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Plan for Failure Vol 31

December 20, 2013

If the only waxing you do is for your car, you must be a Boomer !

What if the basic Boomer question of our time is what to do next, which is the same question our kids have ?  What if the great society issue is that we have the same question, and are looking for our own answers, at the same time ? Can this be a good thing ?

One reason why I do this blog is because I am a bored Boomer, and I see people around me glazing into the same looking glass, trying to get by the impending retirement mid-life decision. In trying to practice what I preach, I have been trying new things, to see what fits, what feels like an interesting future, what ignites a passionate response. I do need to bring in some financial compensation over time, as I can not retire to anywhere near the level I desire at this time. I understand that I do not need to make money right away, but soon. So, either I look for work, or look for the passion, with the hope that they will not be mutually exclusive. My issue with doing employment searches and looking for a hobby/lifestyle choice at the same time is that it has ended badly for me in the past. Like most people, I focused on the employment work, to the detriment of the other potential searches I could do.  Ergo, the blog.

Passion may be too strong a descriptive to use to describe my goal. Kinda feels like I have to hit a homerun right off the bat. Really, there is nothing wrong with trying many things out first.

Actually, trying many things and failing at most is probably the smartest thing Boomers could do at this stage in our development. The old adage is that if you “fail to plan, you are planning to fail”. Sounds like an insurance ad jingle if you ask me. There is a great article in the New York Times, by Costica Bradatan, that this may be the perfect time to think in terms of how good failure actually is for us. His arguments are philosophical, but struck a nerve with me because Boomers have spent their whole lives tying to succeed, hiding failure, striving to blame someone or something else for mistakes, effectively ignoring or diminishing the lessons that we could have learned. When was the last time you “bit off  more than you could chew ” ? Decades ?

The article makes the point that we all fail at some point, so is now the time for Boomers to recognize that we are not old dogs, and can learn new lessons ?  Its in our design to die, after all. So, looking at my quest to try new things, I have been looking at my failure to find passion right away as a failure, instead of how I should be experiencing the moment, as a triumph of failure. So, I need to Plan for Failure more !

My three doors, as I call the origional quest for passion, involved trying out an instrument, a language, or further education. There are many doors, or opportunities for  fulfillment, some harder to open than others, some unavailable, and some just fucking impossible. That’s right, Boomers have choices to make.

Although I can rationalize it for hours, and have to others and myself, I failed at the saxophone. I love music, but can’t seems to enjoy the work learning an easy instrument. I looked at learning a language, focusing on Spanish as the most fruitful considering the travel I would like to do long term, but  realize that unless I have an environment where I will use it periodically, my chances of success of limited – did I just go and plan for success again ? Currently, I am looking at some further education as the next door.

There are many options, and I salute those Boomers who set up and run charities, spend time helping poor people in far away places build homes or schools, or volunteer in their neighborhoods to help others. All great choices, and if they find you passionate at the end of the day, congratulations. Personally, I am working on myself first, as I am a Boomer after all !

Searching for answers does seem to be a shared intergenerational quest today. Can two generations do this at the same time ? Probably not, thus the perceived inequality – the conversation sounds like “don’t mess with our searching, and we will let you sleep on the couch ! Let us figure it out, and we will leave you alone for now. If you try to push your agendas – if you even have one – we will stomp you until we get a path forward first. You can do your stuff – new technologies, training, education, social stuff like gay marriage, just leave us be for now.  We are confused, and have no other answers for you at the moment.  How can we guide when we are blind, or better said, still in a fog ourselves. You have all the options – more options than we have – so give us time to work things out ” !!!

Do we have our kids best interests at heart, or is this a factor we need to add to our decision mix ?  What are our kids best interests anyway ? How amusing would it be if we are teaching our kids to “Plan for Failure”, and learn the life lessons therein, because we are afraid to !

Next time on Boomers – WTF !, why you are not the person you expected to be, and why you could eventually look back on this time with remorse.

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