I promise I’m not doing a ‘Gwyneth Paltrow – Goop’ move here, and this isn’t an ad for whatever health or beauty product is currently flavour of the month.
What I’m talking about is far more interesting. It’s based on the work of psychologist Lynda Gratton and economist Andrew Scott and their book ‘The 100 Year Life’. Their book is the outcome of three years of conversations, whilst working at London Business School. It created a global conversation and was even made into a manga in Japan!
I read the book and now regularly use some of the key insights to help me recalibrate my life expectations as well as those I interact with including my kids. Let me take you through some eye-opening and rather disconcerting facts which may help you realise the fundamental shifts this book is asking us to consider.
Over the last 150 years, best practice life expectancy has increased at the rate of two to three years every decade – a child born today has more than 50% chance of living significantly beyond 100.
The traditional social structures of time, that is, the three-stage life of education, work and retirement, are based on a much shorter life expectancy.
Whether you are 18, 45 or 60, you will need to do things very differently from previous generations and learn to structure your life in completely new ways.
Pretty interesting, right?
The book describes the challenges and the intelligent choices all of us, no matter our current age, must consider to ensure this increased life expectancy is a gift and not a curse.
When discussing with others, two initial reactions tend to come out on top. Firstly, the realisation that we’re going to be working a lot longer than we may have anticipated (as an FYI, research indicates our working years will be more like 60-70 years) and secondly, fretting about quality of life in terms of health. And both reactions do require significant reflection.
My initial reaction was excitement!
You see living to 100 rather than 70, works out to around 100,000 extra productive hours. I see this extra time as a precious gift – it means more experiences for myself and with the people I love, greater possibilities to achieve my dreams and support others in achieving theirs, and my most important realisation – my life is a marathon now, not a sprint.
That realisation moved into self-actualisation. You see, I took some pressure off myself – I don’t need to achieve X by 40 or Y by 50, to be ‘retired’ by 60. I suddenly felt freer. Free to take my foot off the accelerator, to take some time to explore different possibilities, go ‘off-road’ for a bit and be open to new choices, which were always there, I just had written them off because they didn’t fit my original plan, they didn’t provide the most direct route.
Longer lives mean being younger for longer. In fact, ‘juvenescence’ is a new term created to support this different multi-stage life we are all experiencing, whether we realise it or not.
Most importantly, I see this as giving us permission. Permission to not become trapped by past habits or by out-dated expectations or even by old identities. Permission to step into the arena. Permission to dare greatly!
Now, some questions for you to reflect on:
- Does the thought of working for 60 or 70 years fill you with dread or does it excite you? Why is that?
- Knowing we will be living longer and by default having multi-stage lives, how does this help you step into the arena?
- How will you begin to reimagine the possibilities of YOUR lifetime?
Welcome to the Arena!
I’m Dr Jess Murphy, Founder of Pathway to Your Potential Pty Ltd.
We collaborate with people and organisations at all levels, around the world, to enhance leadership effectiveness, drive more inclusive, higher performing cultures, and leverage difference in all its forms.
Want to challenge the status quo? Develop yourself, your team or shake up your organisation & industry? Join me in the arena as I share learnings, insights and importantly, dare greatly to take action.
Dr Jess Murphy – Founder
Having spent 20+ years in the corporate world holding various senior leadership roles, alongside her Adjunct Professorship in Business Leadership, Jess delivers a unique blend of pragmatism and cutting-edge insights to ensure immediate real-world application.
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