About Birthdays and Aging

About Birthdays and Aging

“I’m 64 and I am loving my life more than ever. My friends (many of whom are retiring) ask me when I am going to retire. I tell them that I would love to die on a Friday night, knowing that I got to finish another week doing what I love. What a blessing that is. I worked for The Gallup Organization for 13 years and they have a question they have been asking in workplaces for almost 25 years: At work, I get to do what I do best every day. Sadly, only one person in five answers yes to that question. Twenty percent of us. And over time the numbers have never changed, as I understand it. We are the lucky ones, the ones in the 20 percent who get to do what we do best every day, to dream big, to keep going.”

—Dennis Welch, president at Articulate PR Communications, Austin, TX

“I am grateful to be alive, I am grateful to have reached the age of 36, and to have great relationships with my parents who I love very much… Through various practices and studies, I work towards letting go of my material attachments and fears related to death, but at 36 years old, I mostly understand Krishna’s words to Arjuna via the Bhagavad Gita intellectually at this point: ‘While speaking learned words, you are mourning for what is not worthy of grief, those who are wise lament neither for the living nor the dead,’ but I am hopeful that I will internalize his words as I age.”

—Ajani Charles, professional photographer, director, and producer, Toronto, ON, Canada

“I follow the teachings of the Buddha who reminded us all that our earth was truly an empty place devoid of all things for which many of us endlessly and relentlessly craved throughout our life under illusion. Psychoanalyst, sociologist, and philosopher Erich Fromm, who was not a Buddhist but who had in his later years been briefly ordained as a Buddhist monk, classified humans into two main groups: Unproductive and Productive. The former consists of those who live to eat while the latter represents those who eat to live, or to be — to be alive and to be productive for oneself and all humans. Dr. Fromm’s view of humanism was aptly summarized by your astute remark: ‘The paradox of the good life is how to be detached from worldly things while being fully engaged in the world.’”

—Dhanarat Yongvanichjit

“My mother used to say: ‘Si la jeunesse savait et la vieillesse pouvait.’ (‘If youth only knew, if age only could!’)Healthy aging is not limiting in terms of what one can or not do; on the contrary, it is freeing!”

—Agnes M. da Costa, head of the regulation advisory office at the Ministry of Mines and Energy, Brazil

“70 is an incredible number to have achieved. In all the ancient Jewish texts, the number 70 is associated with strength and is a combination of the number 7 which represents perfection and the number 10 which represents completion. What an auspicious occasion for you to celebrate! Looking forward to watching you soar into your next decade.”

—Sharon Ufberg, co-founder of Borrowed Wisdom, Hermosa Beach, CA

“Sir Arthur C. Clarke wrote his own epitaph: ‘He never grew up, but he never stopped growing.’”

—Rebecca Hoffberger, founder and director of the American Visionary Art Museum, Baltimore, MD

“I think this is what Maslow meant when he wrote about self actualization, reaching that point in life that offers a 360-degree perspective with the beauty of hindsight to help us view and experience the present and the future from a new vantage point that is truly beautiful and filled with excitement.”

—Jerry Kitchel, consultant at HEART, Upland, CA

“I’ve always believed that in our 20s, the world is our oyster, though we don’t know it; in our 30s we’re focused on approval; in our 40s we have the confidence but not the wisdom; in our 50s, if we’re lucky, we have the wisdom and the confidence; in our 60’s the world is our oyster, and we know it!”

—Nicki Anderson, director of women’s leadership program at Benedictine University,Naperville, IL

Aging Gracefully.

Aging Gracefully.

As we cultivate our life, our beauty becomes as much about what we are creating and doing as it is about our appearance.

We tend to associate youth with beauty, but the truth is that beauty transcends every age. Just as a deciduous tree is stunning in all its stages–from its full leafy green in the summer to its naked skeleton during winter and everything in between–human beings are beautiful throughout their life spans.

The early years of our lives tend to be about learning and experiencing as much as we possibly can. We move through the world like sponges, absorbing the ideas of other people and the world. Like a tree in spring, we are waking up to the world. In this youthful phase of life, our physical strength, youth, and beauty help open doors and attract attention.

Gradually, we begin to use the information we have gathered to form ideas and opinions of our own. As we cultivate our philosophy about life, our beauty becomes as much about what we are saying, doing, and creating as it is about our appearance. Like a tree in summer, we become full, expressive, beautiful, and productive.

When the time comes for us to let go of the creations of our middle lives, we are like a tree in autumn dropping leaves, as we release our past attachments and preparing for a new phase of growth. The children move on, and careers shift or end. The lines on our faces, the stretch marks, and the grey hairs are beautiful testaments to the fullness of our experience.

In the winter of our lives, we become stripped down to our essence like a tree. We may become more radiant than ever at this stage, because our inner light shines brighter through our eyes as time passes.

Beauty at this age comes from the very core of our being–our essence.

