I had an interesting conversation with my dad the other day – he is in his 80’s now. But when I asked him how old he felt inside he said, “I am not sure … about 30 maybe”.
So I started to ask a whole pile of other people of all ages how old they felt inside. Most felt somewhere between 20 and 30, no matter how many birthday candles were on their cake. Me … I feel about 26 inside, even though my outside tells a different story.
Inside – we believe we are young and ageless. Yes, we can go through the motions of celebrating milestone birthdays, but somewhere our psyche says we are young and evergreen, and that those birthdays are happening to other people.
Cognitive dissonance is where your mind tries to hold two conflicting ideas simultaneously: In this case “I am getting older” and “I feel young”. Our mind tries to find a workaround and can mentally deny our age unless significant evidence happens to the contrary. Which is why people trying to sell stuff to “old folks” doesn’t always cut it, and people trying to manage us differently because of our age are ignored. You see, we don’t believe they are talking to us – they are talking to the old people, not us.
So, if you are in sales, HR or marketing, remember that inside the skin of most people is a person who is young, enthusiastic, vibrant and full of dreams. Ignore that young person at your peril!
Try it yourself … How old do you feel inside?