Monthly Archives: October 2020

Generation Y – What’s Next?

Educators, Parents, Business and even GenYers themselves are all in need of information on how to prepare for the looming transition of over 70 million, 16 to Twenty-Somethings as they enter the workplace and the “real world”. This generation is different from any other that has come before. GenYers are tech savvy, multi-taskers, who can juggle e-mail, their Blackberry’s, talking on their cells and cruising the net all at the same time. They like change because that’s what they know, that’s what their world has been. On the flip-side of the coin, stats show that most are unsure of how to prepare themselves for transition into post-secondary education and the workplace. Questions such as “What’s next?” bog them down as they are overwhelmed with the possibilities they have to choose from and unsure of the directions they should take. They are told at the age of 16 or 17 to decide what they want to be when they grow up. But this concept is a difficult idea for GenYers to grasp when they see how fast change takes place. They know that an occupation they are interested in right now – may no longer be there when they have finished 4 years of post-secondary education. They have received mixed messages from educators and the education system, which hasn’t changed since the industrial revolution.

Educators are using outdated methods and trying to prepare students for a world that no longer exists. The result?…kids who are confused and unprepared for what employers and the workplace really expect. They’ve been told to stop doodling, be realistic, sit still and do as they are told. When in reality, successful companies are looking for creative, innovative, problem-solvers, who can act quickly and think for themselves.

Parents feel inadequate to help their kids make choices around careers and education and are exasperated by the boomerang generation – youth who leave home to work or go to school, then find themselves moving back home 2 to 5 years later – living in the same bedroom they grew up in. They spend their days and enormous amounts of time in front of the television or computer, playing video games and “talking” to friends on the latest social network because they don’t know what to do with their degree and feel paralyzed by the decisions they need to make or which directions to take.

Employers are finding themselves ill-equipped to handle an ever increasing multi-enerational workforce and the challenges of this new breed of employees. They realize that the GenYers are coming but most aren’t quite prepared for the experience of employing a new wave of workers.

“A new type of Career and Education Planning is vital to help GenYers find fulfilling career opportunities and to help them maneuver their way through an ever-changing work world.” says Bonnie Porter, President of What’s Next? Transition Strategies. “Success is no longer about answering the question, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ It’s about exploring, experiencing and growing through decisions. Knowing themselves, their passions and what they want out of life will develop confident, happy and successful, children, students, employees and most of all GenYers who know “What’s Next?” for them”. Students often express that they can’t find the help they need from their school guidance counsellors. Even guidance counsellors themselves admit to the challenge of working with a 500:1 student ratio. There is no way they can possibly provide the much needed one-to-one assistance focused on the individual.

Many are now seeking the help of a fee-for-service Career Coach who can help them prepare for and create their own unique career path. More and more individuals are finding this to be a valuable investment in their life, education and career. Given the way the world is changing they will not be content with just a job. Most want lives that are purpose driven. They want to accomplish goals and experience challenges and passion for their lives. Their instincts tell them that there is more than what they are experiencing now. It’s the reason students change their majors two and three times and that so many Christmas graduates come home without completing their education. They have settled for something less than what they really want because most have never decided what that really is and they didn’t know what else to do. They are unsatisfied and unfulfilled.

It has been said that each generation comes equipped with the gifts and talents they require to live in their era, to overcome obstacles and improve the world we live in. Generation Y have what it takes to courageously take the helm and lead. Unfortunately though, most are unaware of how to go about discovering what the “more” is for them. They end up feeling restless and unfulfilled, stressed and living back at home. They need help to define their preferred future and to recognize that they have the power to choose how to get from where they are to where they want to be. When GenYers take the step to determine what’s next?, they walk away with the confidence to create the career and life paths that will be right for them.

Don’t Want Your Kids to Get Bent Over Like Your Parents? Act Now!

I am currently in the middle of a visit with friends that we see periodically because they live in a different part of the world. I have known Ruth and her parents for almost 30 years. Tall and slender, she was a champion swimmer in her school days before graduating as a physical therapist. Her 15 year old daughter Sarah is a vibrantly attractive, 5′ 10″ at this point, and likely to surpass her mother in height. A recent Swiss holiday with her parents and siblings reinforced a significant reality to Ruth: Including the memories of her departed grandmother, there were four generations of postural stoop.

Change isn’t as apparent when we are with people all the time. It is more noticeable when we have periodic encounters and have our images updated. The reality is that any postural deviation will continue to extend itself until corrected. Rapid decline is likely in later years.

Ruth is very motivated right now. She doesn’t want to follow the same decline as her mother. She would like to prevent her from the eventual need of a walker. She knows she is on a slippery slope and she wants to prevent Sarah and her other children from a similar slide. She’s motivated! She is educated! With the right tools and strategies, she is empowered!

Walking through a crowd of teenagers, at a high school, concert, or any such gathering will provide ample evidence of postural drift. There are many obvious reasons; family tendencies (especially among tall people), slouching over keyboards, carrying backpacks, attitudes, trends, etc. Some are less obvious but equally likely. Sarah is athletic. She runs, plays soccer, field hockey etc. Her height would make her a natural for volleyball, basketball, swimming and other sports. She is also musically talented and spends many hours practicing the piano. Being a tall relational person makes her want to be on the level with her friends. Spending all this time in a bent position, the body thinks it is the standard position where it ought to return to. A new normal needs to be established.

