Weekend Reading: Generativity vs. Stagnation in Middle Adulthood

This article appears as part of Casey Weade's Weekend Reading for Retirees series. Every Friday, Casey highlights four hand-picked articles on trending retirement topics and delivers them straight to your email inbox. Get on the list here.
Weekend reading generativity vs stagnation Weekend reading generativity vs stagnation
Weekend Reading

If you want to live a vibrant retirement, embracing generativity – versus stagnation – is key.


Being generative vs. stagnant: Psychologist Erik Erikson introduced a developmental theory focused on eight life stages, the seventh of which is key to navigating middle adulthood, called generativity vs. stagnation. Generativity involves a sense of productivity, contribution and positively impacting the world. Stagnation, on the other hand, represents feeling stuck, unproductive and lacking purpose. Those who experience stagnation may resist growth, avoid responsibilities and feel unfulfilled.

Middle adulthood presents specific challenges, including life transitions, health concerns, intergenerational relationships and financial considerations that can muddy the necessity of generativity. To enhance generativity endeavors, you can focus on pursuing things like mentoring, volunteering and passing on knowledge. Further, to avoid stagnation, you can seek new experiences, contribute to your community, identify personal passions, surround yourself with positive influences and embrace continuous learning.

Your pursuit of a life based on generativity will likely require stepping out of your comfort zone so that you can cultivate meaningful experiences. It’s about focusing on purpose and personal growth, versus remaining stagnant.