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"A lot has happened, but
has much really changed?"
"Although we are now only seconds away from almost anyone and anything on the planet, thanks to technology, have we really changed the way we think about ourselves, manage our communities or make decisions?" demands Futurist PJ Wade, emphasizing that on all fronts progress is an illusion.
"Many of the beliefs, stereotypes, misconceptions and myths about career, aging, home, health, and retirement that were present in the 1900s are still with us," Wade stresses. "These warped, inaccurate views hold organizations and individuals back from realizing the true potential for improvement that technology and the related knowledge flood offer us."
Wade acknowledges that Baby Boomers have stimulated North America's economies and transformed cultural and societal standards as they advance through life-and they are far from finished yet. This demographic revolution, enhanced by the technological whirlwind represented by the Internet and wireless communication, dictates a wide-scale re-evaluation of business principles and consumer expectations, according to Wade. However, Wade believes that change does not automatically mean improvement.
"To put our collective and individual futures in context, we must put the Age Wave in context," said Wade. "Every aspect of society will be rewritten by Boomers and their families. Who's going to guarantee we get it right? Look as the shambles education and the stock market have been left in."
We can hope for rosy futures and an end to ageism, but without conscious effort and deliberate purpose where are we headed? Are politicians and CEO's the ideal leaders for this century?
Everything is up for grabs. For instance, retirement, once a handful of quiet years spent waiting to die has been transformed into a decades-long, active involved unretirement, as Wade calls it. Eventually, it will become invisible, a seemless extension of life, not an end to anything. But will this improvement touch all Canadians or only a privileged few: * By 2066, the last of Canada's Boomers will turn 100. What will those birthday parties be like? Where will they be living? Most should be living active, involved lives in their own homes. These questions and others like them reflect the shifts in thinking, traditions and the make-up of society that may and, in many cases, must lie ahead.
"The challenge for businesses and governments and, therefore, consumers lies in the fact that the Boomer population bulge does not act as one mind or work together," says Strategist Wade, a provocative public speaker, author and educator. "Each Boomer is individually reacting to their changing needs, interests and level of maturity. By sheer numbers, patterns arise, but no one is in control of what evolves."
Wade says it's past time to end the myths about Boomers, for instance: * Ironically, Boomers, perhaps the most age-phobic group in history, earn their status entirely because of their birth date. Boomers were simply born between 1947 and 1966. They hold no other special or mystical power. Boomers are 39 to 58 this year, that's all there is to that.
* The most significant characteristic of The Age Wave is its diversity. Boomers are not clones; they do not act and think as one.
"The most consistently-overlooked opportunity arises from the fact that we are dealing with a 'never-before-experienced' phenomenon which has far-reaching impact-The Age Wave," emphasizes Wade. "Never before in history have we had such a well-educated, relatively well-off, well-connected, healthy population, in such proportions, headed towards their 100th birthdays. However, understanding Boomers means appreciating that their greatest impact will not result from their aging, but their concentration on life - living. That is unique in the history of the world."
According to Wade: "Harnessing this diversity and determination will be the most significant challenge faced by Boomers and their communities and country because this force will be present on many fronts at once, visible in apparently unconnected ways. 'How good are you at connecting the dots across industries and lifestyles?' That's the question organizations and individuals must answer."
Terminology used by PJ Wade: "Baby Boomers" - approximately 9.8 million born in Canada between 1947 and 1966; approximately 78 million born in the United States between 1946 and 1664.
"The Age Wave" - collective term for Baby Boomers; term coined by Dr. Ken Dychtwald in referring to "the largest generation in history-baby boomers."
"Unretirement" - Wade says it is the opposite of everything that retirement used to mean to us."
Background: Strategist and Futurist PJ Wade, known professionally as "The Catalyst," is an internationally-recognized authority on the Age Wave and the new retirement. Through her firm (also called The Catalyst), PJ provides strategic communication and education services to organizations and the clients they serve. PJ has designed innovative future-planning programs for education institutions that include the University of Toronto and TVOntario and has authored 6 books and more than 1000 published articles. An accomplished professional speaker with more than 7000 hours in front of audiences, PJ Wade specializes in taking people outside "the box"- way outside the box of past experience and helping them stay there.