You May Live Past 100! Living in the Age of Longevity

How Long Will You Live?

When you’re young, you feel like you will live forever.

Soon enough, you realize that time is both fleeting and speeding by at a faster pace with each passing year.

Living to age 100 was once incredibly rare. When I was a teenager, I regularly visited a local nursing home, and it seemed most were in their 80s. Today, I know many people in their 80s and even 90s not only living on their own, but thriving, going to exercise classes, and even still driving.

100 just doesn’t seem impossible anymore.

Turns out, it’s not only possible, but now so common that it’s changing everything from the way we think and plan our lives.

Written by two professors from the London Business School, The 100-Year Life: Living and Working in an Age of Longevity, explores the implications of living much longer than we ever expected.

Here’s one statistic the authors shared with me that shocked me:

 

Research: More than half of millennials will live past 100.

 

Amazing.

Written by Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott, this book is full of surprising statistics and the implications for all of us. I recently spoke with author Andrew Scott, Professor of Economics at the London Business School about their new work:

Copyright Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott, Used by Permission. Oldest age by which 50% of babies born in 2007 are predicted to still be alive. Copyright Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott, Used by Permission.
Oldest age by which 50% of babies born in 2007 are predicted to still be alive.

The Implications of the 100-Year Life

You open your book, The 100-Year Life: Living and Working in an Age of Longevity, with compelling statistics and proof. We are living longer and the implications are sweeping. Are we in the age of longevity?  What are some of the more obvious implications?

It’s well known that we are living longer, and there are more old people. However there is less understanding that there is strong evidence that each generation is living longer than the previous and is in general healthier for longer. Life expectancy has been increasing by about 2-3 years every decade for the last 200 years. That means that each generation lives around 6-9 years longer than the previous generation. There are major debates about how long and at what rate this can continue, but the signs are that best practice life expectancy is continuing to increase.

In our view people mistakenly take the fact that we are living for longer to mean that we are older for longer. They focus more on aging than longevity. However longevity means we have more years of life and will restructure our life accordingly. Many of our economic, financial and social patterns of behavior are based on an outdated view of life expectancy of around 70. We need to restructure to account for the likely possibility of a 100 year life.

With a long life we will see the end of the dominant model of a three stage life of education, work and retirement. Just as the twentieth century saw the emergence of new stages such as teenagers and retirees, so longevity will bring about whole new stages of life. Further in a multi-stage life, lockstep comes to an end. There is only one way to structure a three stage life – education, then work and retirement. There are many ways to structure a multi-stage life, so we will see the end of a strong link between age and stage. In the future you could be an undergraduate and be 20, 40 or 60. You could be a senior manager and be 30, 50 or 70. To support this multi stage life we will, and are already, seeing changes in how society structures itself. When life extends you reach previous milestones (such as marriage, having children, etc.) at different times, and ages are redefined.

 

“The antithesis of vitality is stress.” -Gratton / Scott

 

Work-life balance may become more important. What’s emotional spillover and how do we positively impact it?

If you take a 100 year life seriously and calculate how much you need to save for a pension, it’s likely that people will have to work in some form into their late 70s.  This is why we think a three stage life can’t survive as it involves a 60 year career. While working for 60 years may solve your financial problems, it does nothing to solve the deeper issues. We emphasize that living a good life requires investing in intangible assets – productive assets such as skills and knowledge, vitality assets such as health and friendships, and—of growing importance—transformational assets, the ability to deal with change and transitions. While working for longer solves your financial problems, it means your productive, vitality and transformational assets are run into the ground. This is why we think a multi stage life with breaks and transitions is inevitable, with people spending time in between stages recuperating and rebuilding their strength and talents. A longer career also means that at some points you may well take on a traditional job where financial assets are your main focus but at other points you will seek jobs that better balance life and work.

 

Stress at work is associated with a 20% increase of heart disease.

 

The Value of Education

Talk about education and how its value may change.

If working life extends over 60 years, it’s hard to think of any education you can learn at 20 that can last that long and remain that relevant. This is especially true if you believe the stories of technologists and the rise of Artificial Intelligence.  Either because your industry becomes obsolete or because your knowledge becomes outdated, you will need to seriously reinvest in education at different stages later in life. Perhaps this education will in part be provided by traditional sources, but it is also likely that we will see new organizations develop to fill the gap.

It is an interesting question then what you should learn when young if you know that at some point this knowledge will become obsolete. One common sense prediction is that when young you learn how to learn, how to think creatively and critically, and how to evaluate from a broad-based disciplinary perspective. Then you may add to this with some detailed specific technical knowledge knowing, however, that in a decade or more this may become irrelevant.

