“There’s a moment when people know—whatever their skills are at denial—that they have passed from what they can delude themselves into thinking is middle age to something that you could call the third act.” – Nora Ephron
A week or so ago, I posted the quote above on our Facebook page. It made me think about how aging will continue to affect our working lives. I did a little research and here’s what I discovered.
People are living longer. That’s both good and bad news. In 1900, the life expectancy in the United States was 47.3 years. By the time my parents were born in 1943, that number had risen to 63.4 years. A baby born today is expected to live to age 78. If you happen to be born in Japan, the number swells to 83 years. In the U.S. alone, that change is 31 years. Those are remarkable numbers over the course of just a little over a century. We take better care of ourselves. The combination of focusing on healthy eating, exercise, the reduction of tobacco and alcohol consumption have all led to people living more productive lives well into their twilight years.
In fact, the census of 2010 listed 53,364 people living in the United States who were 100 years old or older. What’s amazing about that number is that in 1950, that statistic was 2,300. It doesn’t take too much to imagination to believe that many of you reading this post will live to be close to 100. What’s more, most of our children and grandchildren will easily reach that age. So the question of what we do with all this extra time is an important one to answer.
Have you thought about what you will be doing during your third act, as Nora put it? How will you occupy your time? Will it be filled with only recreational activities, or will you continue to work? Not because you have to, but rather because you want to keep working and feel that you have something worthwhile to contribute. Maybe there’s a second career in all of us that we haven’t thought of yet, but is waiting to bloom.
What will yours be?