July 9, 2019

Written by Scott Miller

I’ve got a prediction. This is a bit unusual for me because, as a classic boomer, I tend to look over my own personal horizon, a mindset that rarely translates into attempts to predict future trends. I study trends but don’t predict them.

This prediction has a number of origins. The first ties into the fact that baby boomers have changed the world at every stage of their lives. Many factors have contributed to the world-changing dynamic of the boomer generation that writers have elaborated on in depth, so let’s not go into that. Suffice it to say in this short blog post that changing the world is a characteristic of boomer DNA.

The second origin is the growing number of authors focusing on the top of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. In college, boomers were taught that the peak of Maslow’s Hierarchy is self-actualization. That was perfect for us. We embraced it wholeheartedly. However, later in life Maslow amended his ideas and enhanced his model with the idea of transcendence as a superseding concept to self-actualization. It’s important to keep in mind that people get stuck in the various stages of Maslow’s pyramid. It takes effort and self-work to move up. For those who continue to do the self-work and grow, just as we moved up the pyramid and built our identities through the various stages, so too we move through self-actualization and into transcendence. Boomers have concentrated on attaining self-actualization unlike any generation before us, only to discover that it’s a lonely destination. When we’re lost in ourselves life becomes barren and meaningless and we become despondent. Transcendence, however, is restorative and life giving. It’s an outward, service-oriented, others-based lifestyle reinforced by a deepening spirituality, with an expanding sense of purpose cultivated through relationships and community. A list of books that delve into the idea of transcendence and how to work toward it appears at the end of this post in a suggested order of reading.

Third, we are going to live longer than any previous generation. We’re going to be more healthy and vital, spending more years in “post-career” than people ever have before. Technology and sophisticated healthcare have a lot to do with it. We are going to need something productive to do with all of our energy. A friend of mine who is 82 retired at the age of 55. That’s more than 25 post-career years. Given his health I won’t be surprised if he cracks 100, living a full and rewarding life.  He’s drawn upon his career and family-raising years and translated his experiences into a subtle yet vital sense of wisdom. He’s a lively joker, yet willing to engage in deep, meaningful discussions. He serves relentlessly in a variety of ways. He encourages his adult children and his grandchildren. He’s creating a legacy of worthy values that his family and friends will cherish throughout their lives.

My prediction? The baby boomer generation is emerging as The Wisdom Generation. As we discover the emptiness of self-actualization and live the extra years medical technology will us bless with, we’re going to embrace Maslow’s idea of transcendence in a way the world has never experienced before.

One additional thing led me to this prediction. Boomers have been moving to Garden Spot Village for years and I see their journeys beyond self-actualization in process through the things they are doing and how they’re living. A few years ago 25 percent of the people moving to Garden Spot Village were boomers. That has jumped by 2 percent to 27 percent. That’s significant. At Sycamore Springs, 86 percent of the people who have selected a new home there are boomers. There’s something going on. The Garden Spot value proposition is Abundant Opportunities to Live with Purpose in Community and the culture supports it. It’s attracting boomers.

Combined with all the sociological and demographic information about boomers that I’m learning, I’m also experiencing people who have moved beyond themselves, who are others and service oriented, who are establishing meaningful relationships and strengthening not only the community at Garden Spot but also the local and global communities as well. I’m seeing boomers move beyond self-actualization.

With all the life experience, skills and abilities they cultivated throughout their family-raising and career-building years, boomers have a lot of wisdom and energy they can still pour into making the world a better place. Many are already doing it and I believe it’s the start of something big.

Some books that explore the idea of transcendence:

  • Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor E. Frankl
  • Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life, Richard Rohr
  • Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life: How to Finally, Really Grow Up, James Hollis
  • The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey of Self-Discovery, Ian Morgan Cron
  • The Second Mountain, David Brooks
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