The Happiness Connection  

Times are changing

In 1921, Canadians lived, on average, 57.1 years.

In 2011, the average age of a Canadian was 81.7 years.

Let me save you from having to do the math. That is an increase of 24.6 years in nine decades.

Advancements in health and medicine mean people at either end of the age spectrum have a greater chance of surviving. The infant mortality rate has decreased, and adults live longer.

This trend of increased longevity is predicted to continue.

Canadians born in 2010 have an average life expectancy of 83.94 for females and 79.41 for males. This is expected to increase by over three years for girls born in 2030, and almost four and a half years for boys born in the same year.

I could continue to share statistics, but let’s get to the point of this week’s column. Times are changing.

Reaching 50 no longer indicates that your life is winding down. Reaching 70 doesn’t mean you are ready for a care home.

Retirement no longer means you are entering your twilight years, especially if you have taken advantage of early retirement.

The number of centenarians is predicted to continue to rise in Canada. By 2030 statistics predict there will be more than 17,000 and by 2061 close to 80,000. 

The idea of growing up, settling down with a job and family and then retiring to live out your final years may have made sense in 1911, but not so much anymore. More and more adults are reaching their senior years in a state of good health and vibrancy.

If you reached the age of retirement in 2011, you can expect to live on average for fifteen or more years. If you retire after that, you will have even more time.

That is a lot of years to be retired. What are you going to do with all that time?

Research shows that humans are happier when they have purpose. Retiring from your job to live the sort of life that has been portrayed by television shows and movies is fine, if you are finding ways to establish and work toward goals.

Travelling, helping with your grandchildren, and finding time for hobbies may be the first stage of your retirement, but what will your life look like when you are 75? Your grandchildren may not need so much of your time and you may be growing tired of your hobbies.

Instead of regretting the things you didn’t do when you were younger, find some new things to do now. Age is a state of mind.

I speak from experience when I say that. I had a plan for my life that shattered when I was in my late forties. I suddenly found myself needing to go back to work.

I can remember mourning the fact that I was so old. If only I was back at the beginning of my career. Okay, I can see the smiles on some of your faces from here. If age is a state of mind, mine needed changing. I had no room for reinvention in my thought process.

I didn’t want to be old with a minimum wage job where I was being supervised by someone young enough to be my child. I didn’t know any other way but climbing up a job ladder. That took time.

Being unprepared for this change in my life was challenging. Looking back, I wouldn’t swap the experience. It made me stronger and encouraged me to think about my future differently.

Now, I expect to work until I’m in my 90s. As I age, I will scale my work to match my energy, health, and desires. I love what I do, and I am my own boss. That puts an entirely new spin on working.

I have discovered an important distinction between retiring from your job and retiring to something new.

Research shows that humans are happier when they have purpose. Retiring from your job to live the sort of life that has been portrayed by television shows and movies is fine, if you are finding ways to establish and work toward goals.

Many people do this by travelling, helping with their grandchildren, and finding time for hobbies. That is all fine and well, but what will your life look like when you are 70 and your grandchildren don’t need so much of your time and you are growing tired of your hobbies?

Do you still have a reason to get up every morning that fills you will passion? Maybe you have never experienced this type of start to your day. There is still time for you to create a new vision for your life.

Your idea may positively impact your family, community, or the entire world. It’s your vision. You get to decide what it looks like. You are never too old to do something to help the world, or individuals within it.

Whether it is for now or some point in the future, start thinking about what you want to do next.

Look for purpose that lights you up. What are your skills? Who can you help? What do you want your life to look like? What do you love to do so much that it makes you happy to get out of bed?

Staying engaged with people, inspired by purpose, and knowing you are impacting the world will help you greet every day filled with positivity.

I receive a few curious looks and comments when people find out I am in the relatively early years of my newest career. I get even more stares when I say I hope to have another 30 years of writing, speaking and impacting the world. (With parents still going strong at 88 and 90, genetics are on my side.)

My attitude is not unique. I know many people who like me are venturing into something new at an age when traditionally they would be retiring. Some do it because they need to, but many are choosing to embrace this new idea of retirement because they want to.

I’m not talking about getting another job, I am suggesting you do something in line with your values, beliefs, and desires. This is a wonderful time to work for purpose and passion, not just for money.

If you are currently in the daily grind of work, you may think the idea of working until you are ninety preposterous, but you may feel differently as you approach your senior years.

Keep the idea simmering on the back burner and give it a stir from time to time. It might prove useful.

Whether you are nearing retirement or in the middle of it, you are never too old to reinvent yourself.

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About the Author

Reen Rose is an experienced, informative, and engaging speaker, author, and educator. She has worked for over three decades in the world of education, teaching children and adults in Canada and England.

Research shows that happy people are better leaders, more successful, and healthier than their unhappy counterparts, and yet so many people still believe that happiness is a result of their circumstances.

Happiness is a choice. Reen’s presentations and workshops are designed to help you become robustly happy. This is her term for happiness that can withstand challenge and change.

Reen blends research-based expertise, storytelling, humour, and practical strategies to both inform and inspire. She is a Myers Briggs certified practitioner, a Microsoft Office certified trainer and a qualified and experienced teacher.

Email Reen at [email protected]

Check out her websites at www.ReenRose.com, or www.ModellingHappiness.com

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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