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The 100-Year Life

A topic discussed at this week’s CMI Women's Conference was increasing life expectancy. Avivah Wittenberg-Cox asked us, would we like to know how long we're going to live? Only one or two brave souls in a room of 200 people put their hands up. While objectively it may feel like a good thing to know, in reality it’s far too big and scary. Many of us will live to be 100. That opens up questions about the relevance of a three-phase life, firstly learning, secondly working to gather financial resources and then winding down. Instead, Wittenberg-Cox proposes a four-part model where we learn, we achieve, and the third part of our lives becomes a time for ‘later thriving’ before a final phase, when we are probably well over 70, of ‘harvesting’ all that we have learnt and the networks that we have built to allow for a fulfilling wind down. The opportunity is for each phase of life to be extended. That’s particularly good news for women who often find that their 30s and 40s are stretched trying to balance the demands of family and work. If we think of careers not as 30-year sprints but as 50-year marathons, a longer-term perspective opens up in which there’s time for learning, career breaks, side hustles and changes of direction. People may imagine that anything over 60 means winding down and slipping into a comfortable retirement. For a whole variety of reasons that's less likely to be the situation. For many people there will be economic drivers. For those who are fortunate enough to have resources behind them, the question becomes, what am I going to do that feels worthwhile? How am I going to continue to contribute? How can I keep learning? What new skills do I need to continue to be effective either in a corporate environment, or perhaps in some other world? Those feel like big questions to be considered and debated. A thinking partner who is completely outside your current circle may be helpful. If that feels interesting to you, please get in touch. References

Wittenberg-Cox. A. (2021). “Life’s 4 Quarters – and how the Map Shapes the Road.” Forbes. Nov 10. Gratton L. and Scott A. J. (2016). “The 100 Year Life. Living and Working in an Age of Longevity “. Bloomsbury.

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