When we’re aging, our priorities change. We may have different values or interests as we grow older, and our responsibilities also change with time. Our financial situation and family relationships may also affect our priorities. In addition, society changes over time, and generations have different priorities as well. Let’s look at how priorities change with age and what factors influence this
Our Values Change When We’re Young, in Midlife, and in Late Life
As we’re aging, our values change. As young adults, careers, friends, and family may not be as important to us as they’re later in life, but knowledge, faith, service, and personal growth are. This can be for a variety of reasons:
As we grow older and more mature (and therefore more responsible), we may feel that throwing all caution to the wind isn’t as advisable as it was when we were younger. Taking risks for ourselves may no longer be worth it because we’ve responsibilities, such as for children or elderly people; taking on new projects may hinder those responsibilities instead of supporting them.
We learn from experience what works best for us and what doesn’t; this leads us down new paths that are consistent with what we learn from experience, rather than focusing too much on one area of life when we’re young (e.g., career). This can help us avoid mistakes that would have cost us a lot more money/time/effort if possible!
Some Values Remain Important to Us Throughout Our Lives
When you’re young, you may be focused on having fun, having lots of new experiences, and taking more risks because life feels eternal.
As We Get Older, Our Priorities Shift
Growing up, we may have focused on school, friends, family, and fun. As adults, we start focusing on work, finances, and relationships.
The older we get, the less tolerant we’re of pain and challenges and the more interested we’re in comfort.
- We have less patience for things that aren’t useful or interesting. We want to know what we’ll get out of something, and the sooner the better.
- We don’t have time for things that don’t matter or make a difference. We want to spend our energy on things that matter most – things that really change our lives.
- We’re less risk-averse because we’ve learned from our mistakes and don’t want to repeat them (or feel bad about them).
- We value relationships more than ever because they give us meaning and purpose in life (and are fun!).
But some values may remain important to us throughout our lives. For example:
- Family can still be very important to us in our later years. Many of us are still raising children or helping them in school, and many of us have parents who need support. The good news is that as we get older, we get much more physical activity as we care for younger generations (and fewer late-night phone calls).
- Friends are also an important part of our lives at any age, but perhaps even more so as we get older. We take more time than ever to maintain old friendships and make new ones! You may look forward to spending time with people who really know what you’re like – with your quirks and strengths – without having to explain every detail about every part of your life every time you see each other. And if you’re moving away from home or starting a new job far from your old friends, it can be an easy way to keep up with them while making new social connections.
Some Values Become Less Important as You Age
Maybe you’re a parent, grandparent, or another kind of adult caregiver to a child or young adult. You’ve probably noticed how quickly priorities can change when it comes to your loved one’s needs and wants. The older you get and the more experience you gain as an adult, the more you realize the value of different things, and most importantly, you know what you want.
For example, when I was younger, my number one priority was to have fun. Once I’d a lot of that, it wasn’t fun anymore, so I started traveling and getting interested in other cultures. After traveling for many years, I just wanted to settle down, and once I settled down, my career became my new priority until I realized that health was more important.
So as new experiences pop up in your life every day and time passes…remember that they’ll also change what’s most important at any given moment!
Our Interests Aren’t the Same as We Get Older
As we get to an older age, our interests change. This is due to a variety of factors. Some are universal: our interests change as we gain knowledge and experience, or as life events like marriage or children come our way. But the community that surrounds us and the technology we use can also contribute to our changing interests.
The Internet has opened up an incredible amount of opportunities for people to connect with others who share similar passions and interests. So if you’ve ever wondered why so many people are obsessed with TV or why social media gets so much attention, it’s because these things have become community-oriented trends that help people feel less alone and give them a common interest.
As We Get Older, What Matters Most to Us Changes
As we get older, what matters most to us changes. Your twenties may be about independence and self-discovery.
In your thirties, it’s about establishing yourself professionally. In your forties, it’s about starting a family or building a legacy, and in your fifties and beyond, it’s more about enjoying time with the people you love and living a healthier lifestyle until retirement.
This is a generalization, of course, because some people are more mature than others, and others are slower.
But as Our Priorities Shift With Age – What’s Important to Us Depends on Where We’re in Our Lives
We also need to consider how those priorities affect others around us. If spending time with your family is important to you now, but you don’t want to have children until later (or at all), you shouldn’t take on too much extra work or volunteer responsibilities during the years when having a family is more important than anything else.
Responsibilities Are Different at Every Stage of Life
As you get older, the things that matter most to you change.*
Your priorities shift because of changes in your stage of life, your family, your job, and your health.
