The Second Half of Life

The excessive length of life is a phenomenon of the last hundred years. In the early twentieth century, the life expectancy of an American was around 45 years. In 2007, it was 78 years. The life expectancy of the average Japanese is 82.6 years. Today, only a handful of African countries beset by poor health services and AIDS have life expectancies of below 50.

This throws up peculiar challenges for human beings. The concept of retirement at 58 was developed when life expectancies were around 65 to 70.Now many people are left with a substantial part of their life after retirement.

Many lose their bearings once they stop working and deteriorate both physically and mentally. Indians turn to spirituality. But this is not the answer.

It was Drucker who explained that after even two decades of doing the same work, many retire on the job,much earlier than the official retirement age. With empty nests and no satisfaction from work they also find their lives meaningless. But there are people who plan their second lives.They are in a minority and will become role-models and leaders.

The second life can be of social entrepreneurship, advisory roles or community service -essentially a passion or purposeful work . But the prerequisite to a second life is starting early and taking the small, initial steps around 35.

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