The Importance of Having Millennials and Gen X’ers in Your Life After 60
In my opinion, here are 5 reasons why you should hang with younger people:
- Help you stay current with social, cultural and political trends.
- Increase your energy and positive attitude. Being around younger people with future hopes and dreams can be infectious.
- Anyone 10-30 years younger should still be around when you’re in your 80s and beyond.
- Gain a surrogate son or daughter, especially if you’re childless or if your own kids are emotionally or physically distant. Some younger folks crave a mentor and benefit of your life experiences.
- Social security! They’re paying for it. It’s in your interest to help younger people lead productive lives and pay taxes.
Finding Common Ground
The Gen Xer’s (born 1965-1976) seem to be closer to Boomers in cultural references where you can usually communicate easily and find common ground.
The Millennials (born 1977-1995), however, have a very different outlook, cultural tastes, humor and references. If you have Millennial children, you probably know the score.
There are similarities with Millennials and Boomers, though. Both generations are tending towards freelancing, part-time work and self-employment. This is a new phenomenon which also provides a bridge between generations.
The age difference seems to disappear when there are common interests, opinions and sense of humor, and that helps you relate as peers.
I have a writer friend in her mid-70s who attends a horror and Sci-fi movie Meetup with millennials and Gen X’ers. She loves their all night parties, and is matriarch of the group, advising them on their love lives.
My mother-in law, from her 70s to her 90s, maintained close friendships with a group of young antique dealers. A dollhouse collector, she was a lively, energetic personality who drank a lot of beer with those youngsters. They were devastated when she passed.
I belong to a digital sketch production collective with a talented group of 20- to 40-year-olds. With their collaboration, I wrote and produced two digital sketches this past year that aired on the site, Funny or Die.
Where and How to Hang
The site Meetup is an excellent place to find groups of younger and diverse members. Consider groups that focus on fitness, film, books, arts and music.
You can also look for volunteer opportunities in your community that attract a diverse crowd. Book clubs are another avenue, although mainly consisting of women, they draw a range of ages.
When you do hang with younger people, try to not lecture-reminisce about the good old days unless you’re asked to. I catch myself, all the time, making references to an old TV show, song or a musical group. I preface it, “before your time” and ensure it’s relevant and relatable.
You should stay away from talk about health or anything ‘aging’ related. Also avoid money discussions. You may be in a very different financial situation than younger folks just starting out.
Pace yourself if you’re taking part in a physical activity, and don’t be ashamed to limit your movements. Usually, they are in far better shape than you.
Listen and learn some of their lingo. You’ll hear expressions like, ‘lit’ (drunk), ‘bae’ (significant other), ‘woke’ (socially aware), ‘fleek’ (good), and new meanings for old terms like ‘hipster.’
I was caught unaware at a party when told to stop talking and freeze for the “Mannequin Challenge” where someone takes a group photo and posts it online.
Working with and Leading Younger Teams and Reporting to a Younger Person
Until a year ago, I managed teams of collectors across the globe. At one point, I managed staff from age 20 to 70 in one team. Team synergy was a challenge, but became possible after leveraging strengths and understanding each person’s expectations and goals.
Hanging on to those Millenials was tough but was made possible when they felt challenged, appreciated and in tune with the team/corporate strategy.
The Millennials are tech savvy, resilient and nomadic. They have different expectations, need to feel appreciated, and believe in corporate social responsibility. I often joke that the Boomers generally didn’t care about what their companies were up to as long as they got their paychecks and pensions.
If your younger manager is smart, they will draw on your expertise and experience. Younger managers may be threatened, though, when they realize you have a treasure trove of skills and tribal knowledge.
I reported to a Gen X’er who was savvy and sought my advice and counsel. I was ready for a career change but she had a longer runway than me. I was determined to help her succeed. She is the best boss I ever had.
A Richer Life Experience and Friends to End
Having a circle of friends and colleagues of a range of ages has enriched my life. I am thrilled when they seek out my advice or if they just want to hang out.
There’s a chance some of these younger folk will seek me out even in my advanced years. Hopefully, I can say, “Even though many friends are dead, I have others that are very much alive!”
Do you like to spend time with younger people? What contribution do you make to the lives of younger people and what do they add to yours?