Oscar Wilde said that “with age comes wisdom.” I’d add, hopefully. But work near the nation’s capital for a while and you might think Wilde was wildly wrong.
Still, Boomers (and I’m on the tail end of that group, sad to say) have some wisdom to share with their Gen Z counterparts. I figure Millennials have already paid their dues enough that they might know stuff. The last Millennial was born in 1994, so they are all nearly 30 years old or more.
First off, Boomers are no smarter or better than the newer gens. The YouTube generations have ways of learning most older folks will never master. We are just more experienced.
Every new generation is sure it has cornered the market on youth and brains, only to find out that youth turns to middle age and then the golden years. My generation is always better than the generations before it. Whatever my generation happens to be.
It’s worth noting that the band who wrote the song, “My Generation,” aged out just like everyone else. To quote the song, “I hope I die before I get old.” Pete Townsend, who reportedly penned those memorable lyrics, he turned 78 in May. Oops.
To the Zoomers reading this, one day you’ll be old and mocked by young people, too. So it goes. Gen Alpha, you’re on deck.
As for the brains, (Brains! Shout the zombie movie fans.) they aren’t so great if you don’t know what to do with them. Which is why wisdom matters. So let me deliver some wisdomy goodness:
Pick Up the damn phone: I know, you’re one of the texting generations. You’d rather text, chat or maybe email. I use texting, Facebook Messenger, Signal, Twitter, Telegram and hieroglyphics to communicate with young people. OK, that last part we now call emojis. I’m adaptable. Try it. In the business world, you need to get hold of people. Many of them are older than you and actually use phones to, you know, talk.
But there’s more than just preference. You can’t tell inflection or tone in a text. A sarcastic comment that triggers you (and we know that happens a lot) might actually be a joke you would have laughed at… if you heard it out loud. Texts and emails are also easy to ignore. Get someone on the phone and you can pin them down. It has more immediacy. It is more personal.
The Washington Post has other advice, “The new phone call etiquette: Text first and never leave a voice mail.” I know this will shock you, but the Post is wrong.
Yes, you have to work: McJobs are fine when you are young. But they don’t pay enough for the nice things in life – like food other than Ramen. Don’t just take Boomer advice on that. The most accomplished people are the hardest workers, no matter their age. Taylor Swift spends hours on each performance and earned her spot at the pinnacle of the music industry. Her possible boyfriend, Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, also worked (ewww, that word) his butt off becoming the best at his position in the NFL.
And then there’s Mr. Beast, the IRL Jimmy Donaldson. The YouTube phenomenon is just a workaholic 25, but he built a global brand for his videos, his charity and his food products called Feastables. He’s no slacker. Try it.
But hard work isn’t enough. The old expression is true, it’s not what you know, it’s who. Network, make friends, especially those who are good at either bringing in money or who know those who can. It’s the real reason people go to big-name colleges.
Do the math: I can hear the screams as I type. Yes, there’s math on the real-life final. You need math to figure out taxes, tips and how much you can spend on things. Forget calculus unless you use it for work. You don’t really need Algebra II and Trig or most of the rest of the stuff you learned in school. But math is power.
Bad math is why so many younger people are in massive college debt. If you borrow $100,000 for a degree that will earn you $30,000 a year, you didn’t learn enough math. Most of your generation and multiple generations before you don’t know basic numbers. They didn’t have tough nuns forcing them to learn multiplication tables (Thanks, Sister Ludmilla!) and never learned to do basic math in their heads. So you don’t have to learn much to move to the head of the class.
That grande pumpkin spice latte you got at Starbucks just cost you $6. Enjoy it as a treat, sure. Buy one every day for a week and that’s $42. Buy that or its equivalent every day for a year and that’s $2,190.
That’s not the price of coffee. That’s a couple car payments or even some money toward student loans. Do a budget so you can figure out where you spend your money. And cut out unnecessary things you can’t afford. That’s all math.
Learn to do things: Your parents were smart. (Smart enough to bring you into the world and get you this far.) The reason they could afford all those extras like food and clothes is they probably didn’t waste money. All of that little stuff your parents did saved them a ton of cash. Sew on a button and all it costs you is the price of a tiny sewing kit – once. Pay someone and that’s more like $10 – each time. Laundry is worse because it has to be done all the time. Don’t buy too many dry-clean only clothes if you can help it. Dry cleaning will rip a hole in your budget.
Learn to cook. It’s a ton cheaper than buying carry-out or Uber Eats. You don’t have to be great at it. Learn to cook the foods you like. Get recipes from family and ask them to walk you through it. They will be hella flattered.
Focus on your health: The Millennials are already learning that your health starts declining even in your 30s. Injuries that healed quickly in your teens take their time as you get older. So, eat better, develop good workout strategies that include weights, not just cardio. Build a list of docs you can count on and see them regularly. That includes dentists, eye doctors and more. It’s a lot easier to stop something from happening than fixing it afterward.
Injuries and illnesses are nearly inevitable. Take care when they happen. If you injure yourself, do the physical therapy to get better. You will really thank me for this one.
This is just a starter list. The SparkNotes for life. There’s tons more on relationships, friends, family, faith, having kids, skipping the hook-up culture and more. Much of that you have to learn on your own.
But for all of it, accept you will make mistakes. We made/make our share. Don’t be too hard on yourself.