“Old age ain’t no place for sissies” Bette Davis
I, like many of my fellow boomers, stand at a crossroads of wonder. Uncertainty, fear, and indecision lie ahead as retirement plans and dreams so well laid out just a decade or so ago now are fragmented and in disarray.
What exactly happened to bring all this about? How did we get here? And where exactly is here? On one hand we’re living longer due to a massive uptick in medications, while at the same time we’re in the worse physical shape demographically of any group in our nation’s history1.
Financially many of us took a direct hit a few years back and for us continuing in the work force isn’t optional2.
There’s still quite a few of us, outnumbered only by Millennials3, which have overtaken us of late, but if that didn’t get to me I’m seeing articles such as this4 that seemingly feel boomers are the cause of all our country’s economic woes as well. Damn…that’s enough to get a fellow depressed, and sure enough, we’re leading the way in that too5.
I’m guessing it’s obvious I was born with an analytical nature, taking things apart at an early age to see how they worked. Led to being an auto mechanic, then service manager, then paintless dent repair, brief stint in a brokerage firm and time as a restaurateur came before finally ‘finding myself’ as a physical therapist assistant in my 50s. Now you would think after all those experiences the stuff sited in the above paragraphs would just roll right off, but it doesn’t, and I’ll bet the effects I’m feeling are shared by many of us. So, let’s get down to ‘how the hog ate the cabbage’ so to speak and see what we can do to not only survive this mess, but prosper!
“I had six honest serving men, they taught me all I knew; their names were Where & What & When and Why and How and Who.” Rudyard Kipling
The why and how and where in determining direction from here are giving me the most grief, but we’ve not come this far to be throwing in the towel just yet, so let’s sit back for a moment and take an honest assessment.
Encouraged by a plethora of articles/books on the topic I took a personal inventory of what comes up the most as “habits of successful and happy people” thinking maybe I’m really in control of this mess and I don’t have to reside within all the dismal statistics sited in my opening paragraphs.
Most mentioned as a happiness-fulfillment in life factor were as follows:
- Meaningful work
- Get Finances under control and budget
- Develop a social network
- Devote regular time to exercise
- Healthy eating habits
- Healthy lifestyle
- Daily time for meditation
- Lifelong learning/reading habits
- Maintain an attitude of gratitude
- Never let go of that childlike awe & wonder in life
As I reviewed each of the above I came to see just how much I have to be thankful for, and if truthful with yourself, you do as well.
One thing I know for a certainty. Time is marching on and as I’ve captioned on my home page “Get busy living…” Perhaps it’s just that, the continually setting of short/long term goals that keeps us striving as the boomer time passes over to the next generations that helps keep our focus on the journey and off the mounting years and accumulating stresses that accompany them.
Viktor Frankl in “Man’s Search for Meaning” boiled it down to one component to determine anyone’s future happiness or demise…Hope! If you know anything of his life, you know he was most qualified to speak.
What of you, fellow boomer? How are you dealing with the process? Ideas, suggestions for the rest of us? Throw it out there in the comment section below, might just be the tip someone has needed to hear.
Live well my friends, Dennis