The More We Age The More We Are The Same
The tough life transitions that women in their 40's, 50's and beyond navigate can often be the result of age-related job loss compounded by simultaneously occurring transitions like caretaking, menopause and financial distress. Being hit by multiple life transitions can be devastating and damage or ruin a woman's quality of life for the rest of her life.
Younger generations may not notice and often don't realize that soon those same life transitions will be theirs to navigate. Generational differences don't apply… it happens to this age group over and over again. It's the irony of every generation, but it doesn't have to be. We can break the cycle and strive to make this time of life less destructive going forward.
Ages 45-65 are when women become the most overlooked and the most vulnerable to financial instability. It's time we ask ourselves, what are we going to do now to improve conditions for women who are already struggling? And how can we create a legacy of solutions for our daughters, our granddaughter's and beyond?
What can researchers tell us?
According to The Pew Research Center, "Gen Xers are bookended by two much larger generations – the Baby Boomers ahead and the Millennials behind – that are strikingly different from one another. And in most of the ways we take stock of generations – their racial and ethnic makeup; their political, social and religious values; their economic and educational circumstances; their technology usage – Gen Xers are a low-slung, straight-line bridge between two noisy behemoths.
"One reason Xers have trouble defining their own generational persona could be that they’ve rarely been doted on by the media. By contrast, Baby Boomers have been a source of media fascination from the get-go (witness their name). And Millennials, the “everybody-gets-a-trophy” generation, have been the subject of endless stories…"
To better illustrate these differences, here's what Daymon Worldwide learned in their Consumers' Personality survey about these generations:
Boomers largely seek to fit in with others while Millennials seek to stand out from others. This leaves Gen Xers quietly in the middle identifying with both their leading and trailing generations. This insight supports the Pew Research conclusion that Gen Xers are bridge to both Baby Boomers and Millennials.
And it's not too early to recognize that the Millennials are being followed by Generation Z or the Centennials, the generation that Business Insider reported as "Millennials on steroids."
What might all of this mean?
With the Boomers, a generation that is deeply experienced at promoting change, already well into their 50's and beyond, it is time for Gen Xers, most in their 40's and early 50's, to take notice and support efforts toward change.
Many Xers are already feeling the pains and strains and fears that leading Boomers have. Some have even found their voice on a variety of issues impacting women. And a few have touched on pieces of the tough life transitions that women experience.
Based on what we know, it's natural to wonder if Millennial women will be prepared for this challenge when their time comes? Millennials have had it rough already, often in deep debt, unable to find sustainable incomes and living at home well into their thirties. It's conceivable that changes in their 40's may come too soon for them to act.
But consider the differences between the generations as their strengths instead and the possibility for cooperative change increases exponentially. It may look something like Boomers using their experience to create the foundation for change. Gen Xers follow with simultaneously building on that foundation and giving a stronger voice to it. Millennials and beyond are then well-suited to expand on established change and spread its message around the globe.
Given how well the generations complement one another more so than differ (not just for a cause, but also in the workplace), it makes perfect sense to develop an environment of diversity, a healthy mix of generations, in order to bring about the changes needed to support women approaching and over 50.
How can Boomers and Xers blaze that trail?
Much of this struggle can be overcome by changing minds.
We must change the minds of employers who seek to dismiss older workers. We must change the minds of recruiters who seek youth over experience. We must change the minds of solution providers to understand that suffering through multiple life transitions is a real and debilitating life existence. And we must change the minds of generations behind us that these transitional years do not make us old or weak, nor do we become irrelevant. These years are when we can be at our living and giving best!
By helping these groups to respect and understand that we are strong, experienced, intelligent, compassionate, hard working women, we are better able to come together with determination to see that positive change can and will happen.
From there we must identify free and affordable, relevant and rare solutions to help women approaching and over 50 traverse the difficult life transitions that can otherwise ruin lives. Tangible solutions in the areas of employment, physical fitness, healthcare, continuing education, financial relief, caretaking aid, relationship development and overall visibility are needed.
Having women of an assured age struggling in silence through tough life transitions is no longer an option and it is not an issue that we should leave unresolved for future generations.
You can help. Leaping the Chasm is asking women of an assured age to help us understand the unique struggles and needs of this age group by answering ten anonymous questions. It's fast, it's easy and it's the first step toward developing solutions.
If you have a tough life transition story and want to share your experience with others or are willing to be interviewed for a column, please contact us. If you are a solution or service provider and would like LTC to review your offering, contact us to discuss.
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About Leaping the Chasm
Leaping the Chasm™ (LTC) provides candid conversations and social media engagement for women in their 40's, 50's and beyond who are undergoing the personal, physical, financial, education and employment transitions that often accompany mid-life. LTC shares experiences, transfers knowledge, improves outlook, connects people, and helps identify opportunities for this powerful demographic.