What Builders, Boomers, Millennials, and Gen-Y Have In Common

generation boy


Point and click just about anywhere on the web and you’ll find an article about the animosities, antagonisms, or incompatibilities of people of different ages. People born in the 1930s and 1940s see life differently than those born in the 1950s and 1960s who see life differently than those born in the 1970s and 1980s who see life differently than those born in the 1990s and 2000s. Rather than rehash all the ways people of varying generations see life differently here’s a list of what people of all ages have in common.

We all like feeling good. While our activities, foods, clothing styles and entertainments differ, we all share the pursuit of happiness.

We all like avoiding pain. There are very few locations where generations mingle. The exception is for medical needs: Emergency Rooms, doctors’ and dentists’ waiting rooms, and hospitals. Age differences vanish when it comes to toothaches, broken bones, or appendicitis.

We all want to be “liked.” Teens count their Facebook friends, Twitter followers, and Instagram “likes,” and elderly shut-ins count the number of visits they get. Even scoundrels, criminals, and cads prefer negative attention to no attention.

We all want meaningful lives. What fuels the pursuit of religion, science, hobbies, sports, work, money, or fame? A desire to feel like our lives matter.  People have different pathways to meaning but the motive is same: an aversion to obscurity, futility, and wasted lives.

We all want kindness, respect, love, affirmation. My clients range from 12 to 80. What they have in common is an aversion to conflict and a desire to create healthy relationships.

We all love air. Artists, novelists, poets, musicians, film makers, and marketers want to create content that will be the next “big thing,” smash hit, or viral Youtube video. But in reality the only thing humanity universally embraces is breathing. This being the case it makes more sense to  view younger and older generations as fellow passengers on space ship earth rather than aliens.

“Every generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it.” George Orwell

“Every generation laughs at the old fashions, but follows religiously the new.” Henry David Thoreau

“Rather than seeing different generations as square pegs in round holes let’s enlarge the hole.” Erik Johnson



What Are Your Unpaid Jobs?

The Farknagle family doesn’t know what their jobs are,
if they’re doing them well, or how to achieve success.

Each of us have relational tasks in life that must get done. We don’t earn a paycheck for them but they must get done. How many of the following briefly stated “job descriptions” do you have? Which have you completed? Which are you doing now? Which are yet to come?

Adolescent and teen years

Develop mature relationships with self, opposite gender, and all ages

Accept one’s body and treat it nice

Desire, accept, and achieve socially responsible behavior

Achieve emotional, financial, and vocational independence from parents

Acquire set of values, ethics, and spiritual principles that guide behavior



Bring out the best in your partner

Learn and grow together


Prepare emotionally for uniting with a life partner

Prepare financially for home ownership and shared purchases

Prepare relationally for the joys and challenges of marriage


Adjust to being both a connected and differentiated partner

Blend schedules, routines, and preferences

Acclimate to a new role, new identity, and new consultant (your partner!)

Marriage partner

Share a bathroom

Share a budget

Share a bed

Parent of pre-adolescent

Help children become responsible teens (see above)

Work with hormones, brain/body chemistry, peer groups, school issues

Establish age appropriate consequences

Parent of adolescent

Help teens prepare for adulthood

Adjust rules, freedoms, curfews, driving privileges, dating

Re-establish age appropriate consequences

Parent of perpetual adolescent

Help adult kids launch into full adulthood

Know when to enable, have soft love, and support your grown child

Know when to stop enabling, have tough love, and quit supporting your grown child

Single again (divorce, disease, death)

Adjust to new realities, emotions, and social roles

Find significance without a partner

Distinguish loneliness from aloneness

Family member in difficult relationships

Make peace



Communicate effectively

Set boundaries

Decision maker navigating your future

Manage difficult emotions (anger, sadness, anxiety, grief, fear)

Make choices

Juggle competing desires

How are you doing in your unpaid job? 

Erik’s been helping folks succeed in their “jobs” for over three decades. He offers hundreds of free “white papers” along with his books, booklets, and therapeutic data wheels which combine the best clinical practices with spiritual disciplines, art, humor, and easy to read descriptions. Check out www.askerikjohnson.com. He’s also available for personal coaching/counseling and formal conflict/dispute mediation.