Bolder: Making the Most of Our Longer Lives.

November 7, 2021

Bolder: Making the Most of Our Longer Lives.

May 29, 2023

It comes to all of us in the end: that crushing moment when you suddenly feel old. The trigger might be a milestone birthday, an illness or an injury, a romantic snub or a missed promotion at work.

For me it was discovering that I was the oldest player at a hockey tournament.

Even though I was playing well and having fun, the questions crowded in:

Do I look out of place here? Are people laughing at me? Should I take up a more age-appropriate pastime – like bingo?

My wobble was hardly surprising.

After all, in a world in thrall to youth, being older can mean being written off everywhere from the bedroom to the boardroom.

But is that fair? Is it really all downhill from 40?

Of course not.

The world is full of people thriving on the wrong side of 40 – because there is no 'wrong' side of 40.

Sure, aging has its drawbacks. But the truth is that many things stay the same as you grow older – and some even get better.

With age, we tend to become more comfortable in our own skin, worry less about what others think of us and enjoy more fulfilling relationships. No wonder the highest levels of happiness and life satisfaction are found among the over 55s.

Creativity can hold up as we age, too. That's why history is studded with artists, from Michelangelo and Matisse to Beethoven and Bach, doing triumphantly creative work in later life.

Productivity rises with age in jobs that rely on social acumen, as more and more do. Because social smarts improve as we grow older.

We also get better at seeing the big picture, weighing multiple points of view and spotting the patterns that unlock solutions to thorny problems.

Think about your own work. Aren't you better at it now than you were 5 or 10 years ago? I know I am.

I also feel more entrepreneurial, more able to turn risk into reward. And I'm not alone in that either.

Sure, wunderkinds like Mark Zuckerberg hog all the media coverage. But studies show that you're more likely to found a successful startup in middle age or beyond.

Finished at 40? Baloney! Many of us are just getting started at 40.

The human body can also deliver fine service long after its peak. Just look at the burgeoning army of people running marathons in their fifties, playing soccer in their sixties, surfing in their seventies, climbing mountains in their eighties, cycling cross-country in their nineties.

Welcome to the age of the centenarian skydiver.

The truth is that every age has its pros and cons. And every age can be wonderful. But only if we embrace it. Embrace the present instead of pining for the past and shrinking from the future.

That is certainly my approach these days.

I plan to carry on playing hockey as long as I can. And if I'm the oldest player at a tournament, so be it.

Carl Honoré is one of the leaders of both the slow movement and the healthy aging movement and has acclaimed TED talks for both (here’s the aging one). He will be making the trek from London to co-lead a week with Chip Conley at MEA January 31-February 5. There’s still some space in the workshop but it will fill soon. Hope you join us. Here’s a short video of Chip and Carl talking about their upcoming workshop.

Go deeper with a workshop, in person or online.

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