OK Boomer. How to Sit Out the Generation Label Wars by Adopting One of Your Own.

We’ve all seen the OK Boomer memes now. Maybe you’ve wondered just what they mean. Maybe you’ve laughed. And maybe you’re starting to get frustrated like me. Baby Boomer. Generation X. Millennial. Gen Z. Can’t we all just get along? We absolutely can if we agree to join up as one generation: the perennial generation.

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Are You a Millennial?

Is having meaningful work important to you? Do you appreciate opportunities for collaboration and freedom to decide the best path for you? Would you like to like to work in a fun environment? If so, then obviously you’re a millennial because, according to conventional wisdom, these “new” values are important only to you.

Or Are You a Boomer or Gen X?

If you’re a baby boomer, then obviously you are competitive, relish long work hours and are extremely focused on your goals. And if you’re a Generation X-er, you clearly can’t related to any of this because what you want more than anything is work-life balance.

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Generational Labels are Meaningless

Well, guess what? This is bullshit. My born-in-the-most-technologically-savvy-generation-ever Gen X daughter was astonished when I showed her how to add and divide numbers using Excel. She just had never learned how to do that. She’s also extremely competitive and the hardest worker I know.

I know several women my age with blue and pink hair who rock awesome tattoos. No one I know wants to be defined by labels or forced to conform to expectations caused by the year they were born.  We’re all so much bigger than that.

It’s Time to Become the Perennial Generation

It’s time to stop dividing ourselves with labels and get together based on our shared values, regardless of age. That’s why I was so taken with Gina Pell’s essay where she puts forth the revolutionary idea that we can all stop segregating ourselves by generation.

Instead, we can choose to join a new group, the Perennials.

What is the Perennial Generation?

Does this description of Perennials sound like you?

We are ever-blooming, relevant people of all ages who live in the present time, know what’s happening in the world, stay current with technology, and have friends of all ages. We get involved, stay curious, mentor others, and are passionate, compassionate, creative, confident, collaborative, global-minded risk takers who continue to push up against our growing edge and know how to hustle.

Gina’s idea might have been a bit ahead of its time – it came from an article titled, Your Obsession With Millennials Won’t Survive 2017, but I’m here to say we need to take a second look at this and stop our knee-jerk reaction to generational differences on both sides.

Perennial Generation Values

I saw a recent thread on my Facebook feed inspired by an article about Away Luggage’s CEO, who had recently stepped down after reports of abusive behavior, which was post after post of stories that all started with “Those kids think that was abusive behavior, lemme tell you about abusive behavior…” The subtext? We put up with this and they should too.

You guys! No! We should have banded together and supported each other like these adults did and refused to accept anything less than full respect.

And here’s the thing. These millennials in the workplace? These are our kids, acting on the values we taught them. When I found out I was pregnant, the first book I bought was Your Child’s Self-Esteem by Dorothy Briggs. I wanted to raise a responsible, happy child with a strong feeling of self-worth. In other words, a kid who would grow up into an adult who wouldn’t take abusive behavior from a boss.

These are the kinds of values we should take on for ourselves as midlife women. The next time someone tries to condescend to you because they assume something about you because of your age, try firmly and maybe not-so-politely letting them know that you deserve respect. After all, you’re a perennial.

If you need some help commanding respect, try this.

Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges | Dr. Amy Cuddy | IDEAcademy 2018
Watch this video on YouTube.

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OK Boomer. How to Sit Out the Generation Label Wars by Adopting One of Your Own. 1

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4 COMMENTS

  1. It’s really important to bust through restrictive labels, but our human brains cope best when we can place ideas in categories. I researched generational theories for my masters’ thesis and we do belong to a particular generation whether we exhibit all or just some of the traits and characteristics in each. As a younger boomer, I definitely have some X-er preferences but I know that spending my formative years in the 70s shaped my values a particular way, leaning toward the boomer side. Yes, they can be changed, adjusted or embraced, but it is nice to know that cultural influences we grew up with, did shape our beliefs somewhat. I like the idea of perennials!

    • Thanks Terri. I agree that we are definitely shaped by the times in which we grow up but it’s nice to know that we can continue changing with the times even as we age. As someone who accidentally dated a note yesterday 11-22-63, I definitely get how you are forever changed by the experiences you went through.

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