This essence is a reminder that there is nothing to fear in growing older and that there is a kind of beauty that comes only after one has spent many years on earth.

by Madysin Taylor

Working Longer and Differently: The 21st Century Innovation Model

Working Longer and Differently: The 21st Century Innovation Model

To unleash productivity, innovation, and growth in the 21st century, we must realign discussions about the future of work to recognise the importance of aging and longevity – unprecedented, accelerating trends that are reshaping economies, societies and individual lives around the globe. Human history has never seen such a dramatic demographic transformation, with a billion over 60 – doubling by mid-century – lives reaching 100 as a matter of course and a world that has more old than young. This megatrend opens an opportunity to power historic prosperity, but only if employers and others across global society lead innovative strategies to transform the future of work for the era of longevity. As the World Economic Forum put it over a decade ago in their seminal Peril or Promise, the paths are clear and stark.

Despite the wide-reaching impacts of aging and longevity, conversations about the future of work typically focus on other trends. These are certainly important, but they’re not the whole story. Digitalisation is changing how we work – new tools enable virtual work, and artificial intelligence and other advanced technologies drive automation that is creating, disrupting and changing how we work and at what. There’s also an ongoing transformation of who works, as women have entered the workforce in huge numbers and employers focus on diversity and inclusion. Additionally, new types of enterprises are changing what work people do, with the rise of new industries like home care and new work models like the gig economy. Twentieth century manufacturing is being replaced by 21st century services.

Each of these reflects a broader trend in society, yet expert discussions still too often ignore perhaps the most fundamental shift in today’s world. This is population aging – a historic shift that impacts nearly every aspect of life and is only now picking up speed. As S&P Global warned in their equally prescient report about the same time as WEF’s, “No other force is likely to shape the future of national economic health, public finances, policymaking [and markets] as the irreversible rate at which the world’s population is aging”.

In the growing number of “super-aged” countries, like Japan and Germany, older adults already make up more than 20% of the population – and counting. At the same time, lives are longer than ever, routinely reaching into our 80s, 90s, and beyond.

Though this demographic shift has often been framed as an economic and workforce challenge, it actually opens up a number of opportunities. According to Aegon’s global survey of more than 16,000 people, nearly 70% of respondents envision working in some capacity later in life – transforming the traditional retirement model to create a new period for productivity and income.  In fact, OECD countries could realise a cumulative USD 2 trillion long-term increase in GDP if they raised the employment rate for those over 55 to match that of Sweden, the best in the OECD.

Research has found that these older workers bring different perspectivesimportant institutional knowledge and valuable mentoring skills. They can drive innovation and help to design products and services for the massive “silver market” of older consumers. And by extending their careers, they can support the fiscal sustainability of public and private institutions. Moreover, as the data around activity and healthy aging accumulates, working longer is also good for people’s health, and therefore societies’ exploding health costs.

However, there are several barriers to this longevity opportunity. To shape the future of work through the lens of aging, employers and partners in government must implement forward-looking responses to address three challenges.

First, while a growing number of employers recognise the demographic shift, few are actually taking action. Workplace policies that support later-life employment – new and creative benefit structures and innovation on work itself, such as phased retirement and new roles for older workers – have been adopted by some innovative organisations, but remain relatively rare.

Second, ageism is widespread in both the workplace and society. According to Deloitte’s global survey of business leaders, just 18% said that age is viewed as an advantage at their organisation, and 20% see it as an outright disadvantage. This reflects ageist attitudes across society, where it’s often assumed – falsely – that a 70 year old should not be working, is a drag on their employer and is taking the job of a younger person. Wrong, but a persistent myth.

Third, our underlying societal and policy structures are not aligned with aging and longevity. Consider education: currently, our institutions support learning until our early 20s, but then stop entirely. In the era of longevity, we need new models to support lifelong learning. And we need to reinvent a number of other social structures, including work and retirement, healthcare delivery and housing. In short, we need a new social contract.

Employers can overcome these challenges, and there are rich incentives to do so. Leaders in this area will tap into an underutilised, valuable talent pool, reach a huge consumer market and realise key competitive advantages. In the near future, not having an aging strategy – guided by principles for the multi-generational workplace – will seem as outmoded as not having a digital or green strategy.

The opportunity – for employers, policy-makers and society – is to design a new social contract that aligns to our 21st century’s demographic realities. Reimagining the future of work in light of aging, and then translating that vision into concrete changes, is an essential step forward.

We need a new conversation about aging and the future of work – including voices like yours.

  • How do you think work, jobs and careers will change as a result of aging and longevity?
  • What are the most important changes that employers and employees can take?
  • What are the wider social and policy efforts needed to realise the economic potential of longevity and the silver economy?
  • What are the most important opportunities and challenges for workers, employers and other stakeholders?
  • Where does the balance stand between employer and employee responsibilities for action?

Source: OECD Forum Network