As a Baby Boomer, I remember the release of Alvin Toffler’s Future Shock, although I didn’t read his later book. Even though I was much more influenced by Ayn Rand, there were two segments of Toffler’s book that stayed with me as I watched the lives of my generation unfold. The first, interestingly enough, was his explanation that we would see an increase in the divorce rate among seniors as people lived longer and ultimately determined that 20, 30, etc. years with a partner did not mean you should spend another lengthy segment together. I have a close friend who was emotionally devastated when this happened with her parents and as she was trying to comprehend what her mother had passed on as to the “why”, it tracked almost exactly with those passages from Toffler.
The other, more pertinent to me, is the aspect of multiple careers, which was not the norm when he wrote the book. “Back in the day”, you entered a career, usually with one company or organization, and stayed with it until retirement. Oh sure, there were people who moved around, but getting that “gold watch” for retirement was the standard. I don’t want to get bogged down in the economic aspect of why so many companies moved away from planning for long term employees, but I do want to discuss the concept of setting up for more than one career. This applies differently to Baby Boomers and Gen-X. For us, it often means one 20-30 year career, then it breaks along different lines of a 10-15 year (could be less), part time or freelance, or entering into a personal business. In some cases, it may be all of the above. For our children, it may be the recognition early one that a specific field will lead to another. For example, despite our concern for our son’s passion for dance, we came to see that with the short length of performing life, that paves the way for continuing to teach, choreography, production, physical therapy, and so forth.
In other cases, there is the desire to go multiple different paths and you wonder if there is any connectivity. It can be a situation of an individual “not being able to find a direction”, or it can be an individual enters into whatever field and discovers other opportunities through networking; some of which may not be related. There is also the economic consideration of contributing to a 401K (if that’s an option) or establishing an IRA and reducing/holding debt down. This, by the way, is where the “Bank of Mom and Dad” may very well be needed since transition between jobs does come with expenses and tapping into a 401K or IRA has definite drawbacks.
I absolutely do understand that career changes are not always by choice, but that is a different post.