A very memorable business professional I worked with is a marketing genius who could always see or ignite the next business trend coming down the pike. When I was thinking about a post for this “Fending Off Retirement” blog, I was reminded of the work he did with Ken Dychtwald, an early visionary on the aging of America.
That led me to revisit Ken’s site, www.agewave.com, and see that his company is still helping corporations and people like us understand the full retirement and aging landscape. I was very familiar with Ken’s seminal book, Age Wave: How the Most Important Trend of Our Time Will Change Your Future, but a chapter in another one he published more recently really caught my eye.
The chapter in the book A New Purpose: Redefining Money, Family, Work, Retirement and Success is titled “Dreams and Goals Aren’t Just for Kids—They’re for the Kid at Heart.” Though the book was published in 2009, Ken’s advice is timeless and on the mark.
Back in the 80s and 90s I met Ken several times, and anyone in his presence would see him as an energetic ball of fire. He exudes youth and vitality, so I think his voice in this particular chapter on holding fast to your “kid at heart” is authentic and true.
As you think about your next act, I offer some highlights from Ken’s book…great food for thought:
- “The literal meaning of retirement is to retreat or withdraw.” In that context, retirement seems like a negative for anyone. Ken says it is better to think about retirement as a time to “reboot, reengage and find ways to apply your skills and hard won insights to new endeavors and to learn new skills and tackle old problems as you infuse purpose in the many years still before you.”
- “Increased longevity is forcing us all to think about what we could become next.” Well said, Ken. We’re never too old for an interesting “next”. “Longevity gives you bonus years—which aren’t about being old for a longer time. They are bonus years for new achievement—second, third and fourth acts—making a difference in ways you might never had imagined.”
- “Middlescense” is the term Ken uses for the period between adulthood and older age (roughly age 50 to 75). “Instead of learning, working and retiring in chronological order, in middlescense you can move in and out of these life phases as it suits you.”
- “When you bloom or go through a metamorphosis as a young adult there is beauty and innocence to it—but you are just beginning to discover who you are. When you bloom or go through a metamorphosis in middlescense, there’s an authority to it—you have knowledge, roots and perspective.”
- “It’s never too late to discover your calling. You can set new goals at any age, pursue new dreams and reach for something grand.”
- “Keeping yourself vital is the ongoing thought of what you want to be and how you want to use your life.”
- And finally, Ken’s book includes two great quotes from the mythology expert Joseph Campbell. “Follow your bliss and doors will open where there were no doors before.” And, “we must be willing to get rid of the life we planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”
That’s all from Ken–and me–today. Gotta go now…and grab that life. –KAS
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