F50 Issue #4: Long Live the Longevity Economy!

F50 Issue #4: August 29, 2023

The Longevity Economy: What it Means for You

Have you seen the movie Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny? And were you surprised to see 81-year-old Harrison Ford starring in it?

If you watch the trailer, you hear his character, Indiana Jones, say that he’s retiring. But Harrison Ford himself shows no signs of slowing down. Although this may be his last appearance as Indy, he’s scheduled to appear in other roles on the silver screen.

Actually, we shouldn’t be surprised. If you look around you, you’ll notice many older adults continuing to work and thrive.

An Oxford Economics article shares statistics that point to a phenomenon called the “Longevity Economy”:

“By 2015, there were more than 1.6 billion people in the world who were part of the 50-plus cohort. By 2050, this number is projected to double to nearly 3.2 billion people….

“The US alone is home to 111 million in the 50-plus cohort; they represent a powerful force that is driving economic growth and value. This is what AARP has branded the Longevity Economy, representing the sum of all economic activity driven by the needs of Americans aged 50 and older, and includes both products and services they purchase directly and the further economic activity this spending generates.”

An article titled “Megatrends: The Longevity Economy” calls “the graying of America” a “megatrend” and asserts, “These demographic shifts have formed a longevity economy in which the anticipated economic contributions from older adults will be higher, and yet will likely benefit individuals of all ages.”

So, why is this significant? Because the future is bright for those of us seeking flexibility, fulfillment, and financial opportunities after the age of 50.

According to a Forbes article titled “The Advantages Of Older Entrepreneurs,” 55- to 64-year-old entrepreneurs account for about one-quarter of new entrepreneurs in recent years and tend to be more successful:

“A 60-year-old who starts a new business is three times more likely to succeed than a 30-year-old peer, four economists calculate in ‘Age and High-Growth Entrepreneurship,’ a research paper published in the journal American Economic Review: Insights.”

Most compellingly, the article states, “There isn't an age limit on prosperity.” Ultimately, there’s an advantage to being older, especially for anyone considering freelancing.

So, what does this mean for you? Here are five ways to approach the Longevity Economy.

1. Dream big.

Whether you’re working, retired, or considering retirement, set no limits on the next act of your career. Think of yourself as an Indiana Jones character, on the precipice of a new adventure. Make a list of interests, activities, and work you’d like to pursue in the future.

If you’re retiring from your current job, decide whether you’d like to start your own business or continue working in the same field as a freelancer.

Your adventuring days are not over, and your dreams can come true! Be inspired by this quote attributed to Les Brown:

“You are never too old to set another goal, or to dream a new dream.”

2. Challenge ageism.

Ignore stereotypes about growing old. Although you can’t control how others view aging, you can control how you think about it. Don’t let discrimination come from within.

Dreams and ambitions are not just for the young. You have wisdom and experience behind you, and productive years ahead of you.

As the article above says,

“The longevity economy will also likely transform how companies recruit and retain an aging workforce, how individuals plan for a lengthy retirement period, how health care treatments are delivered to individuals with long life spans and how companies connect with older consumers about services and products. It may also change public perceptions about how the terms ‘age’ and ‘old’ should be used.”

3. Keep learning.

Harrison Ford has played Indiana Jones off and on for the past 42 years, beginning in the early ‘80s. And no doubt he’s had a lot to learn about acting and filmmaking since he starred in the first movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark.

At FreeU, we often mention the concept of lifelong learning. It’s a key component of longevity because not only does it future-proof your career, but it benefits your brain. It also gives you purpose and motivation to keep moving forward.

Whatever activities you pursue, seek ways to keep learning and growing through community groups, online courses, YouTube videos, blog posts, and other written resources.

4. Build community.

As mentioned above, the Longevity Economy will benefit people of all ages. Helen Keller once said, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” So, find opportunities to connect not just with your generation but with the younger generation too.

Consider starting or joining online or in-person groups that focus on your interests. Talk to people about your dreams and future plans. Who knows — maybe someone else shares your vision and can help you reach your goals.

Even if you start working from home as a freelancer, remember you’re not alone. You have many options for building community, right at your fingertips.

5. Live well.

Finally, take good care of yourself. Another important part of longevity is building healthy habits. If you’re still working, avoid burnout by maintaining your work-life balance as much as possible.

And if you’re retired, create a daily or weekly routine for yourself that includes healthy meals, adequate sleep, and regular exercise.

If you choose to freelance, take advantage of the freedom to create your own schedule that helps you manage your health. It’s one of the perks of choosing your own adventure!

Insider Resources

For more information, read The Longevity Economy, a book by Joseph F. Coughlin.

He’s the founder and director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology AgeLab, “a multidisciplinary research program created to understand the behavior of the 50+ population, the role of technology and design in their lives, and the opportunity for innovation to improve the quality of life for older adults and their families.”

In this book, he busts some myths about aging and helps business leaders understand what older people want instead of what people think they need. If you’ve ever felt misunderstood, take heart and read this insightful book!

Did You Know?

Singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie recently announced she’s retiring from live performances at the age of 82 due to health issues.

You may be familiar with some of her songs, like “Take My Hand for a While” and “Up Where We Belong,” a song she co-wrote for the 1982 film An Officer and a Gentleman.

Although she’s retiring from performing, Buffy’s career is far from over. In a CBC article, she explains,

"I'm not saying that I'm never going to perform again," she said. "It's not like: 'She's going to retire.' I'm not in the business world. I've retired many times without ever calling it retirement.”

Buffy is creative and does many different kinds of projects. She’s a musician, composer, visual artist, author, educator, and activist.

And even in the business world, you don't need to retire. When you become a freelancer, you can be creative too. The sky’s the limit when it comes to taking on different roles and projects in many kinds of online businesses.

The future is waiting and it's a bright one!

Until next time,

Co-founders of Freelance University®

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