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59ers And The Next Age

59ers by Terry Cochran

Just as the Baby Boom generation changed "middle age" into "mid-youth," they are now changing "old age" into the "next age." They feel that "older" is not the same as "old." Those gray hairs are signs of hard-won wisdom rather than impending doom.

I can remember when 60 sounded ancient and when folks who were that old looked ancient, too. But just as Baby Boomers used their enthusiasm, energy, and willingness to invest in their own pleasure to enjoy mid-youth, so too are they taking care of themselves now as they enter that next age.

Today's 59ers are actively enjoying life. Rather than hunkering down and seeking diminished roles as they shrink from public view -- the traditional slow death of old age -- they are simply changing their roles. Sure, they may willingly stop holding the red cape in front of the bull or stop that hard-charging hunt for the next dollar (or the next million), but they are just changing their activities, not ending them.

In the next age, the typical Boomers will find roles they enjoy in activitites or jobs which interest them. Stepping out of the rat race or off of the corporate treadmill is not the same as disappearing into the abyss. In fact, in today's digital world, slowing down a bit just allows more time for that blog or discussion forum where you can sound off and let your own little corner of the virtual world become known.

The next age is not about retirement or declining health or other standard maladies of aging. No, the next age will see today's 59ers leading the way into still more new areas. The corporate world may continue promoting its younger generation, as it always has. But that just means there will be an incredible number of experienced, mature leaders available who will have the time and energy to focus on improving the world around them.

Philanthropy will grow in America, since its older citizens have usually been the ones providing the bulk of the cash for such needs. The rate of growth, though, will not be as great as the demographic shift in the over-60 age bracket. That's because Boomers will also have to figure out how to provide for that next age, more than their parents did. Where their parents could count on company pensions and healthy Social Security checks to pave the road to their sunsets, the Boomers will find more potholes than pavement.

Corporations have downsized and outsourced themselves out of the lifetime loyalty game. Pension plans have been gutted or converted, at the same time that grave concerns have been raised about the Social Security system as a whole. The "Greatest Generation" -- parents of many of the Boomers -- did a great job of taking care of itself, but the same formulas and systems will not suffice in this next age.

Once again, Boomers will need to redefine what it means to grow older. This will likely mean more consulting practices and home-based businesses, rather than more time on the golf course. And it will likely mean more ongoing involvement in the daily work world than in recent memory for the over-60 cohort. But that's okay, we've seen such challenges before. The next age will be a time for new solutions, just as we've had to develop at every step along the path.

So we can't just sit down on the job and say we quit? Okay, no big deal. Do a few stretching exercises, center yourself with a little controlled breathing, and then find a comfortable chair. Grab that latte or guarana drink and get to it! The next age is waiting for you.

Note: You can also proudly show if you're at the leading edge. Just go to the BOOMERNET Apparel and Gift Shop and grab one of the new 59er shirts -- there are 3 different styles. Show the world that you are happy to be a 59er. And that "59ers Lead The Way" . . .

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