Handling a baby boomer identity crisis

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Sure, life presents a lot of problems that people of every generation must confront, but Cindy Conner Burnett of Memphis, Tennessee, has written to BoomerCafé about a problem exclusive to our generation: what do you do when your two identities merge into just one? Does it have to be an identity crisis? Maybe not.

I don’t think my five-year-old granddaughter has a personal email address. At least not yet. But I predict she will have one soon enough, and it will be one that will follow her throughout her life. I was not so lucky.

Cindy Conner Burnett

Cindy Conner Burnett

I first discovered email as a technology tool for the workplace. As such, my email address was “myname@bigcompany.com.”  That address and my Blackberry served me well for the next 20 or so years. As my dependence on email grew from that of an interesting toy to a “must have access to and check 24/7,” my personal and work lives merged and lived side by side on my mobile device. Early attempts to have a separate email address went by the wayside as I simply didn’t have the time to look two places and the “work me” had merged into the “personal me” and the two existed happily in one spot. Or so I thought.

Then the big day came. Retirement. “Myname@bigcompany.com” vanished without a trace. Or a forwarding address. Or even a “return to sender, address unknown.”

Cindy's grandson with an iPhone.

Cindy’s grandson with an iPhone.

My retirement date was a carefully planned one and, as such, I had (or so I thought) ample time to make the changes that were needed with regard to the all-important email address. At the same time, I wanted to take care with the new address. I was tired of beginning every day with a packed inbox and wanted to limit the sharing of the new email to those I really wanted to hear from.

I would grade the success of my effort as a C+.

Cindy connected.

Cindy connected.

I think most of my friends have my new email but the dog-sitter called me when she received no response to half-a-dozen email requests for scheduling information. And there’s also the question of who’s trying to contact me but has simply given up. (Note: the same issues also exist with work versus personal cell phone numbers. But at least the callergets the “Not a working number” message.)

My grandchildren won’t have this challenge as they will have a well-established electronic identity long before they enter the workplace. It is, quite simply, a boomer issue. So myadvice: one day you will leave big or littlecompany.com. It’s never too early to start establishing your post-Company identity. And it just might make iteasier to walk away from work when it’s quitting time and spend time with your family, your friends — and yourself. Good practice for the future.

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