Maybe you have more responsibilities than ever, maybe you’re trying to advance professionally while making ends meet financially. Or maybe you’re busy at home but don’t have much time to take care of things outside the home, like volunteering or taking classes (or both!), because so many other things are happening around the house – whether it’s caring for children or helping parents who need help with everyday tasks.
Our Financial Situation Changes Our Priorities
You’re in a different financial situation now than you were when you were younger. That’s an important part of the equation because money can be a source of happiness, stress, security, freedom, and comfort. It can also give us status and make us feel secure about our lives.
When you’re young, your family ties are tighter. Your parents and siblings are the most important people in your life.
As you become older and start to have a career, that changes – but not completely. You still want to spend time with your family and friends, but now you have other responsibilities that take up some of your time.
If you get married or have kids later in life, that can change even more dramatically: not only do they become part of your core network (and therefore more important), but suddenly there are a bunch of other relationships that need attention, too!
As you get older, the way you work will change. That’s good news! As you gain experience and skills, the type of work that best suits you’ll also change. Here are some ways in which:
- Your interests may change. As a young person, you may have been all about making money or having adventures; as an older person, you may pursue more meaningful goals, like helping others or being part of a community.
- Your quality of life may improve as you age. If so, this can help you work more easily – for example, if it means avoiding strenuous physical labor or working longer hours than you used to without feeling overworked.”
Health Is an Important Factor
We all know that health is an important factor at any stage of life, but it can also be a priority at any age. Whether you’re in your 20s, 30s or 50s, paying attention to and prioritizing your health are important steps to living the best life possible.
This is especially true when considering how priorities can change with age. While some things remain important across all ages – like love and family – others can change as you age.
When you reach retirement age, for example, work plays a lesser role because it no longer limits your ability to enjoy life (even if your job is fulfilling enough in itself, that’s great!). Social circles also shrink with age, unless they’re maintained (or there’s an opportunity to expand) through active participation in organizations such as churches or community groups.
What We Read and See Influences Us
We live in a world of stories. When we’re born, we learn through our parents and the people around us. This is the first step in our life of learning. As we grow up, we experience different things that make us who we’re today.
As Children, We Watch Cartoons and Read Comic Books
We learn about superheroes or see that the good guys always win. As adults, we begin to realize that life isn’t like a movie or a comic book. All these stories and characters still influence us in ways that are hard to explain.
At different stages of life, we read and watch different things, and whether it’s stories or television shows, they can influence us.
We’re Influenced by the Stories We Read or Watch Because They Inspire Us in Our Daily Lives
If you only ever see a certain type of person on TV shows, you may think that real people look like that, no matter what race or gender they’re, and so on. You may think that all policemen are corrupt because you only see movies where they arrest innocent people instead of catching the bad guys! Some people develop prejudices against certain groups because they only see them portrayed negatively in the media, for example, in movies on TV.
Society Is Changing
The priorities of Gen Z are very different from those of the Boomer generation because society has changed. For example:
The Boomer generation didn’t grow up with their own device and social media. In the past, everyone watched the same TV shows because many grew up with one TV per household. Today, Gen Z youth are more independent because everyone has their own device and can Google anything. The opportunities to learn and research are endless.
Many Western countries now allow gay marriage and even adoption, which means same-sex parents are contributing to a new kind of society that no one could’ve imagined before.
Thanks to advanced technology, we’ve better public health care (not in every country), and we also have an aging older population, which increases the life expectancy of seniors, but also puts pressure on our financial situation so that older people can afford long term care support services and nursing homes for elderly people retirement.
Education has also evolved. In the past, except for some specialized professions such as doctors or lawyers, a high school diploma or an apprenticeship was often enough, but today the job market is so competitive for younger adults that it’s become more difficult for their age group to find a well-paying job without a degree. College has also become very expensive, as has student housing.
Different Generations Have Different Priorities
The priorities of Gen Z are very different from those of the Boomers. For example, Generation Z spends a lot more time on tablets or phones playing games, posting selfies on social media, or researching topics like climate change or mental health, while older adults’ priorities were more about clubbing, partying, or face to face social networks.
This is often seen at birthday or New Year’s celebrations where Gen Z and older people are mixed. Boomers often tend to listen to louder music and show they’re having fun, while the younger generation spends more time with their tablet.
At school older individuals (baby boomers for example) used to do their research in libraries, while younger generations are now doing their research on Google Scholar.
This is just a snapshot of how our priorities change as we age and between generations. What we find important changes over time. We can see that in the world today compared to the world at another point in history, and it makes sense that our values change over time as well.