Each time we will live more years and longevity can be a gift or a curse, depending on what we do now. At least, this is the reflection of two professors from the London Business School, Andrew Scott and Lynda Gratton, authors of The Life of a Hundred Years, a work that has won the best book of the year award according to Knowsquare. The proposal is based on an indisputable fact. Life expectancy has increased, so much so that at present a child born in the West has more than 50% chance of living up to 105 years. This figure was less than 1% just a century ago. In addition, the incorporation of new technologies to health care will help us to have more birthdays and will even "cure" aging, as stated by José Luis Cordeiro and David Wood in his provocative book Death of Death.
Beyond guessing how long we will live, it seems clear that in general terms we will overcome our parents and our children will surpass us. Therefore, if we are going to have more time and better health, what can we do to enjoy a full life all the years that lie ahead? Andrew Scott and Lynda Gratton suggest that, regardless of how old we are, let's review our life decisions agenda in three major areas:
- Reinvent ourselves in the different stages. Longevity opens up new vital phases, as it did in the 20th century. Until then, there was no adolescence or retirement, it was a continuum. Now there are other stages, such as the one that opens from 18 to 30, characterized by not taking on the responsibilities that our parents took, for example; or those that are opened after the third age. There are no previous models, so we will have to reinvent ourselves based on two questions: who am I? and how will I live? This means that we do not expect to always do the same, but that we give ourselves permission to seek our lives doing different things.
- Plan and experiment. Longevity will face us with higher economic needs, which will require better financial planning and greater savings or investment. Likewise, if we need to reinvent ourselves as people in each of the phases, we will have to plan it in advance. And this will be related to dare to experiment, to pry into what other things we have left in the bedroom and we wanted to do, like being painters, cooks, teach, or what each one decides.
Develop a beginner mentality, rejuvenate!
- Passion to learn. What will make us feel alive will be the constant attitude toward learning. If we believe that the last phases of our lives are going to happen in front of a television, longevity will most likely be a burden. On the other hand, if we encourage our desire to learn, encourage creativity, enjoy art or question ourselves ... we can train a young mind no matter how old we are. And there are many examples of this, such as Peter Drucker, a writer from the business world, who died at the age of 96, having also specialized in subjects as diverse as Japanese floral arrangements or medieval warfare methods, among others. His eagerness to learn allowed him to be a clear mind in the field of business and a happy man. Like my friend Josep Gajo, president of the European Court of Arbitration, who at 79 is an insatiable reader and expert in many other areas of humanities.
In short, living more than a hundred years can be a gift if we make decisions from our present, oriented to give us permission to reinvent ourselves, to plan and experiment and to keep alive the passion to learn. If we do all of this, we will most likely be able to enjoy a meaningful life.