We began conceptualizing AgeBrilliantly.org as a platform for adults to take charge of their lives so they could lead fulfilling, elongated lives. Underlying our mission were key facts and norms:
- Young adults today are likely to live longer than they think and have no plans for it. They look at available role models — parents, grandparents, people retiring around age 60 and people in nursing homes – and don’t realize that thanks to changes in health care, nutrition, etc., they are likely to have an elongated life living to 100+.
- Boomers were raised to expect that they would retire and have only a few golden years. However, as they matured, they discovered that they may live into their 80s, and didn’t have any solid plans for how to use the “extra time” after retirement (as the industry refers to it.)
- While studies over the last 30 years ago found workers were focused on retiring at the “traditional” ages of 60-65, recent ones were finding that awareness of longevity was changing attitudes. A 2019 Survey from Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies found that over 70% of retirement aged people want to keep working for financial reasons and to “age well”. They were aware of studies showing that people who continued working at that age tend to live longer and healthier. For instance, a 2015 study of 83,000 people found that those who worked past 65 were 3X more likely to report being in good health than those who had retired. A prior study of men aged 62 who retired compared them to men who continued to work, and found the latter were living longer.
- Unfortunately, most older adults, financial planners and industry experts still advocate the norm of retiring at the traditional age, even if people don’t have plans for how they might spend the rest of their adult lives. Few realize the traditional retirement age was chosen more than a century ago when people’s average life spans were in the early 40s! Why not plan for a 60-80+ year adult life?!
To paraphrase the ad campaign that “a mind is a terrible thing to waste”, Age Brilliantly believes that “the rest of my life is a terrible thing to waste”.
As a society, we’re doing a disservice to middle and later age adults by mandating by law (e.g., China mandates retirement for men at age 60 and 55 for women) or encouraging with norms and institutional labels triggered by chronological age (65 for Social Security registration) or life event (such as selling your business) that you simply stop working for income, with no real plans for the rest of your life.
Today’s later-stage adults confront the “retirement conundrum”: they have to decide whether to follow the prevailing norm of retiring from work around 60-70 years of age, or not. For those who want to continue working for financial reasons, purpose or passion, they have to wage a sometimes lonely fight to stay productive and be rewarded for it. Let’s help them understand that the age of 65 for traditional retirement was arbitrarily chosen a century ago, and need not dictate their life course. Suggesting options they can take after retirement, such as volunteering for charitable organizations, teaching, coaching, mentoring, writing a book, etc., if they have no plans post-retirement. But waiting till then with such activities is “too little, too late”.
Let’s take charge of our elongated life as early as possible. Whether you’re 25, 35, 45, or 55, why not start NOW thinking about how you want to spend a fulfilling, elongated life to 100+? Maybe you want to do like Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (age 86) and build a fulfilling life with financial income, purpose and passion throughout your life? If you’re younger, NOW is the time to start having this conversation with your parents, who may not be thinking about it yet. I work with lots of interns and students in their 20s who have parents in their 50s who plan to retire in the next 5-10 years and have no plans for what to do in the future. What a great way to create a two way conversation!
That’s why Age Brilliantly was founded: to give people of all ages a forum for imagining their futures and discussing with other people with different life experiences what they can do with their 60-80 years of adulthood.