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What is a New Boomer?

I grew up in blue-collar neighborhoods where hard work and strong values were the norm. The kids I went to school with had parents who worked tirelessly to provide for their families. While we lived paycheck to paycheck and didn't have a lot, we always had enough. The Christmas tree always had presents under its tensile draped branches, and we always celebrated birthdays. Our parents taught us the value of hard work, and if we desired something beyond what they could provide, we learned to earn it ourselves.

At the age of 13, I began working on a farm, earning $25 a week which consisted of Monday through Saturday, days often long after dark, depending on when the last bale of hay was put away in the haymow. We drove tractors and trucks, and somehow, we survived it all. At 16, I started working at the local McDonald's, using my earnings to put custom wheels on my dad's truck, take my girlfriend on occasional dinners and movies, and even buy an 8-track tape player and Craig speakers for my ride. Life was good.

I always knew that McDonald's wasn't a lifelong career, but it taught me invaluable lessons about teamwork, responsibility, and the importance of doing a job well, even when it wasn't the most enjoyable task. I was grateful for the opportunity to earn money for myself.

During high school, I participated in sports, where locker rooms echoed with teenage bravado and machismo. Yes, we sometimes spoke about girls in unflattering ways – we were just boys. However, my mom taught me what it meant to be a gentleman. She emphasized walking on the streetside of the sidewalk, opening doors for ladies, treating women with respect, and never raising a hand to a woman. I learned to support their aspirations and show respect to our elders. "Yes, mom," I would say. When we lost a football game, our coach didn't hand out participation trophies; instead, we ran extra wind sprints the following week.

My family attended church on Sundays, and although not all my childhood friends did, we all shared a reverence for something greater than ourselves. Each school day began with the Pledge of Allegiance and a silent prayer. When the national anthem was played before athletic events, everyone stood, removed their hats, faced the flag, and placed their hands over their hearts, or saluted if they were veterans. We believed in something grand.

We were taught to be good neighbors, always ready to help a neighbor in need. More than once, I was sent to our neighbors with an empty measuring cup to borrow a cup of sugar when my mom was baking. She returned the borrowed cup with a bag of sugar and a cake she made with it. If you borrowed a car, you'd return it with a full tank of gas. These were the values instilled in us Baby Boomers.

As Boomers, we made significant strides in our journey through life. We ushered in the sexual revolution and championed equality for women. We made tremendous progress in racial equality and civil rights. We transformed society from an industrial base to a technological one, introducing the internet, personal computers, and cell phones. We brought prosperity to more people than the world had ever seen. So, who are we now? Who are these people the world knows as Boomers?

We are everything we have always been and more. With a lifetime of experiences under our belts, we now combine that wisdom with our energy and passion, making us a group of individuals who can continue to leave their mark on the world. Yes, our careers may be winding down, and our children have left our homes (mostly), but rest assured, Boomers have not gone to sleep.

We want to use our time-tested talents, skills, and abilities to continue making a difference. We yearn to explore the world, embrace new cultures, and keep learning and growing. I've come to realize that "retirement" doesn't mean withdrawing from the world; it's an opportunity to become even more involved in a greater capacity than ever before. I want to make a difference. I want to use the skills I've developed and the wisdom I've earned to improve people's lives. And I believe you do too. But how? Here's what I've found.

Our new lives begin with the realization that as Boomers, our position in the world is changing, and we need a new life plan. The first phase of our life is dedicated to developing our ability to survive and achieve. We learn from our parents and grandparents, from schools, and from our peers. As we move into the second phase of our life, the building phase, we work on our careers, grow our families, and strive toward our vision of success. We worked hard, played hard, made mistakes, and grew along the way. Much of our life was focused on external factors like our careers, children, and families. Now, as we enter this third and final phase of life, we may feel confused about our identity, purpose, and how to find fulfillment. A revised life plan will guide us toward the fulfillment we seek.

We start by looking back, taking inventory of the things that brought us joy, the skills we developed, and the successes we experienced. What lessons did we take away from the school of life? Secondly, we take our answers to these questions and consider how we can invest these assets into a new vision for the final chapters of our story. What legacy do we want to leave? Whose lives do we want to impact, and how will we accomplish that? What experiences do I want to live? And third, we shape all this information into a cohesive life plan.

Of course, there is more to this process than what I have outlined here. This is the time for genuine introspection. To truly know who you are, you must examine the events, traumas, and experiences that shaped you in the first place. This can be a challenging process, and you may need to navigate some emotional landmines along the way. This is where a good coach can be instrumental in helping you move through the process of self-reflection, healing, and building a new life plan. It's a transformative journey, akin to the metamorphosis of a butterfly; we go inside first and then emerge as the New Boomer. Embrace it with enthusiasm and determination, for there is much more we can do to make a positive impact on the world.

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