Looking at mid-life (and after) in a new way
In this week's blog: Pete gets to thinking about life in your 50s - and beyond
Happy new year!
I know this is going to sound a little weird….
…but I’m glad 2020 is finally here, because there’s a big 5-0 coming up on the horizon.
No, not mine – I celebrated my 50th three years ago.
I’m talking about my colleague Steve Butler, Chief Executive of Punter Southall Aspire, who will be marking his half-century next month.
For everyone who works with Steve, this has been A Big Deal.
You see, facing such a significant milestone has made Steve think long and hard about what he wants out of life, and he’s made some huge changes which have been inspiring to watch – and very thought-provoking.
Now, I know your alarm bells are probably ringing: “Steve’s having a mid-life crisis!”
But nothing could be further from the truth.
In fact, turning 50 has made him think about mid-life in a completely new way…
…and I believe there’s an important lesson here, no matter how old you are.
To explain Steve’s new outlook on mid-life, I need to take a step back.
It all started a couple of years ago, when he picked up a book which has changed the course of his life.
It’s called The 100 Year Life, and it explores the ways in which people and companies have to adjust as the average lifespan increases.
It hit Steve hard that he may have 30 or even 35 years of work ahead of him – and hopefully several decades more of life.
But the world is changing, and so is he.
And it occurred to him that if he wasn’t careful, he could easily wake up in 10 or 15 years’ time on a trajectory he didn’t like…
…without the skills he needed to pivot his career in new directions…
…facing a retirement he wouldn’t particularly enjoy…
…and too old to do much about it.
If he wanted the next few decades of his life to be happy and fulfilling, he couldn’t leave it to chance!
He attempted to climb a Himalayan peak, getting fit and giving himself some time away from daily life to focus on a more spiritual side.
Without giving up his day job, he went back to university to do his Ph.D. and wrote a book – both of which could open up many career options for him in the coming years.
Recently, he delivered his first guest lecture at Southampton University, giving him a chance to see whether university teaching might be in his future.
There were proactive actions he could take now to set himself up for maximum success in his 60s and 70s.
If he didn’t take them, then yes - mid-life could well become a crisis, as his options started to narrow.
But he was beginning to see mid-life quite differently.
It is a crossroads of sorts – a sensible time to rethink where you want your life to go, and then do whatever you need to unlock your potential, so that in later life, you can be the best you.
As a first step, Steve thought long and hard about where he’d want to be on his 60th birthday.
He knew he wanted to be fit and active, financially independent and with a good work-life balance. It was unlikely he’d be ready to stop work, but he didn’t see himself working at the same speed as he does today.
Then he set about exploring options he might like to pursue, and building the skills and capabilities he’d need to make his vision possible.
These both fit in with Punter Southall Aspire’s corporate interests, but they were also interesting to Steve on a personal level, and gave him a good chance to test whether he’d enjoy doing more voluntary work as he got older.
I’m sure that over the next few years, Steve will explore many other paths, some of which may lead him to completely unexpected destinations.
But the point is that he is doing whatever he can to make sure he can live the way he wants to as he gets older, and smooth his path to retirement.
I’ve found watching this incredibly inspiring, and it’s certainly made me think about what I need to do right now to make the most of my 60s and 70s.
I changed jobs recently, so I’ve already taken on a big new work challenge, and I already do plenty of volunteering…
…but I know I don’t invest enough in my health. Since my worst nightmare would be to reach retirement age but not be healthy enough to enjoy it, that is the first challenge I’m going to take on!
What about you? Do you have a plan for your later years?
Over my blogs in the next few weeks, I’m going to explore more fully what such a plan might involve. Watch out for those blogs!