Can You Have it All As a Baby Boomer In Business?
Recently one of my clients was anxiously anticipating a change at his work. A new manager was coming to town and the renewal of the lease on the building was due. My client didn't know who the new manager was going to be, but he did know that he didn't want to step up and be it. He loved the work he did and didn't want to have the life of a manager. He also really liked the fact that his office was close to home. One of his deepest values was his family. So the idea that a new manager was going to come into the business and maybe move the office a couple of towns away, disturbed him.
Baby boomers are at a fun time in their lives. Most are in transition and a lot of them are looking at their businesses differently. Many of my clients ask me, in a roundabout way, if they can have it all. Can they have a full family life, successful business, and enriching "me time," (which often includes travel or doing things that give them fulfillment)?
Clear on the Definition
The first step is to determine what having it all means to you. What it means to one person is definitely not what it means to another. Does it mean making loads of money, success exploding from your business, a very romantic love life, quality time for kids, and a spotlessly clean house? Or does it mean having that quiet satisfaction of knowing that you are happy with what is happening in your life, and you're enjoying a sense of contributing?
A lot of my baby boomer clients want a sprinkling of things in their life that make them feel complete. If they're overloaded in one area, things start not working out as well for them. For example, one of my friends played with a grandchild several full days a week. She loved her grandbaby and cherished the time with that child, but after doing this for over a year, she started feeling swallowed up with the labors of childcare.
It was a huge struggle for her to determine what she wanted to do because she loved her grandchild and wanted what was best for that child. But the more she took care of the child, the more she had the general sense that she was no longer contributing in a bigger way. For some women, watching their grandchild would be just perfect and completely satisfying. For this friend, that wasn't the case.
Before she could achieve satisfaction, she had to identify what was causing the problem. Once she figured out that she had an inner yearning to contribute more and to be seen for her other skills, she was able to do something about it.
It is also important to realize that having "it all" and happiness are two different things. You need to prioritize between the two.
Research the Possibilities
My friend decided the possible solution to her problem would be to find a part-time job. She then determined what kind of work she was good at and would give her the satisfaction she needed.
For other baby boomers, the answer may not be as clear cut as this example. Many of my clients need to try out the balance of the things that are most important to them. They ask themselves questions like:
*If I work only so many hours a week, what would that be like? Feel like? How would that affect others?
*Would more firm boundaries give me the breathing room that I need to feel better?
*What would happen if I took a day off regularly?
*What am I doing when I feel at my best?
After they think they know the answers to what work/life balance will bring them happiness, it is time for them to experiment and try it out and see if what they experience is anywhere close to what they imagined.
My friend didn't need to do this because she had worked before, and she knew the kind of job she wanted and the hours and the type of work place she'd be working in. After you have a good sense of what will work for you, balancing the factors of your life, your wants, needs, and desires, it's time to make it a reality, or in other words, time to swing into action.
Make It So
For some this can be one of the scariest steps because not only is it taking action, but it is also making a declaration for you and the kind of life that you want to live.
Striving for happiness is not always the easiest path, and is not one that can be accomplished without bravery and courage. It takes a lot to stand up against what is "normal" and say I am going to make some changes.
My friend applied for the job that met her criteria and got it within a week. Her boss is thrilled, and her husband is happier, but most importantly she is happier, and she still has a great time with her grandchild.
It is not always easy to take the steps to happiness, but that is what it takes to live a life of no regrets.
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