How should we prepare to face the future?

"Playing dress-up was always great fun. My father always had his camera ready," says Sandi Ashton, whose father Herman Flocken took this photo and developed it in the bathroom. Sandi (in center) is flanked by sisters Anita (left) and Betty Flocken. Photo submitted by Sandi Ashton of Camp Verde.

"Playing dress-up was always great fun. My father always had his camera ready," says Sandi Ashton, whose father Herman Flocken took this photo and developed it in the bathroom. Sandi (in center) is flanked by sisters Anita (left) and Betty Flocken. Photo submitted by Sandi Ashton of Camp Verde.

It’s funny how goals change from one year to the next. When we’re kids, the goal seems always to be about TOMORROW. “Tomorrow I’ll start first grade,” or “Tomorrow it’ll be Halloween,” or “Tomorrow we’ll go visit Grandma.”

But as years move forward, we learn from experience. We begin to prioritize, dividing goals into short-term and long-term. A short-term goal, for instance, might be to do well on a test…the long-term goal is to graduate.

As we transition from school to career, marriage, and family planning, our goals intermingle. Should we take a better job if takes us away from our fiance’ or spouse, or from a growing family?

If you’re a Boomer, you’ve already answered these questions. If you’re younger, you may be facing them now.

Short-term

“While abstract,” said one respondent, “one goal would be to achieve and maintain peace in my life. I hate conflict, and…it makes me see how important it is just to live a peaceful live. I strive for peace on a daily basis.

“And, I want to have fun and be nice to myself. I would like to do something fun every single day. I have set up a system of weekly rewards that I really look forward to.”

A sports-minded Boomer emphasized that “I’d like to go to the Masters again, and to Fenway Park. Those are icon-like places for a sports enthusiast. And I’d like to have a single-digit golf handicap when I retire. I want to overcome years of bad swings.”

Contemplates R.R.: “I want to see Italy, Scotland, and Ireland to visit the land of my ancestors. There’s so much beauty to behold…and besides, why let the travel writers have all the fun?”

“I’d like to pay off two rent houses, live a healthy, active life, and be happy. These are my goals because they are simple and achievable,” G.M. told us.

“I want to continue to take some of the pressures off my husband financially,” said another focus group member. “He is taking care of expenses for his mother, who has been ill for a long time.”

Another Boomer, a teacher, told us “I would like to continue to learn about – and pursue – how education impacts kids, and what I can do to affect kids constructively.”

“I think retirement would be my next best career move,” laughed another panelist, “because I want to do all those things I haven’t had time to do for 40 years.

“After that, I would like to write a book to satisfy the urge to tell management what I think of them. After that, I would like to sell it…to make money.”

Lifetime motivations

Many of our focus group members – now in the midst of middle-age – offered profound long-term reflections.

One younger Boomer noted: “I’d like to raise my two little miracles to love and respect themselves, and each other.

“And I want to progress in my career to beyond just competence. I went from doing (working in a profession) to teaching it. I have a great opportunity to share a great love with another generation.”

“I’d love to play the piano, sail the rest of the way around the world, and save enough to someday be able to retire before I die,” said K.H.

Many of our panelists discussed living a healthy life. “I want to continue to practice a level of fitness of mind, body, and spirit,” said M.C. “I want to stay young so that I can enjoy good health with our son and his family when that comes along.”

“I’d like to live long enough, and be healthy enough, to be actively involved in the lives of my grandchildren,” said E.A.

“I’d like to have a nice retirement, including volunteer work, some earnings, and spend more time with my wife,” D.J. reflected.

Said one older Boomer: “I’d like to be on the planning committee of our 50th high school reunion, because that means I will live at least another ten years!”

“I’d like to remain self-sufficient as long as possible, to remain unencumbered by material things as much as possible, and to live to play with my grandchildren,” said M.F.

Added R.H. “I’d like to have grandchildren, and to live long enough to see my grandchildren. I’d like to spoil my grandchildren...just to get even with my children!”

“I want to be a really good grandmother and be able to teach my grandchildren the values I taught my own girls,” said P.M. “The last goal is to try to live a long, happy, healthy life by trying to take care of myself and my husband.”

“As one ages,” G.M. philosophized, “one should become more Thoreauesque…one chair for personal use, and one chair for company. You don’t need a complete living room suite any longer.”

“I want to live a life that models respect and concern for our planet, so that those who come after us – our kids and grandkids – have a quality of life that they deserve,” said another.

“My three goals,” G.L. told us, “are to continue focus on: physical fitness with diet and exercise; mental fitness…never stop reading and learning; and religious fitness…a true long-term investment!”

“I would like to stay as healthy as possible,” said L.A., “not give up on life, and grow old with vigor!”

Finally, several people told us they’d like to write a book. Noted one respondent: “Don’t all the old saws say ‘Write what you know?’ In that case, I’d be better off writing about the multitude of indignities that everyday life brings to bear on each of us.”

Universal thoughts

A.T. offered insight on planetary matters: “I want to continue being a responsible citizen of the earth, trying to lessen the deleterious effect of my presence here by ‘going green’ as much as possible.

“My only personal goal is to love and be loved. That’s all I can take with me into whatever the future holds.”

What did we learn?

1. As we move into our middle years, an orderly and peaceful lifestyle is important to many of us.

2. We expressed an interest in travel. Some would like to visit our nation’s historic regions and sports facilities. Others would like to travel internationally, perhaps to visit the regions from which their ancestors came.

3. Financial matters are important to us. We want to be as debt-free as possible. Some of us are financially caring for both our children and our parents.

4. Many of us want to continue learning and growing intellectually. And we would also like to share our knowledge with others.

5. Because of great advances in medical care, we hope for many more healthy years. With those years, we would like to acquire new skills and share more time with our families.

6. Many of us would like to simplify our lifestyles as we age.

7. We want to be responsible citizens of this planet, and to leave it in good condition for generations yet to come.

“I’d like to have grandchildren, and to live long enough to see my grandchildren. I’d like to spoil my grandchildren...just to get even with my children!”

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