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« CAREER ENTREPRENEURSHIP | Main | 2013 - THE YEAR OF CROSS-GENERATIONAL CONVERSATION »

DID BOOMERS MISS THE PASSION TRAIN? Time to reinvent?

This post is a follow up to one I wrote on October 5th titled Follow a Passion to Your Next Destination?

Did the Baby Boomer generation miss the passion train in the first half (at least) of their career life? Is that why they’ve been telling their children, mentees, students and coachees to “follow their passion”? Why was career passion not a central theme for the Boomers even though work has been a driving force in so many of their lives that one of the generation’s notable characteristics is “workaholism. 

Many of the Boomers’ parents lived through the Great Depression and because risk-averse. So they urged their Boomer children to go into respectable and seemingly secure professions or work for big companies that were expected to last and take care of their employees. Boomers may have taken risks in their personal lives (“drugs, sex and rock & roll”) in their youth, but less so in their career choices. And Boomers didn’t typically have mentors and coaches in early career to urge and guide them to follow a passion.

Further, once they made a comfortable living, given adult responsibilities, it was hard to give up the money and status.

In addition to these factors, Marc Miller of Career Pivot, a Boomer in his mid-50s who has found his work passion, cites less than supportive family structures and dysfunction. I don’t know that there were more dysfunctional families when Boomers were growing up, and the divorce rate was lower than today ori n the Gen Xers’ and Yers’ formative years. But it is true that parents were not as child-centric as today.

He also thinks that Boomers were more random in the degrees they sought, rather than strongly driven to a particular career other than what was expected of them. Many of them in college and graduate school had the goal of avoiding serving in the Vietnam War (there was a draft), which pursuing education at least helped delay.

After years in a career and perhaps delayed gratification, many Boomers have found their passion in work or are following a passion now to reinvent themselves in a new career.  Perhaps this reinforces Cal Newport’s point as expressed in my earlier blog post Follow Your Passion to Your Next Destination that you find your passion after working at something and finding you are really good at it.

If that has happened to you, please comment and share your story.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot     www.pdcounsel.com

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