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Overcoming Fear of Technology

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Bottom Line/Personal: One of the biggest challenges, I think, for what I’ll call “oldsters” – like me. Oldsters like me.

Nancy Collamer: Like us.

Bottom Line: Like us, right? Oldsters like us, when they’re looking at career change, is that they might have been in a career that didn’t require heavy technology use. And suddenly, everything that they’re looking at requires technology know-how. So how do they overcome the fear of that technology?

Collamer: Great question and this is something that I see a lot when I go around and speak about my book. People are really nervous about learning all these new technologies out there. You know, Sarah, I think part of that is due to the fact that when you and I were in high school and we learned “technology,” it was things like base 10 and punch cards.

Bottom Line: Needed a good rubber band on those punch cards, and don’t trip as you go up the library steps.

Collamer: Absolutely. And I was terrible at it. It was scary. So if that’s your reference point, that’s what learning technology means, it seems like a pretty high hurdle that you have to get over. In reality, of course, a lot of technology these days is plug-and-play. I mean, it’s really child’s play.

As an example, I have an electronic newsletter. When I go to put that together, I’m not doing any coding. I simply pull up a template; I type in my information – as long as I can type; I then hit send; a computer program handles all the backend of it. Same thing when I use Twitter or Facebook. I don’t mean to minimize the fear, but the reality is that so many of the tools out there are really very, very simple to use.

In order to get over the fear, it requires a couple of things. One is just getting exposed to some of these new technologies. If Twitter scares the living daylights out of you, don’t go onto Twitter and start tweeting; just be a lurker for a while. Watch what other people are doing.

And then, in order to learn some of the technical skills that you may need for some other jobs, there’re so many training options out there these days. You can go to community college, continuing education programs, online classes. There are all sorts of online courses that you could take. Even YouTube these days has videos that you can watch to learn new technical skills.

Bottom Line: The other thing is – it’s really interesting to that point – you don’t have to be a master of it. Us perfectionists worry that, “If I’m not a master of whatever the program is, then I can’t do it or I can’t interview about it or I can’t talk about it.” But there are a lot of people who don’t know technology all that well. So you just have to be able to, in some places, know the basics and understand the basics.

Collamer: That’s right.

Bottom Line: And learn as you go.

Collamer: And understand you don’t have to learn it all at once.

Bottom Line: Exactly.

Collamer: Approach it one technology at a time, and if all else fails, call your kids.

Bottom Line: I was just going to say, I think that’s a really neat thing – especially anyone that’s a grandparent, or even parents where you’ve got teens and they don’t talk to you anymore – it’s a great opportunity to connect.

Collamer: It is.

Bottom Line: There’s nothing that kids like better than being able to show the grownups how smart they are, right? And I’ve watched my in-laws, my parents – the grandkids teach them. And it’s such a great connection between them. It’s a great opportunity.

Collamer: Yeah. Bottom line is don’t be scared by it.

Bottom Line: All right. No fear. Thank you, Nancy Collamer.

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Nancy Collamer, a career counselor, speaker, and author of Second-Act Careers: 50+ Ways to Profit from Your Passions During Semi-Retirement. She also writes a semi-monthly career column for NextAvenue.com (PBS) and Forbes.com. MyLifestyleCareer.com

Date: January 30, 2015 Publication: Bottom Line Personal