The thing that terrifies me about the technology industry as a whole is that it plays favorites to the young, yet it's the only field I've ever truly been passionate about. I'm approaching 40 and have reached the executive level, which is great...yay. However, will I still be working in tech when I'm 70? I want to, but will companies let me? I doubt it.
It bothers me to think that the only way I'll be able to continue to work in the field I love dearly is to go my own way and start my own company. Hey, that's what I want to do anyway, but it'd be nice if that were simply an option rather than a requirement (and, even nicer if it odds were in favor of it happening successfully).
Best of luck to all of you aging techies who are in my boat (or further along). This industry is a harsh mistress.
To me this means always being at the value creating edge - whether this is in creating companies and products, or being indispensable to those who are. How you do that is the challenge - could be capital, could be contacts, could be experience or just a proven track record of having some clarity in the dim view that is the future.
You seem to realise that relying on a career and job security might be risky. That's probably true. The only way to mitigate that particular risk is to start spreading the risk around into other areas - like starting a company now. That's not a prescription to dump all and start again, but looking at your current career trajectory with a critical eye is certainly a good idea.
I'll be 40 this year and cofounded a software company a few years ago. We just hired our first developer and he's in his mid fifties. I've worked with him for years and I have no doubts that he'll be a great developer for as long as he chooses to work.
As far as I'm concerned, being open to hiring older technical workers is not only the moral - and legal - thing to do, it is also a competitive advantage. Wisdom is valuable in a small software company.
My father left last year (though not so unexpectedly). It changes one.
The true ideal in my mind is semi-retirement. Work less, less often, and if you don't feel like working simply don't. Adjust your schedule so it is absolutely to your liking - show up at 10 AM leave at 3 PM, etc. Peoples careers should degrade gracefully, not come to a crashing halt like we've come to embrace in our society
Your post just knocked me on my keyster. Beautiful writing. It is absolutely relevant to hackers because all of us have parents, and we need to look at how they've lived their lives and figure out how we will live as we age. The prospect of retirement is terrifying; I expect that the concept as we know it is dead; we have to come up with another model that befits the time.
Is there anything in particular that pushed you over the edge beyond fluent?
Jorge Luis Borges once said "let others brag about the pages they have written; I'm proud of those I've read." What I believe he meant (and I agree) is that a person's writing is a reflection of what they have read. I've read many more books in English than in any other language (including Spanish).
Retirement is not going to be an option for many future generations. The cost of living is getting too high, while salaries for many industries are falling too low.
This gut feeling first appeared in me when I saw GM renegotiate pension plans with its retirees. If even defined benefit pensions can be renegotiated, what is the actual rate of return on those suckers? Is it enough for anything? And it's not like I trust mutual funds, housing, or anything else to be much better anymore.
So I come to the conclusion that lifelong work will become a necessity for most. Retirement will be a luxury.
I think this is a fallacy. My dad became an entrepreneur in his early forties and many other much later. It is not really a matter of age anymore in modern societies. It is about how sharp you keep yourself as you age.
Probably if you are a startup kind of person (as opposed to sustaining a company kind of person), you would be starting companies even in your nineties. It is never too late. It is just how old you feel.
And that is what retirement is about for most people. Not you complaining that tech companies won't hire you. But you've been doing this too long and your back is shot.
The workaholic is a special type of person.
Edit: to add, I do understand how it's important for people
to feel useful, and I agree it's a good idea to stay active after retirement.
And I need to call my Dad.