This is an article to call attention to the problem and suggest a mechanism to instill an awareness of optimal posture and desire for it to be a new normal. If you ask most teenagers if they want to be shorter, the answer would be a quick no. There are exceptions. Abnormally tall young people may want to conform to fit in and so they consciously stoop so their height is not so obvious. Some are conscious of their bust line and want to hide it. Most get over it and appreciate the advantages; and there are many.

A simple search of the internet under “forward head posture” or “head forward posture” yields yields millions of hits. Many of them offer restraining devices that hold the shoulders back in a position that seems to represent good posture. The problem with passive restraint devices is that they only work when you wear them and they substitute for muscle activity. They actually weaken structures rather than improve them. Taking them off gives a relief from being restrained and they return to old norms. Other solutions are exercises that stretch, strengthen muscle groups and mobilize joints to improve body condition and restore posture. They can be good and work for some people. When it comes to young people, they are even less likely to accept restraints or regular exercise disciplines. It is easy to just “fit in” with everybody else and slouch together.

I think there is a better solution that has possibilities to change habits and behavior. Working as an educator for 30 years, I believe that providing a motivation and a process that is simple enough to integrate into daily activities, they will buy into change and make it permanent. It isn’t constant reminding (nagging) by parents or some other adults and it isn’t guilt or dire warnings of consequences. (Why do young people still take up smoking?) The long term consequences of poor posture are immense.  Joint and muscle pain, to back pain, nerve impingements, reduced lung capacity, TMJ pain, chronic headaches, shoulder and neck pain, blood pressure regulation, internal organ function and many more, all have possible links to posture.  It just isn’t as common to think about these things when you are young.

Most of us. including young people, don’t want to lose our height. Most of us, including young people, want to improve our self image. Optimal posture will do that. We can recover two inches or more if we correct a slouch and we can improve our overall appearance as well.

I am suggesting an approach to posture protection and correction that I don’t see as much. It is really more about lifting of the upper body into alignment; reaching up to full potential. Strangely enough it involves depressing the scapulae or shoulder blades. Think of three elevators side by side. The outer ones represent the scapulae. The inner one is the spine. As the two outer ones (the scapulae) go down, the middle one goes up.

Why does this happen? Dr. Makofsky, Professor of Physical Therapy at a New York university coined the term “Spinal Corkscrew Principle”. He identifies the action of depressing the shoulders produces a compression force on the ribs. Because of their construction, this inward force creates an upward force or decompression on the spine. This brings the spine into alignment in a very natural way by activating and strengthening key muscle groups in the mid and upper back. One way to experience this is to do it when you are lying in bed. Lying flat on your back, press your shoulders toward the bottom of the bed. You should feel your upper body move toward the head of the bed while the lower body stays still.

Active muscle involvement creates muscle memory. How many of the skills that we learn are performed with muscle memory? How many times are we awestruck at kids as they effortlessly perform complex skills; riding a skateboard or bicycle, skating, swimming, performing gymnastics, playing an instrument, etc. In some disciplines it is referred to as “kinesis” or “kinaesthetic awareness”. It makes you aware and you don’t forget.

In 2005, with over 30 years of clinical experience, Dr. Makofsky invented the PostureJac. It uses this mechanism to restore and train proper posture by correcting your perception of what’s normal. It slips on like a jacket with handles at the side. With the handles adjusted so that your elbows can lock while pressing down, it produces the “Spinal Corkscrew Mechanism”. The shoulders go down (like the handles of the corkscrew), and the spine goes up (like the cork). Holding this position, the spine is very stable and the joints are tight. Dr. Makofsky has designed exercises that will stretch, strengthen and mobilize tight, weak and stiff muscles and joints. Teenagers won’t likely feel these things but you will, and you are reading this article and you may have these problems as well, just like Ruth and her mother. So you should pay attention to this as well. Chances are that your posture is worse than theirs and you think it is too late.

The good news is that it isn’t too late and you can set a good example for them. It’s kind of like telling them to stop smoking when you can’t, or lose weight when you won’t. This is something for everyone. There is just an urgency with young people in their developmental years to create a healthy “groove” rather than cut a new one later on.

You can find more information on Dr. Makofsky’s “Spinal Corkscrew Principle” and the PostureJac at http://www.posturejac.com (and see a picture of Ruth and Sarah). It isn’t just for bent over people. It is for athletes who need to maximize performance, for singers who need maximum lung capacity, whoever hunches over a computer too long, and other people who would just like to live longer and better by taking proper care of their spine. It is the central axis of our body, and it affects all the other joints and organs.

You know the old saying “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.” Okay, you can’t “make” them stand up straighter. Come to think of it, they do get headaches, TMJ pain, and various other sundry pains. Hmmm! Maybe there is more in it for them than just looking taller and better.