Time is never time at all
You can never ever leave
Without leaving a piece of youth
And our lives are forever changed
We will never be the same
The more you change, the less you feel
Born roughly between the mid-1960s and the early 1980s, Generation X are the children of the 1970s and 1980s, a time of significant shifting societal values. Gen Xers were sometimes called the "latchkey generation” - referring to returning home from school to an empty home and needing to use the door key. This was a result of increasing divorce rates and increased maternal participation in the workforce prior to widespread availability of childcare options outside the home. We were the MTV generation, and with the advent of the home computer, the pioneers of the digital era. Now as we navigate the landscape of middle age, we encounter our own distinct set of challenges, introspections, and opportunities. This journey provides a moment to consider success, social standing, and the influence of thought.
The Success and Status Perception of Gen X
Growing up, Gen X witnessed the 1980s corporate boom, the 1990s tech bubble, and of course the collateral and human toll of the ensuing economic crashes. We observed the decline of our parents' generation's established, safe career routes and the emergence of the entrepreneurial mindset. For many, success meant moving up the corporate ladder, buying real estate, and securing their financial security in a world that was changing quickly.
When approaching middle age, people often evaluate the exterior indicators of success—promotions, homes, and other status symbols, against a rapidly expanding digital era that is characterized by the emergence of social media and a shifting socioeconomic landscape. Some people come to the realization that, despite their accomplishments, they are still searching for something more meaningful in life.
Finding Meaning and Purpose
When a generation reaches middle age, many look beyond the material. "What is my legacy?" they may ask themselves. "Have I made a difference?" "Were my choices worthwhile?" For many it becomes essential to seek out a greater sense of meaning through involvement in the community, creative and philanthropic endeavors, and our most important relationships.
That life can change
That you're not stuck in vain
We're not the same, we're different
The Fixed vs. Growth Mindset
The idea of fixed vs. growth mindsets proposed by the renowned Stanford psychologist, Dr. Carol Dweck provides a fascinating angle from which to examine this midlife introspection: Dr. Dweck studies human motivation. She spends her time studying why people succeed (or don’t) and what is within our individual control to foster success and lifelong resilience. Her theory of the two mindsets and the impact they can have on potentially very divergent outcomes is incredibly powerful.
Fixed Mindset: People with this perspective think their skills and aptitudes are permanent. A Gen X'er with an unbending viewpoint could experience remorse or have the thought, "It's too late for me to change," as they approach middle age.
Growth Mindset: Those that adopt a growth mindset understand that intelligence and talent are viewed as traits that can be improved. A Gen X person with this mentality sees middle age as just another chapter, one that is full of opportunities to grow, change, and adapt.
It can be argued that Gen X is well positioned to benefit from a growth mindset because we experienced a world without the internet and have adapted to the tech-driven present. Our capacity for resilience is highlighted by how well we have adjusted to societal changes like the transition from analog to digital and from traditional norms to modern lifestyles.
In the resolute urgency of now
And if you believe there's not a chance
Using the Growth Mindset to Redefine Success
A growth mindset in middle age for Gen X may involve changing career paths, pursuing lifelong passions, or simply finding pleasure in the small details of life. This mindset often involves a change from simply pursuing external success indicators to using those that are more internal. Many of us have found mentorship opportunities, place a higher value on relationships and community than self-image, and would prefer to invest in experiences rather than tangible assets. This is it, our unique opportunity to write our future and our respective roles within it.
As I have written countless times before, financial planning is a journey and not a transaction. It is not simply about asset management or life insurance but rather having a plan to navigate the multitude of variables that could impact each of us all daily. It is about leveraging the positives and blessings and insulating ourselves and our loved ones from life’s potentially negative ripple effects. It is about proceeding with purpose and continuing to evolve in pursuit of our best selves. I urge you all to engage a planner, to write this plan and wake each day with the confidence and the desire to fulfill it.
We'll crucify the insincere tonight
We'll make things right, we'll feel it all tonight
We'll find a way to offer up the night
The indescribable moments of your life
The impossible is possible tonight
Believe in me as I believe in you
This August, I had the opportunity to see The Smashing Pumpkins at PNC Arts Center in Holmdel, NJ. They are an iconic Gen X band and 30 years out remain a wonderful example of evolution and the growth mindset. Billy Corgan’s lyrics in Tonight, Tonight are truly inspiring and were written as a plan, a promise to his future self and a reminder to us all that anything is possible. In our adult lives, Generation X has undergone profound transformation from so-called slackers to technological innovators and our natural adaptability and experience may just act as a guide as we negotiate the uncertainties and reflections of middle age. With that said, we have an opportunity to redefine not only our own notions of success, but also the way that society views middle age and beyond by adopting a mindset that emphasizes lifelong evolution, growth and reaching for a better tomorrow.
Authored by: Rob Armstrong
Songwriters: William Corgan
Tonight, Tonight lyrics © Cinderful Music
By accessing the link above you are leaving the Armstrong Advisors website. Armstrong Advisors is not responsible for the content of this link or any other content accessible via YouTube.