Somewhere between not being old enough and not being experienced enough there comes a time that you are no longer the sought after generation and your time to roam out to pasture begins. For some that is occurring at the ripe old age of half of a century.
My question is, what exactly is a fifty-something to do with themselves until they are able to retire?
In many ways, the generation that is sitting at or near a half-century mark never got their day in the sun. In fact, they have been very non-ceremonially been marked with an “X”. Seriously, we call them Generation X or Gen Xers’ and they do not fit with Baby-boomers and they are not Millennials, so what exactly are they? Basically, they went from being under-qualified, under-paid, under-insured to over-qualified, too old, and not creative enough to keep up with emerging technology. They just never really were the “it” generation, they were the “X’s”
So what is a Gen Xer to do? For me that has been a question that started in my mid-forties when I realized our generation would never be the sought after, what do they want so they will work here, generation. Now I am not saying there is anything wrong with those generations that are before and after, I’m just saying there is a distinct difference.
The thing is there also seems to be a shift in mindset that is coming with the changing of the guard.
It is an interesting time in the workplace because we are watching the changing of the guard so to speak. There are still many of the Baby-boomers that are in high places in organizations but there are equally as many Millennials making it up the ladder. The thing is there also seems to be a shift in mindset that is coming with the changing of the guard. There is more of an emphasis on the planet as a whole and the environment and what we as humans are doing to it. Now sure, possessions still are sought after and technology still rules as king for many, but there is also beginning to be a need, an urge, a desire to disconnect and start to communicate again.
What do I mean? Remember the days when people would gather at each other’s homes to sell items like Tupperware, Longaberger Baskets, Mary-Kay make-up? All those things that we needed, wanted, desired. Well, now there is Amazon and online shopping so who needs a party to buy something. Now there are Paint Nights and places where you can go to play a good old game of Jenga or a supersized version of Connect 4. There seems to be a shift from wanting things to wanting true connections. It taps into the creativity that lives within each of us. It is the difference between work/life balance and just a balanced life.
Speaking of work/life balance. Exactly what does that mean?
Last I checked I am alive while I am working. I am still the same person during the hours of 8-5 as I am at other times. Does that mean that when I’m working I’m not living? Quite the contrary and the interesting thing is that there are numerous articles telling me how to live during that time. Not sure why exactly. Isn’t being unique individuals part of what makes an organization interesting and well-rounded? Why should we all try to act the same way? Why do we not celebrate how we are different more? Is that how creativity is getting suppressed?
Recently I observed creatives referencing the need to “get it out” of them. I laughed when I heard someone say that creatives need to create or they make everyone around them miserable. I am not sure I understood until I realized I had a lot within me that was knocking the door to get out. There are thoughts, ideas, images, all looking for a way to escape my being yet I have suppressed them because what I think and see is different than those around me. In an effort to fit in I kept those thoughts and feelings to myself. The interesting thing that happens when you suppress who you are meant to be is you can feel unhappy, unfulfilled and you feel like your purpose is not met. For a creative person, you don’t get the fuel from others as they play off of your creativity.
I guess what I am saying is that creativity breeds creativity and to allow those with different ideas and concepts the room to share how they see the world. Trying to change a person into what the image of a leader is may cause that person to never be the true leader that they are. And while we are on that topic, not everyone is a leader.
Some people are excellent at following and we as a society need to celebrate those that follow as well as those that lead.
There is a role that both play and without one there cannot be the other.
The moral of the story is that work is life and life is work. Leaders are leaders, followers are followers, creatives create, age really does not matter and we are all unique and different and have our own style that is distinctively ours. Each of us should strive to do what is right for us no matter what generation your birth year categories you as. At least that’s what this Gen Xer roaming the beautiful pasture of life believes.