In recent months, several friends of mine who were born during the great Baby Boom of the late 1940’s and 1950’s have begun talking about their current stage of life. Some describe themselves as “not ready to retire” in the traditional sense, but also, not feeling challenged by the same old things. Now in their late 50’s and early 60’s, some are surprised to be alive and some are surprised that they feel young and healthy. Looking forward to the next 20 years seems to be a surprise that many did not expect. Here are a few more thoughts on the matter.
Developmentally speaking, early adulthood offers structure. After high school and college, most young adults in their 20’s and 30’s focus on the tasks of finding a life partner, finding suitable work, and starting a family. Fortunately, this is also a time when we have a lot of physical energy to accomplish these tasks. Once the ball starts rolling, life gets busier and busier with each successful step forward.
Middle adulthood offers the challenge of perseverance. Many people in their 40’s and 50’s are pushing hard to succeed at work, while balancing the demands of parenting and marriage. At a time when incomes are peaking, parents anticipate sending their children to college with mixed emotions about having an empty nest. At any given moment, family members may be moving in a hundred different directions with little, if any, time to relax.
Later adulthood brings the focus back to our family of origin. In our late 50’s and 60’s, those who are lucky enough to have living parents are often called to re-engage with our parents and siblings on a whole new level. We may begin the process of “parenting our parents” or reconnecting with siblings after years of separation. Simultaneously, we may become grandparents. And in spite of our need to work for financial reasons, our desire to work hard may begin to wane.
So what do you want to do for the rest of your life? Baby-boomer couples have a giant opportunity to reorganize their priorities and renew their relationship. Retired spouses can be a great source of support for working spouses. Couples can renew their sexual relationship, plan their future, and reclaim their passion for one another. This may be the time of life that you’ve been dreaming about. If you’ve been working hard for a long time, here’s your chance to play more.
Our society has made a lot of progress in the areas of living healthfully. Most of us exercise whether we want to or not; fewer of us smoke whether we want to or not; and most are eating healthier whether we’re happy about that or not. Maybe it’s time to stop dreading the golden years and rethink how it might feel to be less obsessed with work and more focused on finding fun.
©Copyright, 2012, Jane R. Rosen-Grandon. All rights reserved.
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