Extra Years – Managing Our Windfall

Since the turn of the last century, improved nutrition and advances in medicine and healthcare have added 30 years to our average life expectancy.  Without question, this is a remarkable achievement, but one that also requires each of us to think differently about “old age” and how we choose to live our lives.

For example, in Working Through Demographic Change, authors Elliott Jaques and William Zinke wrote, “People are living longer and in better health, and the meaning of adult life itself has changed: a whole new stage of mature adulthood has come onto the scene, and old age has been pushed back by many years.”

Career development expert Helen Harkness, Ph.D., also believes that we should reject the view that increasing longevity extends old age.  In her book, Don’t Stop the Career Clock, she wrote, “If these extra years are handled wisely, our middle age will double dramatically into a new second midlife, while our ‘old’ age shrinks.”  For that reason, she advises that we think about these extra years as a precious gift and “take an active hand in managing our windfall.”

Similarly, Laura L. Carstensen writes, “People are happiest when they feel embedded in something larger than themselves and when they are needed.”  Therefore, she encourages everyone living in the second half of life to envision the steps—large and small—that they can take to ensure a bright future:

”Invest in yourself by learning something new.  Design your world so that healthy habits come naturally.  Diversify your social network by befriending a person from a different generation.  Start a business that puts others to work.  Think creatively about ways that an unprecedented number of mature, talented, healthy adults can address society’s great challenges.”1

As the founding director of the Stanford Center on Longevity and the author of A Long Bright Future, Carstensen has come to believe that the actions of today’s generation of older people will set the course for decades.

Harkness also agrees that we are in a new age of learning how to live and work throughout our life spans.  She writes: “By knowing what we want and doing what we love, we can continue life’s journey with creativity, wisdom, power, and purpose.


Reprinted by permission of Money Quotient, NP

Image Copyright: halfpoint / 123RF Stock Photo

Albert Bandura & Self-Efficacy

Albert Bandura, Ph.D. is regarded as one of the most eminent psychologists of our time.  Bandura started his career in 1953 and still maintains an active schedule of teaching and research at Stanford University.  On the occasion of his 80th birthday, he wrote:

“As I reflect on my journey to this octogenarian milepost, I am reminded of the saying that it is not the miles traveled but the amount of tread remaining that is important.  When I last checked, I still have too much tread left to gear down or to conclude this engaging Odyssey.” (more…)

A Shift in Priorities

A shift in prioritiesThe inaugural American Dream Study, conducted in 2007, revealed an insatiable hunger for more and better material possessions.  In addition, the bar was continually rising for what was considered “basic necessities.”  However, across all social strata, the economic crisis has been a loud wake up call.

Respondents to the 2009 version of the study reported that they are eating at home more often, shopping more at big box discount stores, spending less on movies, and moving away from brand-name products to generics (www.metlife.com).  And, unlike previous downturns, no one seems to be immune. (more…)

The Self-Directed Life

“We encourage you to set the bar high, no matter what you’re aiming for in life.”

Marc Eisenson, Gerri Detweiler
Nancy Castleman
Invest in Yourself:
Six Secrets to a Rich Life

Many of us spend our lives trying to please others or pursuing goals that others have set for us.  In contrast, the authors of Invest in Yourself advocate the self-designed life, “where you invest your time and energy getting what you want and doing what you believe in—not wasting them on things you don’t really want, but think you should have.”

The first step to take, in changing the direction your life, is to clarify your values and priorities.  That is because identifying and articulating what is most important to you will increase your self-understanding and strengthen your sense of autonomy.  An excellent resource to help you in this process is Values Clarification by Sidney Simon, Leland Howe, and Howard Kirschenbaum.  This book is described as “the classic guide to discovering your truest feelings, beliefs, and goals.” (more…)

Balance and Pupose

To balance one’s life is to bring all areas of life into a state of equilibrium or stability. Focusing on only one or two areas of life can work for awhile (and is sometimes necessary), but eventually life will begin to feel out of kilter and then start spinning out of control.

For example, individuals may have this experience when their careers have taken precedence at the expense of other areas of life such as relationships, leisure, or health. Hopefully, this imbalance can be recognized and corrected before important relationships disintegrate, leisure becomes a forgotten art, and health is compromised. (more…)

Taking Charge of Your Life

Many of us spend our lives trying to please others or pursuing goals that others have set for us.  In contrast, the authors of Invest in Yourself, Marc Eisenson, Gerri Detweiler, and Nancy Castleman, advocate the self-designed life—the conscious choice to “invest your time and energy getting what you want and doing what you believe in—not wasting them on things you don’t really want, but think you should have.”  In fact, they wholeheartedly recommend setting the bar high, “no matter what you are aiming for in life.”

The first step to taking charge of your life is clarifying your values and priorities.  The reason this exercise in self-reflection is so powerful is because identifying what is most important to you will increase your self-understanding and strengthen your sense of autonomy.  An excellent resource to help you in this process is Values Clarification by Sidney Simon, Leland Howe, and Howard Kirschenbaum.  This book is described as “the classic guide to discovering your truest feelings, beliefs, and goals.” (more…)