Today we put a new spin on “down and out.” We’re not talking about being knocked out. We’re saying “down and out” is the way to go — the way we want you to focus, especially if you’re a boomer. Catch boomers need to go down and out.
This brilliant insight came from one of the millennial respondents to our recent “Your Participation Matters” questionnaire. The insight was directed towards boomers. In his observation, he said,
“I know there are older people who might like me, and me them, but generally speaking, it appears older people naturally go up in age and inward in focus. I do not think there is an intent in them to go downward in age and outward in focus.”
He’s absolutely right. As a boomer today, I want to go up (in age) and in (where it is comfortable) and I do not think I am alone. As the world gets more and more chaotic and solutions seem to slip out of our grasp, the temptation is to go upward in age (meaning your age and older), and inward in terms of involvement, meaning protective, safe, more isolated; sticking to only what you know, around people you understand.
Everyone finds it easier to relate to their own peers. You’ve gone through similar experiences — the same pop culture, the same world events, the same questions and concerns, you laugh at the same jokes. Boomers look at the world suffering from greenhouse gases, climate change, rising ocean levels, wildfires, water shortages, depleting fossil fuels, terrorism, QAnon, Antifa; no wonder you want to sock away your retirement and watch Netflix.
But millennials look at the very same world and they have nowhere to go except to feel anxious and alone. This is the world they live in. This is their outlook, offering more questions than answers.
Can you believe Chandler wants to put us in a retirement home? That’s what he wants to do with his first fortune. He’s serious about this. I think that’s really sweet of him, and I am very moved that he would be thinking about our future like that. But this is him speaking from his perspective, the way he sees life. He wants to put us somewhere safe. He wants us away from the destruction he sees.
Along with older millennials, Chandler feels in tune with events around the world and recognizes his place in it. When exploring this generation’s well-being—spiritually, professionally, relationally—our findings reveal a generation of driven adults who are wary and weary; wrestling with questions; longing for deeper relationships; and facing significant societal, professional and personal obstacles. Yet, we also found that faith is one important factor associated with their well-being, connection, and resilience.
When — or, for many, if — us boomers choose to go downward in age and outward in scope, we need to enter into a relationship with millennials with sincerity. They need concrete exchanges from people they can trust, and meaningful opportunities to contribute with each other, and maybe, within a community.
If we boomers are willing to go downward in age and outward in focus, we will find millennials are full of questions, which is why we strongly recommended that we boomers do a lot of listening when entering into a relationship with a millennial.
So a word to the wise, boomers: Go down and out. Learn about millennials; put yourself into their shoes. Best of all, build relationships with them. Befriend them. Walk alongside. Listen. Understand the world from their perspective. You’ll be surprised to find how much you have in common.