Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Mid-Life Crisis Returns

Leave it to the boomer generation to reinvent one more thing.

As children, they reinvented the housing market: Their parents moved to the suburbs, leaving the city for safer neighborhoods and homes with enough space to give each child his or her own bedroom. Boomer girls now had the privacy to talk on their Princess phones and boomer boys the ideal space to play with their Hot Wheels.

As young adults, boomers reinvented the shopping experience. The first enclosed shopping mall opened the year the oldest boomer turned 10, an age when children become independent shoppers. Their generational love affair with Spencer Gifts and Orange Julius began.

Now in their mid-40s to 60s, boomers yet again have reinvented an American institution: the midlife crisis. Yep, we all remember someone who bought a red Porsche or a blue Corvette. We’ve seen a colleague buy a timeshare in some grand vacation spot, and we’ve a seen friend pick up a new hobby, like sky diving.

Each of these mini-transitions is fueled by the hope that this change will bring stimulation to their life and renew their energy. Most times it doesn’t.

Maybe it’s today’s economic times, where it’s not quite so practical to spend a lot of money on that new car or boat, or maybe boomers are simply maturing. Either way, the midlife crisis has changed its course— for the good.

The new midlife crisis is about meaning and purpose. We’ve all heard it said in many different ways: “There’s got to be more to life than working 50 hours a week” or “I want to give back and make a difference in someone’s life.”

This boomer revolution is about putting others first, about using our talents, skills, wisdom and time to make the world a better place.

Many boomers have turned to volunteering as a way to create meaning and purpose in their lives. In his book “With Purpose: Going from Success to Significance in Work and in Life,” Ken Dychtwald writes about the life-enhancing opportunity boomers have to discover their purpose and replant their wisdom as they give back to their community.

Ask retired nurse Joanne Chang how volunteering enhances her life and she will tell you, “Finding the right volunteer activity took a bit of effort, but when I gave myself to something meaningful, it simply made my life better. I am making a difference, I feel more alive and I meet the most amazing people.”

Maybe following a stronger purpose might add a new dimension to your life. Are you looking for more meaning and fulfillment in your life? Is there a cause you feel passionate about? Do you want to feel productive and see results? Would you like to leave a personal legacy?

Not sure about what volunteer opportunities are out there? If you are age 55 or older and want some help in finding the right place where your skills and talents can be put to good use, Thousand Oaks/Conejo Valley RSVP can assist in matching your personal interests and skills with opportunities that help solve community problems. You can reach RSVP at (805) 381-2742.

Last year the city of Thousand Oaks and its nonprofits received volunteer hours valued at more than $5 million. Volunteering is not only food for our soul, but also a gift to our community.

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Categories: Baby BoomersNumber of views: 1594

Tags: meaning and purpose

Andrea GallagherAndrea Gallagher

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