- Wise Words -
Another entitled generation or
just "browned out"?
by fergus mellon
Millennials are supposedly the entitled generation, but what about portions of Gen-X?
Generation X spans from the early 1960s to the early 1980s and so is a very broad group with very different reference points. Over the past couple of months, I have been thinking more and more that those from the end of Generation X, the 1970s onwards whom we can call "End-X", are not so different from the Millennials.
Those who were born in the 1970's came of age when many of the benefits that the Early (or lucky) Generation-Xers could take for granted were ending. Free or "reasonable" tuition, affordable housing, defined benefit pensions (based on final salaries) over. To add to this, retirement ages are jumping (70, anyone?), slow economic growth during peak earning years (gotta love the Great Recession), competition from Gen Y and… the “Always On” workplaces.
It is no wonder if End-X feels slightly duped! It wasn’t meant to be this way. So, what are they doing to deal with the new reality?
Some are clearly voting for the Bernies, Corbyns or Trumps in the hope that some of the past can be resurrected through bigger government and projects such as building walls on the border or improving our roads (will leave you to determine which is the more positive approach!). Some (the quiet majority?) are just keeping their heads down and grinding it out.
Others, are reaching for a pause button and are taking time out from the rat race. A quick survey of those in my network revealed the following “Pause Pioneers”:
When I ask what is going on the answer I get is “everyone is exhausted, you know that”.
If you are 40-ish now you will have been working for 20 or so years but instead of having just another 20 to go it looks like it will be at least another 30 years of this. (For more on this topic take a look at “The 100-Year Life: Living and Working in an Age of Longevity”)
So, is this all just “Entitled End-X”? I will leave that to you to judge but my thought at least is that maybe instead of being entitled it is doing what other generations have done. Making the most of it. Dealing with the stresses of modern life but with a Reagan-esque twist. The End-X are funding this ourselves without taxpayer support and taking the risk that taking time out will also work out!
Related column on Brown- and Burn-out: "Professionally Overwhelmed? Try a Mental Refresh"
Editors Note: Written in 2016 before the term “Xennials” was a thing!