The Defy Aging Newsletter
Anti-aging psychology, holistic health, and wellness
a biweekly e-mail newsletter for helping you think, feel, look, and be more youthful and live with purpose.
June 4, 2009 Number 210
Boomeritis: Dealing with Boomer Life Transitions
Action to take
Consider traditional retirement obsolete. If you feel stuck or trapped in your life course, look to other Boomers for role models.
How does a narcissistic generation that was determined to reshape the world deal with career crashes, job burnout, divorce, empty nests, aging parents, and deciding whether to retire? Psychologist Dr. Jeff Johnson and Sociologist Dr. Paula Forman, authors of The Hourglass Solution: A Boomer's Guide to the Rest of Your Life, help us think out how what is unique about Boomers and how to generatively handle Boomer life transitions.
I didn’t highlight it in my interview with them, but their metaphor is that in middle age many Boomers feel that they are trapped by previous choices, and their lives are funneling into an increasingly narrow channel. Dr. Johnson and Dr. Forman see the dilemma as analogous to the narrow section of an hourglass. The key to getting through this narrow passage and into the bottom part of the hourglass is realizing there are always options. They emphasize looking to other Boomers for role models and success stories to see new options and get unstuck. It make take courage to make the changes, but the ensuing renewed sense of purpose is usually well worth the risk.
They see Baby Boomers as still destined to change the world because of their generation's size, values, ideals, and sense of entitlement. They were also clear that most Boomers find traditional retirement unsatisfying. That is because most Boomers get bored with retirement and because so much of our identity derives from what we do vocationally or avocationally. It is time to retire the word retirement and have a new vision for Greater Adulthood.
So often discussion about Boomers is just nostalgia and trivia. I found it fascinating to explore the Boomer experience and how it is evolving. In particular, I was fascinated by their image of Boomers having a very strong sense of both entitlement and a willingness to take on all responsibilities including careers, micromanaging their kids and caring for aging parents. The downside can be difficulty prioritizing and difficulty with trying to do everything. Clearly, Boomers will continue to have a profound effect on our culture. Dr. Johnson and Dr. Forman view Boomers through the lens of psychology, sociology, advertising, their own experience, and hundreds of interviews with Boomers. Their perspective takes pride in Boomerdom and encourages and embraces choice and learning from other Boomers.
P.S. If you have a good term for what word or words should replace retirement, I’d love to hear it, share it with other listeners and readers, and pass it on to Dr. Johnson and Dr. Forman. Just send an email to radio@AgelessLifestyles.com. You can hear the free 50 minute podcast of my interview with Dr. Johnson and Dr. Forman at Ageless Lifestyles® LLC.
Retirement may be a social experiment that has outlived its usefulness.
~Dr. Jeff Johnson
Q: When is the best time to start thinking about your retirement?
A: Before your boss does.
Boomer hypochondriacs never die (they just imagine it).
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