Your Core Values
An Essay by James Gambone
When I was researching my book ReFirement: A Boomer’s Guide to Life after 50, I discovered that 57 million of my fellow and sister boomers, nearly 75% of that generation, came from families that were poor or working class or that operated small businesses or family farms. The parents of these boomers did not have a college education, and many were blue-collar.
The key core values that these parents taught their children often re-emerge when older boomers face the challenges of midlife and beyond. Traumatic midlife passages often force you to ask soul-searching questions such as “Am I really satisfied with life? How can I make my life more meaningful? What are my real core values?”
In my research, I identified three core values of boomers:
- A strong sense of belonging
- The drive to give something back
- The willingness to take risks
- Belonging. Psychologist Barbara Jensen wrote, “belonging, particularly to those who grew up in a working-class culture, is a powerful sense of identity that naturally and almost instinctively includes others around you, who wish that as you succeed, they will also. Belonging is not just thinking, abstracting, or discussing the world: it is jumping in with all your gifts and limitations.”
- Giving Back. I call this concept the first diversity value of the boomer generation. Professor Elizabeth Higginbotham, from the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice at the University of Delaware, grew up in an African-American community, and she writes about how men and women like herself have dedicated, or are now thinking of dedicating themselves, to giving something back to their communities. It is no accident that so many professionals who are minorities find themselves in the helping professions.
- Taking Risks. Thirty percent of boomers will not be able to retire in a traditional way because of inadequate savings. The risk-taking value that many young boomers learned growing up on the family farm or in the family business, will take on even more importance by the year 2010.
Core values are important. Ask yourself: “What are my core values?”
The ReFirement Group is the author of two books, ReFirement: A Boomers Guide to Life After 50 and The ReFirement Workbook.