Work Design for Baby Boomers – Change or Transition?

I have recently had a birthday!  The age I have turned is not open for discussion… but   like many of my friends and clients it certainly is a reminder that I am now definitely my parents age!  I find this quite curious as like most baby boomers I still feel so much younger than my age describes!   However, the conversation I have with other baby boomers these days is that whether we like it or not our age is having an impact on our life and work design.  Many describe being tired of the rate race, the work related travel, the compromise required to work with the younger generations, the endless battle to relate to work ethic different from our own and so on and so forth.  So there is definitely a shift in our thinking which probably does come with the transition into our baby boomer years.   This conversation inevitably leads to ‘what next?’ or ‘what would I do?’ or just setting some sort of deadline in the future to make a decision for their work design to be different.

So how do you get to the point where you make a decision and commitment for your work design to be different?  I tend to think that our head, heart and gut are usually in alignment when it’s the right time to make some changes.  It may not be an ease back but rather a change in direction with the freedom that changing our focus to ‘could’ do things differently rather than ‘should’ do things differently makes.  For many this is a scary transition in not only our work design but also our physical environment.

William Bridges, author of Transitions, differentiates between change and transition in a way that I believe is useful for us as baby boomers. Getting a new boss is a change, moving to a different house is a change, losing a job is change – a huge one.  Transition, on the other hand, is the process of letting go of the way things used to be and then taking hold of the way they subsequently become. Transition  is a three-phase process – ending, neutral zone, beginning again.

There are two types of transition – Reactive – triggered by a specific, external change and Developmental – produced by a natural, inner unfolding of some aspect of who we areBaby Boomers experience this developmental transition when it occurs to us that our Life and Work Design no longer works for us.  It can be as simple as that!  A career or lifestyle that used to mean something to us doesn’t mean so much anymore. Sometimes we put it down to an event or a person but really that’s usually more an excuse than a reason.  We are simply letting go of an old outlook or due to life and circumstances, we are just not connected to the way we were anymore.  If we want our work design to be different, we have to acknowledge that it is not simply going from one change to another, but rather a process of Transition.  Something has to end. Then we move into that very nerve racking neutral zone where we don’t necessarily have the answers but we have to learn to trust that we are in the right space to design the next phase of our personal and working life.  Once we have created this design, then we begin again.

In summary…it’s ok to be unsettled as a baby boomer!  Invite transition in and embrace the three stages to create an ending, a neutral zone, and a new beginning.


Working your way through these processes takes courage!  Be kind to yourself and feel free to contact Patti, if you would like a Coach to partner you on this journey. (Patti offers a no obligation 30minute FREE phone coaching session to get you started).



About Patti Gwynne

Patti Gwynne is an ICF Credentialed Leadership and Executive Coach based in Auckland.

Working your way through these processes takes courage! Be kind to yourself and feel free to contact Patti, if you would like a Coach to partner you on this journey.
(Patti offers a no obligation 30minute FREE phone coaching session to get you started).

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