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 across several musical genres. Born in 1949, Raitt is a free spirit who has continued to reinvent herself over the course of 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’ upside-down.
Midlife and beyond is marked by unique opportunities and challenges. Our parent’s generation viewed it as a time for winding down, whereas many of us are just ramping up. 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. It’s a time for drawing up wills and making end of life decisions. The nest may now be empty. Relationships with adult children are changing and some of us are adjusting to our roles as grandparents.
It is not uncommon to make significant personal and/or professional changes during these life stages. Some may be considering retirement, albeit a very different version from our parent’s. Others are continuing to work, but modifying it to fit their new lifestyle. At some point we 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. Sadly, we begin to lose family members and friends.
A lot of the stress and confusion we experience at this time of life is due to fear of the unknown. It is an unfamiliar and transitional season in our lives. We had adulthood down pretty well, but now there’s a fork in the road. What do you want your life to look like going forward? How do you see yourself ten or twenty years from now? Start by asking your wise, eighty year-old self the following questions:
1. What is the most important lesson you’ve learned during your lifetime?
2. What have you regretted the most?
3. What is the most important piece of advice you can give me today?
Her answers will provide guidance and direction. She knows you well. Her unique perspective gives her a panoramic view, enabling her to see the future and the past. She is a part of you 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 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 custom game plan for the future. Stepping back or slowing down during retirement are no longer the only options.