The Greatest Generations?

Generation Xers and Yers are being recognized for changing traditional views of the workplace.  The new generations of workers are standing up for “The American Dream,” in which the schedules are more flexible, vacation time is increased and health and wellness benefits are received.

Gen Xers and Yers sure are getting a lot of press these days. From what I’ve been reading, they’re being touted as the greatest generations since The Greatest Generation.

Xers and Yers are being recognized for redefining the traditional workplace as we know it, from creating flexible working opportunities and job sharing to increasing vacation time to making sabbaticals part of a career progression to garnishing company perks that actually have value to receiving both health and wellness benefits – these folks in their early 40s and the generation that follows them are endeavoring to tear down traditional corporate culture and redefine the ideal of a happy and successful life to which we all may aspire.

But I have some news of my own: Not all of the approximately 78 million Baby Boomers in the U.S. fit the characterization offered in EDN‘s article Talkin ’bout 4 generations. Yes, some of us may have, at one time:

“Had to sacrifice (our) work-life balance in order to get ahead, make a decent buck and take care of (our) financial and family commitments. (We’ve) earned (our) stripes the hard way.”

We may be known for being “ambitious, driven and hard-working. And yes, the older amongst us, the Civics (those born before 1946) “who are known for their dedication and personal sacrifice, respect for authority and conformity” may currently make up only 7% of the US workforce.

But many of us do live, or wish to live, what Penelope Trunk has described as the “New American Dream.” I cannot speak for the entire generation of Baby Boomers, but a great many of us feel as Penelope wrote:

“Our dream is about time, not money. No generation wants to live with financial instability. And we are no exception. But finances alone do not define someone’s American Dream. Especially when our dream is about how we spend our time.

The new American dream is that we will have fulfilling work that leaves plenty of time for the other things in life we love.”

Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not critical of the generations that came after me, nor am I resentful of the attention they’re receiving. My hat is off to the Xers and Yers who are standing up in great numbers and getting noticed. I am highly supportive of them. I’m a father of two college kids.

I am also supportive of anyone else who wishes and chooses to live a life in support of their beliefs and values, and I want all those Boomers out there to know that it’s not only possible and permissible to create the freedom of time to use however you’d like, it’s downright admirable to choose to have “fulfilling work that leaves plenty of time for the other things in life we love.”

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