Baby Boomers have been referred to as the “sandwich generation”. This designation describes being simultaneously caught between the needs of our parents, the needs of our children, and our own needs. As the generation of “medium age”, we are often the “glue” which holds the family “bread” together. This is a difficult, but not hopeless task. Baby Boomers have long been in the position of solving “cutting edge” problems but the world is changing rapidly. To stay on top of things, we need every bit of knowledge and insight we can get to keep up with this changing society and to keep our little “family sandwiches” together. Here are a few more thoughts on the matter.
The bottom line: Survival is everything! Life is a process of elimination. As with the game of musical chairs, the main goal in life is survival. Since most people want to stay in the game as long as possible, survival depends upon our ability to effectively deal with obstacles that come our way. In most cases, we can’t rely on solutions used by previous generations, so we must remain open-minded and remember that personal growth is a lifelong process.
Recognize and get comfortable with the Information Age. We live in a time when society provides us with an ever-growing supply of information, technology and medicines to help us solve our problems. Especially when sandwiched between our parents and our children, we are called upon to help solve a wide variety of problems. If you’re going to be helpful, it is wise to stay in “good shape” as a problem-solver and communicator. I recommend trying to keep up with the changes in the world by learning something new every day.
Living longer changes everything. Through hard work and incredible developments, we have managed to increase the lifespan of human beings. While that’s the good news, it also changes the mathematics of our projected time on the planet. Anticipating a longer life, many people now marry later, many couples start having families at older ages, adults of all ages return to school for further education, and we tend to change jobs more than people did in the past. Living longer also gives rise to more multiple experiences. For example, it is not uncommon for people to have multiple marriages over the course of their lifetime due to divorce or death of a spouse, children of divorced parents frequently live in multiple homes, and workers often change their careers. Life is unpredictable. Be prepared for anything.
Always have a back-up career. At different ages and stages of our lives, we have different strengths, skills, interests and physical capabilities. With the expectation of a longer life, it is wise to develop a variety of job skills and interests. Instead of limiting yourself to certain skills and a single career, you may want to think in terms of multiple careers during your lifetime.
The old expression, “work smarter, not harder” is a useful motto for aging Baby Boomers. When companies “down-size and right-size”, workers often find themselves out of a job with no advanced notice. This reality cautions us to diversify our abilities, avoid depending upon a single source of income, and develop a method for coping with career change ahead of time. Research on retirement has long suggested the value of avocational interests and finding ways to structure free time. Pursuing hobbies, interests and other talents helps reduce stress and frequently provides a segway into a career of its own. When it comes to survival, additional knowledge and training make us more valuable in the job market, and more capable of self-employment.
©Copyright, 2002, Jane R. Rosen-Grandon. All rights reserved.
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