Planning for Tomorrow

We just had our quarterly meeting of analysts to hammer out the Q3 trends. This is a routine occasion in our office, where we take information pulled from our software and lay out the topics that have shown the highest rate of change. The result will be a quarterly report that we use with clients, put into newsletter form, and use to track future change—not to mention that it gives us a chance to put a stake in the ground and claim when we saw it first.

By the time an hour had gone by we had identified 28 topics for further research, to see if further evidence justified the rating. I wanted it to be 29.

You see, we each bring our list to the table, and several of the ideas I’ve been tracking made it to the next-to-final cut. But there is one that I keep bringing to the table, with some justification, but it never makes it onto the final list. The topic is aging Boomers—more narrowly, what Boomers are doing to prepare for the future. It’s a trend—yes, I’m going ahead and identifying it as one—that is only going to grow.

Baby Boomers are generally identified as those born between 1946 and 1964. That means a significant portion of them have already retired and are in that next stage, whatever that means. Mid-range Boomers are watching them carefully: Are they happy with when they retired? What medical plan did they choose? When did they start drawing Social Security? Are they able to travel, as they thought? How is their health holding up? There are hundreds of these questions, and the answers are starting to populate social media, entertainment, technology, healthcare—in fact, all of the TEDW categories. However, unless you are a Boomer, it’s not a topic in which younger people seem to want to engage. Our team is a fair mix of mostly Millennial with some Gen Z and Gen X scattered in. They aren’t planning for the future much—they’re too used to living in a day-by-day world.

  • We captured something that turned the retirement discussion back into Millennial angst, making the discussion about their own “affordability crisis.” This group lives in the belief that they will either work ‘til they die, or society will have to come up with innovative solutions.
  • Another article from the same source talked about how Boomers are putting their luxury estates up for sale, but younger generations are having none of it. After all, why put time and money into something that you’ll just have to sell anyway…that’s the mindset.
  • This reminded us that technology is planning for the future, even if we aren’t. The article says, “With the number of adults older than 85 expected to triple in the next 30 years, technological solutions could become essential to augmenting eldercare, whether it’s at an individual’s home or in a group facility.

All of this shows us that it’s not that Millennials aren’t living for the future. They just don’t think the future will look the way it does today, so planning is a bit futile. The “planning for the future” discussion, then, is NOT a Boomer crisis. No, it’s more likely a Millennial crisis. They are the ones who will more likely implement innovations in finance, technology, design, wellness, entertainment, all to achieve a livable solution for whatever retirement looks like in 30 years.

Planning for the future is not what it used to be, but at some point all generations have to look beyond the day-to-day and figure out what’s next.

And that’s what I’m taking back to the table next quarter.