Next Stage: In Your Retirement, Create the Life You Want
By Tom Wilson
In the 21st Century, we realized that more and more people are living longer than ever. If you were born in 1900, your life expectancy would be no greater than 50; today it is approaching 80, and many are exceeding 100. There are over 10,000 people per day turning 65, and this will last for 19 more years. These people have one thing in common – they have 20 to 30 years of open lifetime ahead of them. This is both exciting and scary.
Much has changed, and much is being learned about what promotes longevity and quality of life. We used to have a full schedule, but now Tuesday looks no different than Saturday. We may think we have enough money for retirement, but are concerned whether it will last. As we leave our work colleagues behind, we find gaps in our community. We still have our health for now, although recovery from activities is taking longer. We want to do many things, but fear that we will soon be bored. How do (or will) you feel if you say you’re “retired”?
This book explores the latest research and activities on how people are creating a new life in this “Next Stage.” This is one stage in the dynamics of a lifetime and is the focus for this book. There are many books on this subject, but few truly bring together the critical questions one must deal with as they move away from the structure of work and raising children, and face years and years of open, undefined opportunity.
There are five areas of primary interest to most people as they enter this stage. Each is explored deeply within the book, and there are worksheets to assist the reader in developing a Master Plan. These questions are:
1. What are you going to do with your time?
Research clearly shows that people who are engaged in meaningful activities live longer and better than those who have no sense of purpose. Discovering when one feels truly engaged is an important task associated with this question. It is also important to understand your core talents and interests. Then, you can create opportunities to do those things that give you the greatest meaning. Research also shows that happiness comes from doing things that are meaningful, but meaning does not come from doing things that just make you happy.
2. Will you have enough money?
This is the one area most people worry about. For some, this is not a difficult question because they have enough financial resources to live the life they want. For some, they will clearly not have enough income and must continue working. Many people are in the middle. This chapter examines income sources and ways to determine what you will have. You will also examine your expenses in relation to what is fixed, semi-fixed, variable and special events. Then, you can compare the income and expenses over time and develop a strategy for living the life you seek.
3. Who do you want to live with?
This question is more than just about one’s significant other. However, the divorce rate of people over 60 is significantly higher than other age groups. This chapter examines your array of relationships and asks you to examine whether these need to change. Good relationships are shown to be a key element to longevity and quality of life. You will examine the different types of relationships and how they create a series of concentric circles from your significant ones to your network of acquaintances. The challenge is to assess each of these relationships and identify what needs to change.
4. How do you stay healthy?
Advances in medicine have created this “Next Stage.” Besides money, this is what people worry about the most. Scientists are discovering the drivers of aging and exploring ways to extend longevity at the cellular level. There are new indicators of what promotes longevity. Plus, there are clear things you can do to support your health and increase your resilience. Finally, you will examine what is emerging in medicine and longevity studies by looking at the future of research and development. It is an exciting time to be alive, and you can do a few things that will enable you to be strong, vibrant and active for longer periods than you thought.
5. How do you want to live?
How you pull these factors together into a lifestyle that supports a healthy, meaningful and connected life is just as important as any of the elements. How do you describe who you are during this next stage? We will review ten (10) different lifestyles of individuals and examine many examples of how these are played out by others. Few people pursue just one area, but they create a combination of activities that evolve and change over time. You will be able to identify which are most important to you and how to describe the new you.
The challenge for people entering or living in this Next Stage is that time is not on your side. When will you do the things that create a sense of excitement, meaning and engagement, for you – if not now, when? There will come a time when you won’t be able to do the things that you can currently do. Don’t wait to create the life you want. Tom Rush, the singer and songwriter, wrote, “You grow older when you replace hope with regret.” Bring hope to your life.
My wish for you is that this book becomes an important resource. You will find summaries of the latest research and exciting ideas for this stage; you will hear stories and examples of what others do and feel; and you will have worksheets and references to help you build your Master Plan for your next stage. Consider what Henry David Thoreau said, “Life isn’t about finding yourself; it’s about creating yourself. So, live the life you imagined.”