I have friends who are professors who are teaching in their 80s and I once had dinner with two 90somethings who were still at it. When I was younger I thought I’d retire as soon as I could so I could (1) study, read, research, and write without interruption and (2) play more golf. In my late 50s I began to question retirement and in my 60s even more so.
Perhaps the issue is the zero-sum game we sometimes require: either work full time or retire full time. This article is worth pondering and discussion at the office.
On the TED Ideas blog recently, he skipped succession planning and 401(k)s and instead urged those in the later decades of their careers to plan to work forever instead.
"I interviewed a number of people between the ages of 70 and 100 in order to better understand what contributes to life satisfaction. Every single one of them has continued working," he insists.
And when Levitin says working, he means really working, not keeping yourself occupied with golf or gardening.
"Too much time spent with no purpose is associated with unhappiness. Stay busy! Not with busy work or trivial pursuits, but with meaningful activities," he advises before reeling off a list of successful icons who have continued to work into their 70s and 80s, from the Dalai Lama to author Barbara Ehrenreich (not to mention the entire remaining presidential field and a few members of the Supreme Court).
He's not the only one making this radical suggestion. Stanford psychologist Laura Carstensen argues that we arrange our careers entirely wrong for the rhythm of our lives, forcing people to cram together their most productive professional years and raising small children, and then leaving them with too little to do in their later years.
"Rather than a four-decade professional sprint that ends abruptly at 65 ... we should be planning for marathon careers," Quartz explained. What would that look like? A lot like Levitin's endless work: combining training and apprenticeships with having kids in your 20s and 30s, and then a full career that starts at 40 and ends perhaps around 80.