From one boomer to another

coffee cup with love my peeps written on it held by a white hand

Deb Brown with a side eye and a smile dressed in black print top, grey hairI’m a boomer, born between 1946 and 1964. Many of us boomers are past retirement age or close to it. That doesn’t mean we are retiring! Many are still working in some capacity, or active in our communities through volunteering. 

We’re used to doing things a certain way, following an old hierarchy and bureaucracy that we grew up with. I’m here to tell you it’s time to do things in a new way. 

There’s a lot we can still learn. New ways of doing things, new ways of communicating, new ways of being in the world. There’s a lot we can let go of too.

Reinvention is the name of the game

Small-town folks are great at getting a lot done with very little. So are we boomers! We’ve had to reinvent ourselves multiple times, a lot like our communities have had to reinvent themselves. 

Those who can let go of the old ways are going to enjoy their boomer years even more. The days of serving on committees for years at a time are over. No one has the time or inclination to meet in dreary rooms to discuss boring details and take years to get things done. 

Now we volunteer where we are needed, as needed. We get outside and plant flowers in the park instead of meeting in a boardroom to discuss planting the flowers in the park. We share a cup of coffee (or a beer) with a few friends and figure out how to save that historic movie theater. Instead of going in front of the city council and expecting the city to do it, we start the process. We raise the money in small donations. We crowdfund. We work with the entire community, not just a few select people. 

We must keep learning

I’ve been a lifelong learner, as I am sure you have, from one boomer to another. When I moved home to Iowa to help care for my aging parents, I took the opportunity to sit down and learn how to use social media, back in 2008.  I’ve made many new good friends on Twitter since then. Including Becky McCray whom I now do business with. I’m still learning new things. I hope that you are too. 

I’m not afraid of artificial intelligence, it’s a tool that will make our lives easier. I remember ‘back in the day’ our parents never trusted computers. Today we take them for granted. AI is like that too. Learn it, play with it, check it to make sure it’s right. But remember, it’s a tool – not a takeover. 

Listening is a secret weapon

I know boomers who get upset when young people won’t take them seriously. Here’s what I’ve found out: we need to listen to what they have to say. Really listen. Not just listen to see what our answer back will be. Then when you understand them, encourage them to do the things they want to do. Not do it your way, but do it their way. Ask them questions. Find out how they want you to help. Help, not take over

Be Idea Friendly

There’s an easier way to do things, we call it the Idea Friendly Method. I’ve learned it and used it as a leader in a local chamber. I use it in all of my visits to communities. I teach it to others, and I see the value that it brings to the work we do. Big secret: it works everywhere, not just at a job. 

What is it? Think about your big idea, that thing you want to accomplish or would like to see happen. 

Gather Your Crowd – Bring together those people you know who might be interested in your idea. NOT at a meeting! Just get together, maybe over coffee or a meal or at the park while you watch your grandkids play. Then talk about it. 

Build Connections – You’ll find that you don’t know everything about how to get your idea going. But there are lots of people who know other things than you. How can they help?

Take Small Steps – get started right away. In small but meaningful ways. Who can you text or call to answer a question? Where could you try out a tiny version of your idea? How can others be involved in small ways? Get to work, and have fun.

From one boomer to another, we may be retiring, but we’re not done yet.