Sunday, June 11, 2006

Am I a product of my generation?/Fathers

I know I don't blog often here, but I do have more deep thoughts than I share here -- just have not found the time to share.

Caught 2 TV shows recently that made comments about "baby boomers" that made me think. The first was with Tom Brokaw on a talk show. The comments revolved about the evolving role of "Dads" primarily, but also about "bread winners". Dads from the prior generation - the first half of the 20th C - were "content" to work one job all their lives - to do what ever it took to put food on the table and a house over their heads. As a result they were uninvolved with the raising of the children on a "daily" level. They also did not understand the need for individuality that so many of the "baby boomers" exhibited.

If you were raised in the first half of the 20th C., your priorities were different. I look at my parents and know that while they prized happiness, personal security was more important. They both made sacrifices to ensure that we had more than the basics and that I was given every possible opportunity "to get ahead". Dad worked 3 jobs most of his life to ensure that Mom and I were very well cared for. It was a point of pride for him and he did it with love for his family.

When I chose to leave my job at the Bank, making a salary that was more than my Dad ever made, and go into consulting, it was hard for my Dad to understand. He was concerned for my security. We talked about the fact that they had given me a good education, a belief in my own abilities, and that in a worst case scenario I could temp and still make expenses. Although I must have had part of my Dad in me; as I had put by a years worth of expense money and had already lined up a 2nd years worth of contracts before I left the Bank. While Dad wasn't happy about it, he understood my need and lovingly gave me his support.

It is interesting that my uncle, my father's brother did not understand. He saw it as "being financially irresponsible" and that I could not be trusted with money. That I needed to have someone else as overseer. It was the "security" priority that I was missing in his view.

The Brokaw discussion went on to comment that "baby boomers" wanted individuality and "happiness" more. This resulted in an unwillingness to work as hard as the prior generation at a job, unwillingness to just take any job, bouncing around between companies, and lots of people who retired early. They wanted to do something more with their time than work.

I must say that I resemble this remark. I left the Bank and haven't looked back since. I want more from my life than the job. I am not the job. My happiness is more important and "the job" is not where I find my happiness.

On PBS I happened on Reclaiming Your American Dream with Will Marre, which you can find here . In it he asks "Are you living your dream life?". Of course he then goes on to talk about how you can identify what it is, but mostly it is aking - what makes you happy? Then you evaluate each portion of your life and what you can do to improve it. A lot of the "improvement" is realizing the need to change the way each of us thinks about our world.

While I am not living my dream life, I have taken steps toward it - spouse/relationship and where I have choosen to live (location and the home itself). So as a late baby boomer (born in 1955) - a member of the "me" generation, am I just a representative of the era I live in? I would like to think that I'm more unique than that, but maybe I'm not.

It appears that since I've been out of school, another sub-discipline of social psychology has developed - the field of Positive Psychology. In short - happiness. The U of Penn seems to be a leader in this area. Guess I'll need to check this out .

One of the hardest things in life is managing personal change. Hopefully all our lives we continue to grow and develop. Sometimes it is the result of external events and sometimes internal. This last year has been one of change for me and it seems to be continuing at a fairly rapid rate. However, this also means that there are lots more uncertainties in my life. I look toward tools that give me feedback. Whether I accept the feedback as true or not, is a separate process.

My maternal grandmother, who was the impetus for this blog, was one of the most personally insightful and interesting people that I'd ever met. I'd like to think that I take after her.