We are in the midst of a longevity revolution. An entire adult lifespan has been added to our time on this earth. How can we make good use of this time? This is a unique opportunity to make these extra years a gift, not a curse. It will, however, mean that each generation must plan for this longevity creatively.
You have more time than you think. If you haven’t found a rewarding career by age 30, don’t despair. It’s still possible to go to law school, medical school or embark on another radical career change during your 30s. Explore new possibilities and consider the years that have already passed as nurturing “experimental years.” Also, plan on learning continuously. Technology will eventually eliminate or drastically change your job and open the door to a new career – in fact, probably 6-7 careers in your lifetime.
Like millennials, you too will have several careers – most likely because of technological change, but also because you will probably be working much later in life. This presents a unique opportunity to shift careers and perhaps follow a passion that did not seem practical during your 20s and 30s. You can have it all, but not at the same time.
You do not have to retire unless you want to. Some 40 per cent of people of retirement age work because they want to. Remember, retirement can kill you. This is the perfect time to be a “late bloomer” and do something you did not pursue during your youth. Learning new skills is possible at any age, because the brain has enormous ability to regenerate itself and grow. Also, research is very clear that people get happier as they get older. According to Stanford University researcher Laura Carstensen: “The peak of emotional life may not occur well into the seventh decade.”
Dr. Eva Klein is a corporate and clinical psychologist. Since January 2013, she has been a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences in the Faculty of Health Sciences at McMaster. She’s currently teaching a MBA course on managing organizational change at the DeGroote School of Business, as well as undergraduate courses to Health Sciences students with a focus on conducting difficult conversations.