Heads-Up Gen Xers and Baby Boomers: “We’re Gonna Have the Time of Our Lives!”
Thinking about what’s next? Here’s how to make the most of this extraordinary chapter in your life.
Singer, song-writer and self-proclaimed “bad-ass” Bonnie Raitt is well known for her musical career spanning five decades and several musical genres including Rock, R&B and Country. Born in 1949, Raitt is a free spirit who has continued to reinvent herself throughout her career. Her famous lyric, “We’re gonna have the time of our lives! speaks to a generation that has defied aging and turned the definition of “old” on its ear.
Midlife and beyond is marked by unique opportunities and challenges. Our parent’s generation saw it as a time for winding down, whereas many of us are just getting started. This is due in part to increased life expectancy. Nowadays, it takes a lot longer to get old than it used to! Why then do we feel some trepidation at this stage of our lives?
It’s starting to sink in that we might not be around for as long as we’ve been around. A sobering thought, giving new meaning to the term carpe diem. At midlife and beyond, we start taking inventory. This is a time for drawing up wills and contemplating end of life decisions. The nest may now be empty. Relationships with adult children are changing. Some are adjusting to their role as grandparents.
It is not uncommon to make significant personal and/or professional changes during this stage of life. Some may be considering retirement, albeit a very different version of it than our parent’s. It’s as if we’re ramping up and winding down all at the same time. We’re starting to ask ourselves, what’s next?
As women, we go through “the change” in more ways than one. We may be torn between the needs of aging parents and adult children. Some of us are still going strong in committed relationships, whereas others are going solo, by design or default. Sadly, we begin to lose family members and friends.
A lot of the stress and confusion we experience at midlife and beyond is due to fear of the unknown. It is by nature, a transitional season in our lives. We’ve got adulthood down pretty well, but now there’s a fork in the road. What do you want your life to look like? How do you see yourself ten, twenty or thirty years from now? Start by asking your wise eighty year-old self the following questions:
1. Are you happy? If not, why not?
2. If you could go back in time and change anything, what would you have done differently?
3. What advice do you have for me?
Her answers will provide guidance and direction in response to that all-important question, what’s next? You know her better than you think. Her unique perspective provides a panoramic view of your life, enabling her to see the future and the past. She is a part of yourself that can be accessed at any time.
The good news is that getting older has its perks. You’re more accepting of who you are, less concerned about what others think and more willing to speak your truth. Plus, it’s better than the alternative! As we move through these stages of adulthood, the cumulative effect of life experience and lessons learned, guide us along our path of personal growth and development.
Compared to previous generations, we’ve changed our attitudes toward aging as we learn to love the face in the mirror (wrinkles and all) and celebrate the hard-won wisdom of our life journey. We look forward to designing and implementing a game plan for the future that will take us well into the next chapter. Stepping back is no longer the only option. Yep, “We’re gonna have the time of our lives!”