 

“In the end, long life is the reward, strength, and beauty.” -Grace Paley

 

Saving for the 100 Year Life

What are the implications for retirement? It seems daunting enough today to save with current lifespans.

As currently understood retirement is a product of three stage life thinking. It is already being undermined with a century long downward trend in those aged 65 staying on at work reversing itself. More and more people are either working past retirement or working after retirement.

Copyright Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott, Used by Permission Copyright Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott, Used by Permission

In a multi-stage life you will need to prepare not just for eventual retirement but also for career breaks and career transitions, all of which will require financing. Lifetime planning will not just be about end of life planning.

Retirement will still exist, e.g. a time when you stop work, but it will occur later. At traditional retirement age you will see more varied behavior. Either people will choose to carry on in their existing roles and continue to earn if their skills and firm allow, or they will break and do something different. We are seeing a rise in entrepreneurship in people in their 60s. Becoming what we term “an independent producer” is an interesting option. In this stage of life you do something that blends work and fun together, earn just enough to cover your expenses and so keep your savings intact.

 

“If you want to live a long life, focus on making contributions.” -Hans Selye

 

I found the Downton Abbey effect fascinating. Would you share more about this and its implications? 

Success is the maximum utilization of the ability that you have.”

Zig Ziglar

32 Quotes to Build Your Confidence

Are You Confident?

Self-confidence: That feeling that we know we can do it, that we have the ability, that we can reach higher and achieve our goals.

To some, confidence feels like a fleeting illusion, a mirage in the desert of dreams. Others learn to tap into confidence like a radiating power.

Don’t mistake confidence for arrogance. Arrogance is destructive, false, and breeds a negative response.

Confidence is something entirely different, armor for everyday battles.

Here are some quotes on confidence to arm you for the day ahead:

 

“You are the only person on earth who can use your ability.” –Zig Ziglar

 

“The man of genius inspires us with a boundless confidence in our own powers.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

“I found I was more confident when I stopped trying to be someone else’s definition of beautiful and started being my own.” –Remington Miller

 

“What could we accomplish if we knew we could not fail?” –Eleanor Roosevelt

 

“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” –Hellen Keller

 

“The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.” –Ayn Rand

 

“If you want to improve your self-worth, stop giving other people the calculator.” –Tim Fargo

 

“Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.” –Lucille Ball

 

“Each time we face our fear, we gain strength, courage, and confidence in the doing.” –Theodore Roosevelt

 

“You have no control over other people’s taste, so focus on staying true to your own.” –Tim Gunn

 

“Confidence comes with maturity, being more accepting of yourself.” -Nicole Scherzinger

 

“Confidence comes not from always being right but from not fearing to be wrong.” -Peter T. Mcintyre

 

“The quickest way to acquire self-confidence is to do exactly what you are afraid to do.” –Unknown

 

“With confidence, you have won before you have started.” –Marcus Garvey

 

“Be humble in your confidence yet courageous in your character.” –Melanie Koulouris

 

“With realization of one’s own potential and self-confidence in one’s ability, one can build a better world.” –Dalai Lama

 

“All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then success is sure.” -Mark Twain

12 Ways Brands Get Off Track

12 Sins of Branding

Companies, like people, can go off track. A simple error compounds. The wrong attitude takes root. A poorly designed strategy is implemented. Perhaps the focus is just a bit off, sending everything off course. It happens.

What do you do if you are off track? How do you recognize the signs?

There are two branding experts that I turn to when it comes to branding and revitalizing brands: Larry Light and Joan Kiddon. They not only have the experience, but their advice is my favorite kind: practical and actionable. I’m not one for studying theories that I can’t immediately use.

I recently spoke with the authors about the troubling behaviors and attitudes that cause companies to mess up their brand. They have identified 12 ways that brands go awry. Their updated book on branding, Six Rules of Brand Revitalization, is a must-read on the subject.

 

“Arrogance leads to complacency which destroys innovation and leaves you out of date.”

 

The Arrogance of Success

How do you pull a culture out of arrogance, especially if they don’t realize it?

Often it takes a sense of urgency, a perception of an impending crisis. Change is difficult. An arrogant culture resists change until it seems that there is no option. Change or die. Dramatize the need for change. The most dangerous disease is complacency. Arrogance can lead to complacency. Complacency can keep your eyes closed to innovation and leave you out of date with your customers. The common expression, “Go back to basics,” is often used to defend resisting change. Going backwards will not guide marketers how to best go forward.

