This morning, my phone was acting up. With utter horror, I realized that I probably need a new one. A new phone means huge change: reloading apps, figuring out a new system, understanding how to actually make a freaking call. Ugh, I’m getting old.
That’s when I asked myself, “What does it mean to be relevant in 2019?”
Relevancy is often a topic of discussion these days. When we need a fifth grader to help us navigate our computer and every story out of our mouth starts with, “back in the day,” relevancy is definitely something worth understanding.
So, I looked up the word relevant in Webster’s:
Having significant and demonstrable bearing on the matter at hand.
Affording evidence tending to prove or disprove the matter at issue or under discussion.
Huh? Not helpful. Don’t say it — I know I should have used Google.
It was about four to five years ago when I first started feeling the relevancy shift. It seemed I’d gone from the youngest person in the room to one of the oldest. In fact, I was recently in a meeting where the topic of the royal wedding between Charles and Diana came up, and most people hadn’t watched it. Why? They weren’t born yet!
What I’m coming to understand is that relevancy is completely up to you. It is based on how much work you want to put into it, how important it is to you, and what you want to achieve.
I’ll share my example. I initially decided to bow down to my age and be irrelevant. I felt somewhat worthless and as though I had little left to offer. I found myself leaning into phrases like, “I remember when … ” and, “Someday you’ll understand,” and, “It wasn’t like that back in the day … ” Then, it was the ever popular, “if I could only do it over.” Wow, I’m depressed just writing these! Here’s the wild part. Although I’d resigned to being irrelevant because of my age, I also started seeing it as a right of passage. A sign of strength. A badge of honor, perhaps. Hey, I earned every single wrinkle!
So, did I want to be old or did I want to be relevant?
The answer was simple: YES!
Over 50 years of life and three decades in a career gave me something I’d been looking for all my life. I finally had real-life, honest-to-God, “street cred.”
I had it! I earned it! And I loved it! I had experience and stories that offered value. And I was ready to share.
I was the same person. Same age. Same situation. Different lens.
So, get a new phone. Take a little extra time getting out of bed in the morning. Slather on the wrinkle cream. And be relevant.