As mentioned in a previous post, Living to 100: the changing world of work, the majority of children born in rich countries today can expect to live to more than 100. We are currently still living our lives in the same way that our parents and even grandparents did, but this approach can’t last forever.
For example, for those of us in our twenties and thirties, we won’t be able to retire at the age of our parents - indeed, to retire on 50% of your final salary income having saved 10% of your income each year it’s predicted that you’d need to work into your late seventies or early eighties. At the same time, working for that long is going to take its toll on our mental and physical fitness, while our enthusiasm for life could also suffer.
This means that we need to reimagine the structure of our lives and the current three-stage model of education and career followed by retirement needs to be replaced by a multi-stage model with new stages and new ages and the potential for greater individual journeys.
What does this mean for employees?
If you are fortunate enough in your twenties or thirties your life is going to be long, complicated and varied. To make the most of it there are a number of things you could be doing now to make sure that you live a happy and fulfilled life.
Adapt to the 100-year mindset
You won't be able to work 60 hours a week until you retire, you’ll definitely burn out before then, and also won't have been able to take the opportunity to enjoy any of it while you were young. As well as thinkng about your career and finances, you also have to think about your health, the things you take pleasure in, you friends and family and your own productive abilities. A longer life will lead us to reassess how we balance these financial and non- financial forces over our lives.
Invest in yourself
Living a longer life means that you’ll need to invest more to support yourself when you can’t work. This means probably saving more money than you currently do, especially as we won’t be lucky enough to gain top public sector or final salary pensions. This is obviously going to be hard when you’ve got rent or a mortgage to pay for, a student loan to pay off, and even a family to provide for, but you need to think about the costs to your lives now and in the future.
Invent your role model
Unfortunately, you can’t rely on current role models, so you need to invent your own and be your own role model. The career paths and life decisions that worked for our parents won’t work for us; we’ll need to make different choices while our children will make different decisions to us.
Refocus and update
Constantly update both your hard skills and your soft skills to stay relevant in the ever-changing world, to keep yourself employable, and also to challenge yourself and stay interested.
Understand where you are in your working world, what skills you currently possess, what you are good at, where you can improve and how you see yourself in a future work environment. Understand how the working world is going to constantly change and where you fit into this.
Learn that a work-life balance is not going to be an easy task, especially over such a long career span and remember those set-backs you’ve faced so you can build resilience that you can take with you for future experiences and disappointments.
Having a diverse network gives you opportunities you never thought you had, and within it is the person you could become. It is important who you meet and how you meet people. In such a global world, having an understanding of other cultures, other types of people and an insight into your context in the wider world can work wonders.
Build your own multi-stage
Remember that it’s unlikely that you won’t have a career for life and you will probably have to retrain and refocus your energy at some point, possibly more than once. But with these career changes, you’ve also more opportunities to take on career paths you never thought achievable, while you’ll be able to spend time during your working life enjoying it and not just when you retire, for example by taking time off to go travelling.