Pop culture has hammered the health benefits of solid relationships. That goes way back to the Beatles' tune "Eleanor Rigby."
Yet, too many of the over-50 I coach come to me because they don't have a close friend to sort things out with. Had they, they might not need to set up a formal relationship with a coach like myself after a career setback or unexpected success. Maria Paul even published a book titled "The Friendship Crisis: Finding, Making and Keeping Friends When You're Not a Kid Anymore."
In MarketWatch, Gary M. Stern looks at what I call The New Loneliness. His article is filled with expert advice on everything from how to maintain a long-term friendship to when to let it go. Other articles have covered the nuts and bolts of starting over on developing a close relationship later in life.
Of course, given the volatility of the 21st century, generalizations seem cartoonish. But there are common threads in our little lives after-50.
One is that ageism, that is the bias against seasoned highly-paid workers, pushes us to focus more and more on landing, holding, and moving on to better work. Simultaneously, no matter how much time we spend at the gym, the energy level is lower.
Our families or the significant other are just about all we can keep going, in terms of personal intimacy. Also, betrayals have made us more guarded. In addition, we change. The world changes. What we find relaxing changes.
But, it is possible to keep the old friendships going and to add new ones. That is the rite of passage of The New Aging. There seems to be the aura of what is best about closeness with non-family members and it hovers over our consciousness. That analogy is the dream going to college was when we were struggling amid the regimentation of high school, still living at home.
So, what are the friendship maintenance or new development musts? Essentially they come down to sending the signal that we are accessible. The mindfulness crowd calls that "Being Fully Present." Of course, we have to limit that to only a few. It consumes energy.
One 60-year-old lawyer I coached made her New Year's resolution to nurture one friendship from back in her law school days and to experiment with new ones at the gym. For that she had to slow down. That to-do list panned out. Currently, she contacts them with professional problems, not me.
In a sense, the best coaching helps professionals create their own resources for sorting out what goes down in earning a living. Ideally, we could all be our own coach, if we have a close friend in the loop.
Contact Jane Genova for an appointment firstname.lastname@example.org.