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What’s Next on Boomers’ To-Do Lists? Time to Think About Our Succession Plans

March 18, 2010

Updated May 24, 2011

I admit to being a task-oriented type of guy, despite being known for generating ideas and preferring the big-picture over details. And as a mid-fifties Boomer, I’ve been down the proverbial “Been-there, done (most of) that” routines. Let’s take a look, and if you’re a Boomer compare notes.

Caution: If you’re a Gen-Xer (30 to 44) and you’ve done all the below, then you’re a Boomer-Wannabee.

• Wanted children? Yep, had four (now between 20 and 30). None of that 1.9 kids per family unit for this guy

• Grand kids? Check, have two (for now)

• Built a successful career? Did okay on that front

• Did the obligatory graduate studies? Earned two masters while helping to raise kids

• Went fitness crazy? Yeah, for a long-time, but have come to my senses, where health is more important. Proud of my love handles

• 40th birthday (stage one mid-life) crisis? Oh yeah! Went nuts with outdoor recreation, from whitewater canoeing to off-trail mountain biking to camping.

• 50th birthday (stage two mid-life crisis)? Of course, but got smart this time and embraced my childhood passion of playing the piano. Now own two. Still mountain bike, but just more sedately. Camping? No more of that sleeping on the ground; I like my back

• Downsizing/re-orged to death? Yes, but fortunately didn’t suffer as much others who were dealt with brutally. But got fed up with being told to bend over (you know the rest)

• Went consumer-spending crazy? Nope on that one, but not completely innocent either. Too busy supporting a family of six on one salary for many years

• Love being an empty-nester? Just about to enter that world. Looks pretty enticing

• Feeling really sandwiched? You bet–between our kids and a 90 year-old mom

• Feeling ready for a career change? Oh yeah. Started the process

• Want a simpler life? Pleeeaaase yes! Essential to not just a post-corporate career but also to practicing more stewardship in helping care for our planet

• Anything I’m missing? Add your comments

SORRY BOOMERS, BUT I HAVE BAD NEWS: WE WON’T LIVE FOREEVER!

Last year, I experienced the ugly side of having an aging parent spend 18 days in a hospital that was at 108% capacity. It was not a pretty site. But it’s probably a better situation than what we Boomers will face in the years ahead.

As we Boomers begin to exit from the labor force in increasing numbers over the next 10 to 15 years, it will provide much-needed opportunities for Gen Y to secure employment. This generation has had (to be blunt) the crap battered out of it during the past two years. Last-in, first-out, as the saying goes in organizations.

Gen X, which has had to endure living in the Boomers’ omnipresent shadow, is actually fortunate since they will succeed the exodus of managerial Boomers. Their situation may possibly reflect the labor market my dad faced post World War II, during which a pulse was all you needed to find a job.

For us Boomers, our next task is to create a new task-list of what we want to accomplish during our silver years. Here’s an idea: why not commit to becoming leaders of stewardship for our planet? Many Gen Yers already get it; it’s now our turn.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. March 22, 2010 5:47 am

    I’m in Gen X and I wonder why I see life in different perspective. It’s like I’m in my silver years. I have endured depression when I was 30 and I’ve had a near death experience when I’m in my mid 20’s. During my teenage years I’m frequent the hospital, particularly in the ICU unit to care for my father who is suffering from emphysema, and there I have witnessed many lives faltered. Perhaps this are the reasons I feel like an old man. I’m only 36 but I treat each days as if it’s my last. In my mind nags the reality that there’s a very thin line between life and death. This is what I always consider when I wake up every morning and do my best at everything I do, and act on my goals with all I’ve got. 🙂

    • March 22, 2010 12:13 pm

      Thanks Walter. What you describe is shared across generational cohorts. You’ve experienced a lot so far in life, but seem to have goals of which you have not lost sight. Stay focused on them. Many people lose their way in life through personal or family trauma, but taking each day as it comes and having goals is very important in a fast-paced world.

      A former work colleague, with whom I did some leadership work, talked a lot about being “present” in body, mind and spirit. I still remember his words, though I often don’t practice this myself. But it’s vital to who we are as human beings, and it’s something I need to work on more.

      Good luck!

  2. March 20, 2010 12:43 am

    Jim,

    It was interesting reading your personal inventory of boomer accomplishments. You’ve done well for yourself.

    I’m not quite a boomer, but I can assess my progress against the benchmarks you’ve set.

    Happily Married

    Two kids, 11 and 18. The older one who will go to college in the fall, leaving me with a half empty (or half full)nest.

    Educated — BS and MBA. This is as smart as I get. 🙂

    Fitness — yep, work out at least 6 days a week and have for years.

    No real mid-life crises to speak of (yet), even though I’m mid-life.

    Never went consumer-spending crazy — Too busy saving for the kids’ college and retirement. House mortgage is the only debt and that will be paid off in less than 2 years. Yay!

    Parents/In laws — just starting to have some health issues, need some assistance.

    Career change — No, I’m good. Self-employed. Love it. I just keep growing and modifying the types of services I offer, products I produce, etc.

    Hope for future — As the kids get older, would like to have time to travel, not be so constrained by school schedules and work schedules.

    Feeling good about where I am but also looking forward to a little more freedom as kid responsibilities lessen and maybe I back off work a bit. A more relaxed pace would be a welcome change.

    Thanks for the checklist, Jim. I don’t think I’ve ever done an assessment like that. Gives me a new perspective. Looking over the list, I’m feeling okay with where things are and am hopeful for the future too. It’s all good.

    • March 20, 2010 2:04 am

      I’m glad you waded in, Susan. Anyone born before 1966 and after 1948 is (unfortunately) a Baby Boomer. We come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Not becoming a pretty sight. The coming years will a great more frugality among everyone – something that will be a challenge for many (but not all)Boomers. I’m finding it very interesting reading about the latest consumer trends and what’s happening in the public sector in America.

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