The Flinchum File
Thoughtful Economic Analysis and Existential Opinions

Longevity Paradox


I attended a lecture on this recently and keep thinking about it.  The paradox is that we are living longer but clueless what to do with the extra time.  I know one person whose driving ambition in life was to NOT work.  He is now 95 years old and would be happy to NOT work for another 95 years.  He can easily entertain himself, sitting alone with the thought “I’m NOT working.”  He is the exception.

Too many men reach retirement with no clue how to entertain themselves when retired.  Since most of their social contacts were with other men in their former work environment, they have to depend more and more upon their wives for entertainment.  It is small wonder that the divorce rate after age 65 is growing faster than any other age group, mostly initiated by the wives.

The lecture was titled “8,000 Days” as I recall.  There are four phases to life, each about 8,000 days, which is roughly 22 years.  The first phase is learning.  The second is growing.  The third is maturing.  And, the fourth is exploring.

A generation ago, the fourth phase was only about 1,000 days and could have been called retiring, instead of exploring.  As our longevity has increased, most of that increase has been in the fourth phase.  We now have much more time in the fourth phase, compared to the other phases.  We need to stop calling it the retirement phase and start calling it the exploration phase.

Go ahead, save your marriage and explore something – anything – today!  Almost one-in-four start a little business, you can too!


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