I was listening to an interview with author Paul Taylor yesterday. In his book, The Next America, he makes a case that the U.S. is in the throes of a comprehensive demographic change and Boomers (10,000 of us are retiring every day) are challenged to create a new model for retirement. Emotional Intelligence (EQ) can help us maintain sense of well-being and emotional health while we navigate the largest social changes seen in America in a century.
The final step towards EQ competency is Managing Relationships. The goal, of course, is to take the accumulation of all the previous steps and apply them to navigating relationships with family, friends, neighbors and others in ways that are peaceful and reflective of a lifetime of experience.
At this point in the EQ journey, it is critical to determine how optimism can play a role in your life. EQ and optimism are interconnected. A person who expects the best possible outcome or possesses a hopeful attitude is more appealing to be around than one who has a negative approach to life. Boomers who are challenged with major life adjustments (finances, living circumstances, etc.) could do well to consider a hopeful attitude based on their history of problem solving. Optimism is a learned behavior and can lead to self-fulfilling expectations.
Self-care is a critical element in Managing Relationships. This important detail may upset the balance in families or relationships where the Boomer member has spent a lifetime as a caregiver. Letting family members know this is your time to explore, taste and experience the world within your financial capacity to do so, may feel a little selfish at first. But you will be glad you shifted the focus of your energy from others to yourself. Make a pledge to yourself: In difficult times, I will take good care of myself by_________________.
And finally, I am a huge proponent of life-long Learning. I have written several times about the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) -- over one hundred of them around the country offering free or inexpensive special interest classes for Boomers. I am currently on the board of the OLL/UNR and I marvel at the information, activities and personal connections these organizations encourage. The Osher Foundation is creating a new framework for communities to value and support people in a way that is fulfilling and validating. Seek out Lifelong Learning in your community at your local college, senior center or community building. If your community doesn't have such a program, start one! We are a species that thrives on socialization at every stage of life.
The Boomer generation has been defined by its enthusiastic willingness to change traditions and cause significant societal shifts at each benchmark of life. Forearmed with the tools to maintain our health and well-being, our age group will now prove the 'afternoon' of our lives is unlike any other experienced by previous generations. What we do and accomplish will be a tremendous legacy for our children and grandchildren.