As 40-year-old table tennis star Sharath Kamal eyes the 2024 Paris Olympics, motivational coaches decode how age is no bar to achieve greater heights in your career
Sharath Kamal focuses on mental and physical fitness as part of his preparation for 2024 Paris Olympics. Pic courtesy/Getty Images
At 40, table tennis veteran Sharath Kamal is training his sights on the 2024 Paris Olympics, smashing the myth that age can hold one back. After winning four medals at the recently concluded Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, Kamal shares that he tries to keep his mind and body fit to keep up with younger players. But what else do veterans need to fuel their drive beyond a certain age, irrespective of the field? Two experts share a roadmap.
Priya Kumar, a motivational speaker and an author, maintains that people set their own age to retire, and that following a yardstick isn’t necessary. “One mentally retires before actually retiring,” she shares. If professionals wish to continue building their career after succeeding in a field, Kumar points two things to keep in mind — one must be able, and relevant. The author places emphasis on looking after oneself — physically and mentally — to continue building a career and to compete with younger entrants in the field.
Secondly, Kumar states the importance of staying up-to-date in the profession. “This is a sign of growth. Every five years, take a check on where you’re at, how the world has progressed and where you need to catch up,” says Kumar. She adds that professionals must plan their career path and prepare continuously for their goals. The author also suggests that veterans should take on the role of a mentor to guide others with their expertise, as a way of extending their longevity.
Akash Gautam, a motivational speaker and a corporate trainer, believes that different careers will require different areas of focus and development. But a common requirement in pushing yourself as a veteran is self-discipline. “Success brings comfort. So don’t let your comfort zone or complacency kill your career, mind and body,” he reminds us. The reasons for one’s success — aptitude, talent and ability — will remain the same whether one is in their 20s or 40s, he reckons.
Work smartly and use your resources well. Hire professionals to manage the peripheral areas of work so that you can focus on what is crucial to further your career, Gautam says. This can include hiring dietitians and physical trainers to stay in shape, counsellors to help you understand your vision, or finance professionals to manage money. “Don’t try to do everything by yourself, work smartly,” the corporate trainer suggests.
Inspired by the rhythm of life
When we ask Merlin D’Souza, music composer, producer, director, and pianist with Music Mode and BrandMusiq, what fuels her drive, she replies: “I’ll answer in one word — life.” In between juggling performances and rehearsals, the pianist tells us, “We’re given one life to use our talents to make it special and make it count.” The musician lives by her own motto — which she calls Merlin-ism. “My Merlin-ism is that I’m happy I don’t know everything. Because if I did, I’d stop learning. Even on the wrong side of 50, I can still learn from my peers. I can learn a new scale and keep growing.” There’s no stopping this pianist; one evening, she’s directing a performance with The Orchestra of the Armed Forces and other musicians for Independence Day at the NCPA, the next evening, she’s gracing another audience with her music. D’Souza notes that while musicians are blessed with extra adrenaline to keep performing, a balance is also necessary and it’s important to take time off to rest, recuperate, and
be creative in other fields as well.