I’m just a regular quinquagenarian who loves spending her weekends pottering around at home.
The highlight of my weekends begins with unwinding on Thursday afternoons at my go-to coffee shop, watching the world go by. Fridays are spent catching up with TV series and movies, with the best company- a soothing cup of tea. On Saturdays, I like to spend time browsing the net and looking through my photos of the week, to find inspiration and ways to improve myself in every aspect of my life.
To the younger generation this might seem rather boring, but for me, this qualifies as a great time. It makes me happy. This is what I had envisaged for my future self while still in my late twenties- to be able to enjoy every moment in life the way that made me happiest.
I recall how aggressive I was up until my late 30’s, to keep the proverbial ball rolling, to be ever-dynamic. Perhaps this was due to the self-imposed expectations that I placed on myself, while struggling to find a balance, between who I really was and who I was expected to be- a never-ending uphill battle.
So, how did I get here?
Well, I believe it was what social psychologists describe as “consequence, due to gradual shifting from promotion motivation to promotion prevention”.
“What in the world is she talking about?”
Promotion motivation is seeing our goals in terms of what we can gain, or how we can end up better off. A motivation to promote “to the next level, if you will.” This is most prevalent among younger adults, because youth tends to be a time when we focus on our hopes of the future. We conceptualize our ideal dream, of getting ahead at work, or moving to a new town… Add to it the lack of many responsibilities and you have the ideal elements for a strong promotion motivation case.
As for prevention motivation, it is all about ensuring that things run smoothly and avoiding losses- “motivation to prevent detriment”. As we progress in life, we discover the latter term, through experience, growth, joy, pain, loss, family responsibilities, financial commitments- basically, getting knocked around a bit by life. The lessons accumulate as we move from one experience to the next.
Naturally, we all have both. However, the relative amounts vary from individual to individual. This is what changes with experience as we progress in life. This is particularly apparent in the workplace, where younger individuals are more promotion orientated, focused on developing skills and “making it”, versus the older individuals who are more prevention-motivated, where security and flexible work schedules are their main concerns,
Looking back, I realize how much I’ve changed. The answer, of course, is that I grew up. For many of us, being “happy” slowly evolves into something completely different – a gradual change from the highly energized teenage experience to the self-centered 20’s, the overachieving 30’s, to the more peaceful, relaxing experience of an overworked parent whose dream of reading a book without any disturbances, becomes a holiday. The latter isn’t less “happy” than the former—it’s just a different way of experiencing it.