Friday, November 11, 2011

Seasons Change with the Scenery

Since college I have always been fascinated by the Generation Theories of Strauss and Howe so I never pass up an article on it, particularly when it talks about my generation, Gen X.  Below is an article I found recently on - I thought I would share along with some of my personal experience and beliefs.

But First I have to say "Happy Nigel Tufnel Day," get it!  "This one goes to 11."  So Happy 11/11/11.

I am proud of my generation.  We have become savvy problem solvers because we are sandwiched between two Generational 600# gorillas (the Millenials and the Baby Boomers).  We have to adapt to the tastes of those 2 generations.  Furthermore, as the mid to upper level managers we are tasked to meet the productivity needs of a world that is growing while business is downsizing while constantly keeping up with technology that keeps up viable.

In the end I am glad that this study takes note that in my opinion in speaking about my Generation, Gen X - "the kids are alright!"  Sorry those were Baby Boomer lyrics but all Gen X has to offer is "you gotta fight, for your right, to paaaaaaaarrrrrty!"

As always I love to hear your thoughts!

Study Says Generation X is balanced and Happy (from CNN)

Fight for Your Right to Party!
A generation once labeled "slackers," detached and melancholic has grown up to find out that reality doesn't bite as much it seemed when they were younger.
To the contrary, most of the 84 million Americans ages 30 to 50 are "active, balanced and happy," according to the authors of "The Generation X Report," a research report from the University of Michigan's Longitudinal Study of American Youth.

The release is the first in a series of quarterly reports based on questionnaires, interviews and tests from 4,000 Gen X respondents who have participated in the study since 1987. The study defines Gen X as those born between 1961 and 1981, though others sources tag Gen X as those born starting in 1964.

"We hope that this series of reports will serve to correct some of the misunderstandings and misstatements about Generation X that have appeared in the media," The Longitudinal Study of American Youth says on its website. "Some commentators have characterized Generation X as being less successful than their parents and perhaps less ambitious than their parent's generation."
The study marks the latest focus on Gen X as the cultural spotlight gradually shifts away from retiring Baby Boomers. The analysis bolsters findings in a recent marketing study, "Gen X: Flirting With 40," which stated that Gen X has matured into a group of "technologically savvy, adventurous pragmatists." Recent media coverage of rants and reflections from Gen Xers in Gizmodo and The Atlantic has also generated intense discussion, fueling debate over whether a passing of the torch from Boomers is under way.

The stated mission of the study, which is funded by the National Science Foundation, is to write the history and monitor the future of Generation X. Here's some data from the report that may surprise you:

Myth #1: Gen Xers are slackers.
Reality: Generation X devotes more hours to work than average and pursues continuing education.
-- Compared to a national sample of all U.S. adults, Gen Xers are more likely to be employed and are working significantly more hours above average, according to the study. In Generation X, 86% is employed and 70% devote 40 or more hours to work each week. For those holding a doctorate or professional degree, that number shoots up to 50 or more hours. Also, 79% Gen X women work.
-- Kids from "The Breakfast Club" era weren't so strung out on emotional issues that they passed up learning: Half of Gen Xers have completed a post-secondary degree and 9% are enrolled in continuing education.

Ryan's Reality:  Looking back it seems like the 80's had a lot of business movies where the hero was always working mega-hours to get ahead.  For us Gen X'ers if we worked well beyond expectations there would be monetary reward and more importantly "the future's so bright, I gotta wear shades!"  I went straight through to grad school getting an MBa after a BS in Finance.  I worked full time in grad school to pay for tuition.  Early in my career 80+ hour weeks were the norm.  But thankfully it got me to a station in life where I can coast a bit now.  Although, my spare time is eaten up with my second job of Personal Transportional Specialist for my 2 daughters!  :)

Myth #2: Generation X is hopelessly single and pessimistic about marriage.
Reality: A higher percentage of Gen Xers stay married than Boomers, and most want to be married.
-- Having spent their formative years in the era of growing divorce rates (divorce peaked in 1980) might lead to speculation that Gen X would run away from marriage en masse. In reality, two-thirds of Generation X is married and 71% report having children in the home. Additionally, divorce has been declining since 1996, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
-- 83% of Gen Xers said finding the right person to marry and having a happy family life is very important.

Ryan's Reality:  I have spoken about this before.  There is a lot of socio-economic gravitational pull toward keeping marriages together today.  The economy is #1 and I think for Gen X'ers rebelling against "Me Generation" parents who did often divorce is #2 (although my parents are still married).  I think the other big force is our collective generational devotion to our kids which drives lifestyles that demand 2 incomes.  Simply put, divorce means no private school, no ballet, no soccer, no Disney vacation for the kids and I think that is a sacrifice most of us Gen X'ers are not willing to make.
Myth #3: Generation Xers are disengaged, existential isolationists.
Reality: Gen X is social.
--There's a reason Gen X is called the "Friends" generation. The report states that Gen X has extensive social, occupational and community networks outside of the immediate family. Two-thirds of respondents entertain friends for dinner or participate in group cooking at least once a month.
-- One in 3 Gen Xers is an active member of a church or religious organization, and 29% volunteer in their community.
-- 95% of Gen Xers report talking with friends or family on the telephone at least once a week, and 29% say they do so at least once a day.

Ryan's Reality:  Oh this is easy.  Yeah, Millennials made Facebook edgy and interesting but Gen X'ers made it a marketing and societal force.  Yes, like our Millennial Generation neighbors we like Social networking but I think we still enjoy face to face time.  Hence, Ashley Madison which is a wonderful way to mesh social networking with real time pleasure!  Oh and yes, not all of Ryan's personal time is spent on chasing women on AM, I have spent some time on non-profit and HOA boards - so as a generation I do believe we are community focused.

Myth #4: As former latch-key kids, Gen Xers are wimpy, neglectful parents.
Reality: About 84% of Gen X parents expect their children to earn at least a baccalaureate, and 39% expect their child to earn a graduate or professional degree.
-- 72% of parents of preschool children read to them three or more hours a week, and 83% of parents of secondary school students help with homework.

Ryan's Reality:  Regardless of political philosophy I think as a generation we are very traditional.  Because we were often not shielded I believe we have a strong desire TO shield.  And I think because of the challenges of modern life the family is often a safe haven of retreat in a quickly changing world.  I think the proliferation of cooking shows and interest in cuisine is an example of how we find ways to seek interests/hobbies and personal growth in a way to share and engage with family.

Myth #5: Generation X is depressed.
Reality: Generation X is actually pretty happy.
-Two-thirds of Generation X are satisfied with their job; 24% of these workers rated their job at 9 or 10 on the satisfaction scale.
- On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 meaning very happy, the median happiness score was 8, with 29% of Gen Xers saying they we very happy scoring a 9 or 10.
Ryan's Reality:  I think a lot of Gen X'ers achieved a good place before the economy hit the skids.  We are at a higher level in companies than Millenials so we have a little more job security and yet we are in the middle of careers and at peak productivity so we are a bit more viable than Baby Boomers.  And because of our upbringing we are savvy and tenacious and can problem solve our way to staying in the game.  The Ferris Buellers of the world tend to find ways to stay valuable!  I think despite taking some hits to our 401K's we are going to be OK.  So all things considered a lot to be happy about.  I think the big problem is that we will be on our own for retirement.  We are generationally small so in 25 years nobody is going to be concerned with Social Security the way we currently are with Baby Boomers.

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