“How old are you?” is a simple question we’ve all dealt with many times before. The default answer to the question is typically a number that speeds along from year to year.
But we humans are far more than just a number. We are complex psychological creatures swept along by erratic lifestyles in imperfect bodies.
The more interesting answer to the question is “It depends on which age you’re talking about”.
You see we are all have a constellation of five ages that are each shifting over time. Each age provides a different perspective on life and have profound implications for businesses.
This is the number of years old we are. It is the default that we get stuck on, but it is actually the least important age we have. There are certain milestones of importance such as being legally able to drive a car, have sex, or get National Super. But apart from that there is not much consequence, except for the psychological jolt of the front number changing or filling out a survey and discovering that you’re now in an older bracket. It is linear and we have no influence over it other than our (dis)honesty.
Our physiological age is how healthy our body is and the degree to which it keeps us alive and functioning. We can influence physiological age to a degree with healthy lifestyle, diet and fitness. There countless brands and products that promise to improve our health and wellbeing. However, the unfortunate flipside of physiological age is that a big part of it is genetic. Without the ability to choose our parents, some are blessed to be able to run marathons at 80 while others are plagued with ill-health from their infancy.
This is the age that other people see us at. It is unfortunately outside our control because it is held in the eyes of others. There are massive industries from fashion, to cosmetic surgery that claim to make us look younger, or older, depending on what we’re trying to say about ourselves. Social age can be very cruel in that sometimes our best (and very expensive) efforts can backfire to make us look “like mutton dressed as lamb” as the saying goes.
Whether it is the influence of religion, or mindfulness, or some otherworldy phenomenon, some people are old souls with wisdom beyond their years. This is a very fertile era for enriching our spirituality with the rise of mindfulness as a trend in everything from foods, to teas, to self-awareness courses, to yoga, to scented candles.
Our Personal Age is in ways the most important. It is all about our sense of self and our vitality; the age we feel. It is non-linear and we are in control. It is the 40 year old spirit inside the 80 year old body. Or the teenager in a hurry to grow up.
At an individual level each of these ages is constantly shifting; creating tensions between how we feel within ourselves and about ourselves. We might feel vibrant and on top of life but let down by what the mirror is telling us, or the annoying aches and pains that slow us down. These inconsistencies drive what we think we need to make us happier, healthier and more attractive to others.
For businesses, this five-age concept is profound in terms of defining what you are offering to whom. Are you targeting 35-50 year -old women? Or are you targeting women who are self-conscious of how they look to others and want a reliable solution that makes them look and feel 10 years younger?
Are you targeting older people needing protective care as they age physiologically or are you offering vitality so they can feel more alive and spritely in your Retirement Village.
Next time you look at your brand, or indeed yourself in the mirror, consider the question: “what picture do all your ages paint?”