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Tuesday, Jan 31, 2023

Second-Half Run

It’s tough to be a baby boomer – especially in Los Angeles. Americans are living longer than previous generations, but for baby boomers – individuals born between 1946 and 1964 – it’s a mixed blessing. Along with greater longevity, boomers also have higher rates of chronic disease, more disability and lower self-rated health than members of the previous generation at the same age.

That’s a double whammy in Los Angeles, which ranks among the top five counties in the country with the most boomers, but where vitality and youth are associated with “added value.”

As we age, many of us develop an uneasy feeling inside that there must more to life than what we are living. Ironically, many of us are compensating by working even harder, but find ourselves more unhealthy and unhappy. Studies show that rates of depression, and even suicide, are higher among baby boomers. Beverly Hills physician Albert Fuchs postulated, “(Baby boomers) certainly were disproportionately involved in the idealism (and radicalism) of the 1960s. It is certainly possible that many of them expected to build a very different world than the one they find themselves in.”

I believe that as boomers, we yearn for something significant and authentic – that has meaning beyond making money. Each day for the next 10 years, 8,000 baby boomers will turn 60. Since turning back the clock isn’t an option, what can we L.A. business leaders do to bring significance and joy to our “second half”?

To start with, those my age – at the midpoint in their lives – would benefit by hitting pause and taking stock. Essentially, we are in “halftime,” a period of rethinking who we are and what we do. It’s time to ask where are we in life, and whether there is a new course for the second half that could lead to greater meaning and fulfillment.

Living a life of meaning – of significance – is not at odds with working hard. Hard work is a generation-defining trait of baby boomers, especially we Angelenos who used our considerable talents to help grow the region’s aerospace, banking, entertainment and international trade industries.

But if we allow ourselves to consciously contemplate what brings us meaning, “halftime” can be an opportunity to envision a rewarding second half – in our careers and personal lives.

In my first half, I spent three decades in the electronics market providing leadership to various engineering, marketing and business groups around the world. While I was successful, this entailed more than 100 days a year of travel, running our division in Japan, 5 a.m. meetings, weekend work, etc. – you know the drill. Eventually the thrill of making another deal or beating the competition was gone, and I felt joyless and driven. When I did take vacations, I found it easier to stay connected to the office every day, take calls from work and stay up on my email than to really stop and let go.

But I did stop, and I entered into a phase of discovery when I asked myself questions such as: Who am I? Why am I here? What are my natural abilities and passions? How can I leverage what I have learned in my first half to make the biggest contribution to the world in my second half?

Over a period of time, and with the help of a structured thinking process, I developed a vision for my second half – a life mission statement that carried forward what I enjoyed the most about my first-half career: coaching others to help them achieve their goals. Along the way I discovered what many already know – that one of the keys to experiencing joy is in giving myself away to others. The changes made in your second half can profoundly impact your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual growth, if you are willing to slow down, listen and design a life of balance.

If every living thing God creates is unique, then it makes sense that every half-timer’s second-half calling would be unique as well. Although each person’s calling is unique, the process they go through to gain clarity about their second half is remarkably predictable. A way to sum this process up is to: 1) apply the skills that give you energy 2) to a cause that makes you mad, sad or glad 3) in an organization with the right role and culture for you.

Where that all intersects is where your greatest joy in life will be. It won’t come from closing another deal, buying something else or checking off your next bucket list item. It might come from pursuing new work at one of the county’s 36,735 nonprofits – the highest number in the country. Perhaps your joy will come from simply working fewer hours and spending more time with family.

In Los Angeles, land of youth, second-half significance is a life-transforming present we can give to ourselves and to others.

Rod Stewart is an L.A.-based master certified coach for the Halftime Institute, which offers a program in collaboration with Pepperdine University’s Graziadio School of Business and Management in Malibu.


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