Saturday, August 15, 2009

OPINION: Woodstock, Baby Boomers and the Retirement Life

By Cathy Severson

The summer of 1969 was a pivotal time for the emerging baby boomer generation. While we commemorate Woodstock this month and the small hamlet of Bethel's onslaught of 500,000 youth, it must be remembered that most of the 77 million baby boomers weren't there. Likewise, they didn't participate in the Haight-Ashbury experience in San Francisco. Yet, those events have been deemed essential in describing the baby boomer experience.

What makes the baby boomer generation unique beyond our shear numbers? Other than being born between 1946 and 1964, we have very little in common with each other.

In fact, so much of the folklore concerning baby boomers - the sixties - the summer of love, the civil rights and women's movement, activism against the Viet Nam war involved very few of them personally. This is a generation that is diversified much more than it is unified.

What defines baby boomers more than most other descriptors is their desire for experience. We might not have attended any of the events mentioned above, but we were aware of their occurrence, not by the newspaper or even the radio, but in a visual real time by television. In an interesting, but profound way, the experience of our peers thousands of miles away shaped our own desires and destinies.

Many of those desires for experience got sidetracked as we entered adulthood. We often exchanged experiences for a good job, and raising a family. Not that there weren't good experiences connected with those parts of life.

As people approach retirement, they are hoping to recapture the escapades and experiences they craved as youth and have foregone as adults.

We see many of the traditional retirement activities approached in unique ways. Travel is being partnered with learning and volunteering. Would you go to Hawaii, not just for a tan, but to volunteer on an organic farm?

We're learning quickly that there is no recapturing of youth. Retirement and aging will bring its own new rewards and trade-offs. Experience can no longer be achieved with wild abandon, but must be carefully selected, nurtured and savored.

Cathy Severson, MS helps you make the most of your retirement. Baby boomers understand this isn't your parents retirement. Find out how to make the rest of your life the best of your life with the complimentary e-book 7 Ingredients for a Satisfying Retirement at

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