To retire or rewire?

MEAx Australia | To retire or rewire? | 17th November 2021

It’s time to change the societal narrative and replace ‘retire’ with ‘rewire.’ Thanks to the longevity revolution, we have ‘inherited’ around thirty extra years of life and yet all the signposts that we rely on to tell us when to get an education, when to work, when to marry and when to retire were erected when life was half as long. As author Jonathan Rauch suggests, “If you wanted to design a society that exacerbated midlife misery and squandered the potential of later adulthood, you might deliver education in a single lump during the first two decades of life, load work into the middle decades, and then herd healthy, happy and highly skilled older adults into idleness. In other words, you would do more or less what we have been doing for the past century or so.”

The old linear, three-phase model for life, of learn, then earn and then retire that defined the lives of our parents and grandparents needs to be redesigned and replaced by a more fluid multi-stage life model, that looks more like, what MEA founder Chip Conley calls, “a smorgasbord of stages on which we can continue to graze, and less like a linear progression from entrée to main to dessert.”

Perhaps in years to come, midlife won’t be punctuated by the full stop of retirement, but rather by a less rigid progression, where work and leisure are not mutually exclusive. Perhaps we will continue to learn new skills or repurpose old ones across all of our days. Maybe it will be commonplace to have multiple careers interspersed with sabbaticals to travel or focus on child rearing, or ‘gaps’ to re-train or re-boot. Perhaps we will move between learning and earning and straddle careers across different sectors or professions. However our stories unfold, they should harness the full potential of our improved longevity.

Get ready to rewire,
The MEAx Team

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