 

“Culture change is led from the top. The leader sets the tone.”

 

Culture change is led from the top. The leader sets the tone. Sometimes a leadership change is necessary. This is what happened at McDonald’s in 2002. The new leadership immediately dramatized the need for change. Jim Cantalupo, the new CEO, created a sense of urgency.

We recommend the four steps of Breaking the LOCK on Brand Troubles: Fix Leadership; then leadership can fix the Organization alignment. Cultural change is an imperative. Knowledge is a powerful force. Become a learning culture…

 

12 Branding Sins

1: The arrogance of success

2: The comfort of complacency

3: The building of organizational barriers and bureaucratic processes

4: The focus on analyst satisfaction rather than on customer satisfaction

5: The belief that what worked yesterday will work today

6: The failure to innovate

7: The lack of focus on the core customer

8: The backtracking to basics

9: The loss of relevance

10: The lack of a coherent Plan to Win

11: The lack of a balanced Brand-Business Scorecard

12: The disregard for the changing world

 

 

Is there one that is most often the culprit in brand failures?

As we say in the book, the Twelve Tendencies for Trouble are not independent of each other. These are all interconnected forces. A company that succumbs to one seems to succumb to more than one. There is no single culprit. Each of the Twelve Tendencies for Trouble must be avoided.

 

“Problem solution is the most effective way to stay relevant.”

 

Encourage a Culture of Innovation

The Surprising Truth About the Power of #Now

 Are you overwhelmed and stressed?

Stuck?

Finding it difficult to make decisions?

Dr. Max McKeown is known as an author, a strategist, and a speaker. His new research is all about the power of now, outlining personal strategies to live better in the now. We can all learn to be more Nowist and increase our satisfaction even as we pursue our goals. No more endless worrying. No more feeling stuck.

I recently asked Max to share more about his newest book, #Now: The Surprising Truth About the Power of Now.

 

“Let go to get going.” -Max McKeown

 

The Power of #Now

This book is different from your previous work. What led to your study of the power of #Now?

All we’ve got is #Now! You, me, everyone. This is something we all have in common. Each moment of Now is about 3 seconds long, which means that your life is composed of about a billion moments. Our past is made of moments we can’t change; our future is made of moments that we can change. And Now is where you can make all the changes that will shape your life.

The Power of Now

You’ll see that the circles on the cover represent the past and future while the # represents Now. It’s when your life is experiences, and action can be taken or not taken. And the book is about finding joy in moving forward. And so the book is also about the psychology of motivating yourself because motivation means to be moved.

 

“Now is where you can make all the changes that will shape your life.” -Max McKeown

  

Lean Towards Action

What’s a Nowist mindset? What are some of the characteristics of a Nowist? 

The Nowist mindset is about the ability and desire to always keep moving forward! And because it’s about a flexible mindset, rather than something fixed, we can all be a little bit more Nowist.

For most people, most of the time, it is better to lean towards action rather than inaction. It’s more productive and ultimately more enjoyable to listen to the voice telling you to keep moving rather than to slow down. And its healthier to embrace and use the spontaneous energy of life rather than complain, slow down or stop.

Nowists tend to take pleasure in the work itself; they don’t just wait until the job is finished. And that means they get more enjoyment out of everyday living and working, even when that includes disappointment or crisis. They are hard to stop and benefit from a powerful do-it-now energy. They roll with the punches and demonstrate what the book refers to as a ‘feisty spirit of survivorship’ even when faced with the worst that life has to offer.

 

“For most people, it is better to lean towards action rather than inaction.” -Max McKeown

 

Contrast that with a Thenist mindset.

We all have this amazing, really useful, ability to remember the past and imagine the future. The problem comes when you spend too much time and energy worrying about things rather than taking action to make things better. Some people try not to think about what they need to do next because they are too harsh on themselves. Other people think they are powerless, so they give up rather than figuring out useful next steps. And others forget to take joy in the day-to-day which means they are only kind of happy at the end of the task, for two seconds before worry or ambition sets in. Living as a Thenist can be very tiring and not much fun – you might miss out on living.

 

Believe You Can Make Good Things Happen 

How is this related to optimism?

In a way, a Nowist mindset is about active optimism. You don’t just passively pretend that good things will happen. Instead you believe that you can make good things happen. And then you take action that will lead to a better future.

We need the ability to consider the past and the future, and we benefit when we can see our actions as connected with what happens to us. The best things are likely to happen when we combine the ability to look back and look ahead with the willingness to leap into action. We look while leaping, and leap while looking.

Let go to get going

Of all of the studies you cite in your research, what surprised you most?