Because of a new book we are writing, we have been thinking a lot about our own generation lately — the baby boomer generation.
There are 80 million of us born between the mid-1940s and the mid-1960s — the biggest generation ever, and in many ways, a pioneering generation. We changed the world, and we continue to see the world change because of what our generation did.
But the changes that interest us most are two rather subtle changes that are happening within us and within so many members of our generation, particularly in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
They are gradual changes, and sometimes we are unaware of them, but they are sea changes — shifts that are huge in their meaning and in their consequences.
First, we are fast becoming more interested in whom we are than in what we do. Being is now more important to us than doing.
That may seem like a subtle distinction, but think about it. For most of our lives, we have been defined by what we do. People’s first question in meeting us is “What do you do?” and much of life has been about accomplishing things and building our resumes and trying to achieve our “doing” goals. We live much of our lives by our “things-to-do” lists. The doing has been driving the being. What we have become is largely the product of what we do.
But now, in this new season, it reverses. What we do is driven by who we are and who we want to become. We want to be good grandparents, and that drives what we do. We want to be healthy and fit for another 20 years, and that drives what we do. We want to reinvent ourselves as artists or readers or students or whatever interests us, and that drives what we do.
We have more choice now, more freedom, and we know what really matters, so we choose what we do — based on what we most want to be. This is a big change.
Second, we now prioritize relationships more than achievements.
For most of our lives, we have measured ourselves and been measured by others on what we have accomplished. We work hard at our jobs, and the people we know and associate with daily have been those we work with, so our relationships have been driven largely by our achievements.
But now, in this autumn season, it flips the other way. We prioritize relationships more, with our families and with the friends we choose, and our accomplishments are driven by these relationships. We have the freedom now to choose what we want to work on, and we often choose our friendships and our interactions and our activities with those we love.
These two sea changes have the power to redefine our lives and to make them better.
Both of these important shifts are in direct harmony with the gospel, which teaches us that we will be judged more by what we are and whom we have become than by what we have done; and that it is our relationships and not our achievements that we will be able to take with us into eternity.
Richard and Linda Eyre are New York Times best-selling authors who lecture throughout the world on family-related topics. Visit them anytime at www.EyresFreeBooks.com or www.valuesparenting.com. Their latest Deseret e-book is “On the Homefront."