One Generation Now

Geoff Smith Portrait

BY Geoff Smith

POSTED ON NOVEMBER 7, 2011

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ONE GENERATION NOW: I have this thought about Boomers, Gen X’s, Gen Y’s, and all the demographic groupings. Which is: it might just be over.

OK, it’s two thoughts. The first is that when boomers (like me) were younger, we planned on living quite differently from our parents – we wouldn’t be slaves to our jobs, to materialism; we would insist on greater balance in our lives, we would not just hold on to our ideals, we would live them. And we knew that our time was coming. Thirty years on, it appears that we boomers have become our parents, and now we pay consultants to tell us how to best work with younger Gen Xers, and Gen Y’s, who absolutely insist on – guess what – more balance, more freedom. We are advised that only employers who take these aspirations into account have a shot at attracting these talented people to our firms.

All of which is OK with me - I just have this déjà vu thing happening.

The second thought is that these recessions, they make for tough choices, choices which absolutely everyone would prefer to avoid.

This is not some old guy’s blurb about how the tough realities of life force people to abandon their ideals, because I think that many people will respond differently to the choices they will be faced with.

What I am guessing is that the responses to these choices won’t be split along generational lines. I think lots of younger people will decide to dive in hard, while many absolutely won’t. And I am seeing many older people choosing to continue their careers, some because they have discovered that they would miss them too much, some because they have no choice. (Me, on the other hand, I’m thinking maybe I can still find some of that balance I keep promising myself and my family).

When we emerge from this downturn, we will all of us be more aligned in experience, perspective, and hopefully in values. If so, I definitely won’t miss these demographic silos. Or the consultants.