strange mystery and that sense of feeling overwhelmed.