What four-letter word can help take us closer to a four-figure number we will never--statistically for now--reach?
The number of months in the average Australian life--statistically again--is below 1,000. Based on 2005 data, the average life span of Australian males is 942 months (78.5 years); for females it's 999.6 months (83.3 years). By 2050, both are expected to break the 1,000 month barrier.
If you can't wait that long, there's a four-letter word that can, in the right circumstances, increase your life span. "Work" might be bad news for some but this does not necessarily mean work as we've traditionally defined it. Rather it means paid or unpaid work, on our own terms, that is viewed and valued as a contribution to society.
The concept of work as a 30-40 year burden being replaced on a given birthday, say 65, by rest and recreation for what was a few short years thereafter, is rapidly becoming obsolete. So, too, is the concept of younger workers replacing those once worn-out older workers.
A more balanced approach is emerging as some employees move to a phased retirement by working fewer days, or part-time, before leaving. Others now take what is becoming a career break, before returning to work, either part-time or through short term assignments.
Flexibility is a key word as employers, facing a skills shortage, try to accommodate older employees, returning and potential retirees working a little longer.
For many retirees, there are only so many games of golf you can play, so many books you can read and so many cups of coffee you can drink. Retirees want something more, and being valued members of society through passing on their skills and wisdom to younger employees, is part of that. Through sensible, flexible, working arrangements they can do so and still play golf, read, look after the grandchildren and drink a coffee or two. Being busy doesn't necessarily mean being stressed. Balance and flexibility are rich veins in a healthy life.
"The more people have to do the healthier they are. The less they have to do, the sicker they get. People just give up." So says David Bogan, co-author of "Avoid Retirement and Stay Alive". He adds "The people who stay working often aren't doing it for the money. It's what they enjoy, it's what challenges them. It's about staying engaged with the world around you, not withdrawing."
Work--in some form--is part of that engagement and part of the balance that many active people seek. The life that we long for should, in future, include work in some form. For, like learning, work is becoming life long, and that in part, is why life is becoming longer.
Quotes To Consider
"My advice to business is to take the word retirement out of their thinking altogether. People are just in a different phase of their lives."
- Bernard Salt, Demographer and KPMG partner.
What phase of life are you in? Do you gaze forward or backward? Do you plan to retire, or "retire" to plan your rehire?
"Absence of occupation is not rest, a mind quite vacant is a mind distressed."
- William Cowper (1820-1905), English poet.
Do you rest, or test the the best that you may yet be?