Living life as a member of Generation X
A recent statistic from the U.S. Department of Labor has sparked some interest in generational differences. By 2015, the largest age group in the United States’ work force will be those in their 20s. There are currently three vastly different generations that have some popular and stereotypical labels concerning their work ethic and values: the Millennials, born 1982-1995; Generation X, born 1965-1981; and Baby Boomers, born 1946-1964.
Never mind that everyone is special and has their own unique qualities; you lump any generation together and you can come up with some pretty accurate personality and work characteristics.
I am a member, barely, of Generation X. It has been pointed out that Generation X is forgotten, unmemorable, not worth spotlighting. We are okay with that. We are too busy to worry about silly labels, and here’s why.
We know we are the essential bridge between two me-centered generations. If it were not for us, a whole lot of businesses, offices and work venues would be looking to hire mediators between the Baby Boomers and Millennials.
Those in the Millennial category are part of the “everybody gets a trophy, everybody loves us, praise us, look at the end result not how long it took to get there, we are unique and special” generation. I know, how annoying. Generation X, as coworkers and fellow members of society, can work with, or at least around, that.
It is tempting to point to technology skills as the sole difference between these groups, but that is not the case. There are some very good things about Millennials and we get that too. We see their positive contributions such as their fearlessness in tackling a project or idea. They are not intimidated by failure. We see that they judge others, whether it be their employer, a politician, or a friend – not by their words, but their actions.
We can work with Baby Boomers – the type A personality of the work force. We understand their views on following rules, doing things by the book, and their incredible drive to succeed. Studies have described Baby Boomers as loyal and work-centric. To them, success is seen through salaries and the time spent to get them. “The job comes first” is the cornerstone of this group’s attitude. We are familiar with and respect the workforce playbook too, but with growing focus on family and one’s own well being, those values are being tweaked by us Generation X-ers.
Now, look at all we know about Millennials and Baby Boomers. We have heard and read about these groups of people our whole lives. Millennials (who by the way, are also known as Generation Y) who were born with a silver iPod in their hand. Baby Boomers, who work like madmen to buy their own silver iPod. What about us? What about Generation X? The latchkey kids, the kids with two homes because their parents split up, the kids who made the first iPods?
We are taking care of ourselves just fine, thank you. There wasn’t much in the way of high tech learning opportunities for us before we joined the workforce, but that’s okay. We took care of it and taught ourselves.
We were told to get a job and stick with it for 30 years, make it priority numero uno, and then we would be successful. Well, that worked out well for the Baby Boomers, with their highest divorce rate in history, didn’t it? We decided to try to find a balance between work and home.
The Baby Boomers have almost made it and are on the fast track to retirement. The Millennials are still settling into their work grove. We cannot waste time lamenting on ourselves and wishing folks were talking about our skill set, or and the way things used to be. It is what it is, and we will deal with it.
Family, mortgages, and establishing a solid retirement base while balancing a career is taking up a lot of our time. Generation X is stuck in the middle, which, as it turns out, is not a terrible place to be. As the bridge between two “me” generations, we have figured out how to please the masses and keep things going. Managing is our forte. We can delegate and use the best of both worlds to make things work.
World events, politics, the economy, psychology, medical advances, and parents’ attempts to make things better for their kids shape every generation into something vastly different from the next. Some look at this as progress, others as the ruination of society. My fellow Generation X-ers and I know life goes on and we will be right beside you bridging any gaps that come up.