By, Silvia Ascarelli, Senior News Editor at Marketwatch, based in New York
Living way beyond retirement age will soon be commonplace — and it will mean changing our approach to both work and retirement.
Odds are rising that you will live to be 100 years old.
That reality means re-examining your financial planning for retirement, and even how you think of retirement. What’s for certain is that retiring in your 60s, what has been standard, is less likely.
Careers will change as well. We likely will need to reinvent ourselves several times over in the course of our working life and remain open to change.
On the positive side, this gain in longevity is likely to be a boost in our healthy years of life, not of more years plagued by poor health and dementia.
In the recently published book, “The 100-Year Life,” two London Business School professors, Lynda Gratton, a management professor, and Andrew Scott, an economics professor, discuss how to manage your “productive” assets (knowledge and skills), “vitality” assets (health and friendships with people of all ages) and “transformational” assets (the capacity to manage change and transitions).
They argue that the years between 65 and 100 will essentially be redistributed throughout life, rather than becoming one 35-year-long retirement (with the accompanying headache of how to pay for it). So that could mean staying in school longer, or going back for more education in your 50s, taking a mid-career break to travel, or all of that. Companies will become more flexible as well.
Working in your 70s will no longer be unusual; indeed, the new retirement age could turn out to be 85.
Don’t groan at the thought.
“It’s not that you’re old for longer; it’s that you’re young for longer,” Gratton said.
Andrew Scott and Lynda Gratton, authors of “The 100-Year Life.”
But perhaps the clearest way to think about what this longer life means is to imagine a conversation today with your 90-year-old self. What would your future self tell you to do now, whether you are in your 20s, 40s or 60s, to prepare for the day you turn 90?
Scott and Gratton know the answers for themselves.
“I should give him more money,” said Scott, who is 51 years old. “If there’s 200 bucks on the table, I can take it for myself, but my 90-year-old self says, actually, I want 100 of that.”
“Mine told me to start walking,” said the 61-year-old Gratton, who has become obsessed with walking 10,000 steps a day. “I haven’t taken any notice of it, but my 90-year-old self also has said why don’t you slow down a bit and take a bit of time out, which I’ve never allowed myself to do.”
More advice? Rekindle old friendships and learn something new.
The pair have developed a 32-question quiz to help people see whether this longer life will be a gift or a curse.
Here’s a sample:
Why is a fresh perspective important?
“If longevity goes from 70 to 100, it’s like going from a 10,000-meter [10k] race to a 15,000-meter race,” Scott says. “You can’t run a 15,000-meter race at the same pace as a 10,000-meter race. And if you do, that’s miserable.”
You may need to take a break after 10,000 meters and then resume. You may need to keep going a bit longer to gather more resources for the next stage of your life.
“But you have to do something,” he says.
Silvia Ascarelli is a senior news editor for MarketWatch based in New York. You can follow her on Twitter @SilviaAscarelli.
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