Our generation has been gifted with an extra season of life.
In her book, The 100-Year Life: Living and Working in an Age of Longevity, Professor Lynda Gratton explains why longevity is something we need to understand; then, we need to shift some of our current thinking.
She writes that, on average, we are living 30 years longer than our great grandparents and that many of our grandchildren will celebrate their 100th birthdays.
Let’s use this visual to explore what this may mean for each of us:
Formerly, life was more linear: 25 years of education, 35 years of work, and then a few years of retirement before one died. Technology and longevity have disrupted this progression, and this shift requires us to step back and consider new possibilities.
I like to call this the gift of an extra season.
For each of us, this gift may look different – money, health and family are variables that play an important factor.
Let’s examine some scenarios.
Meet Mary and Dave who have worked and saved over the last 40 years and feel that now it is time to enjoy life, visit their three children and travel. They would like to volunteer and help when available and want to have some fun and relax. They know that they can survive on what they have saved and have a plan.
Our second scenario features Annie; she is divorced, and her children live overseas. She has not managed to save enough and needs to continue working as long as possible. She has a great set of skills and can offer her services as a virtual assistant to several clients. Working remotely also allows her the time to travel and visit her children.
Next is Anton. He had a great corporate career and now, in retirement, finds himself wanting to add value and have a reason to get out of bed every day. He is healthy and is working with a group of start-up businesses where he uses his skills two days a week to mentor and coach young entrepreneurs.
Finally, Christine, having retired from formal work as a qualified nurse, decided to work on one of the global cruise liners. She had lost her husband when she was 50. She has been doing that now for more than 10 years. Her children join her on cruises from time to time, so she gets to see the world and still spends time with her family.
What is the clear common denominator? Each person exercised a choice regarding what they wanted their future to look like.
The gift of choice is part of this legacy season.
Take the time to look at your life. Think out of the box and design a framework that works for you. Technology and better health give us options that were not available to our parents and grandparents.
If ill health starts to impact our life, we may have to slow down and accept that some of the options are no longer available to us. The challenge I see too often is people slowing down too soon, not looking after their health and not opening themselves up to new experiences and opportunities. A legacy season is one where we can give back and reflect on the journey. Use the time wisely. It is a gift.
Live long and die short is my motto. I hope to live in my legacy season until my last day. If this is not possible, I will accept that life can slow down, that I have lived life to the full and will live with grace and peace in this last season.
We cannot control all the circumstances but we sure can make the most of the gifts we have been given.