Governmental and private sector policy and planning initially subscribed to and continues to blindly adhere to the architecture of the post- World War II industrial society three generation life cycle mode. Youth/education, career and retirement represents the three generations. Modernized education produced second generation of career ready adults by 20-22 years of age. Secure long- term careers in a stable socio- economic environment facilitated creation of a solid middle class with secure long- term jobs who were expected to become financially independent. At age 65 the career cycle ended. Breadwinners transitioned into a third generation of complacent retirees; the “aged”. The retirement cycle was looked at as being short term, 65 to 75 years of age, populated by physically and mentally aging inactive retirees, and accorded afterthought status in the generational policy and planning and process.
A paradigm shift has taken place. The Post World War II industrial society has undergone a massive transformation to a technology driven knowledge- based service economy that has rendered the status quo three generation life cycle model obsolete. Life expectancy is now projected to extend well beyond 75 years to 85-95 years. Health is the new wealth that is enabling people to live active lives for the duration.
Life is an aging process. Aging is now the best fit methodology to utilize as the architecture for governmental and private sector policy and planning. A three- stage aging life cycle model provides the flexibility to articulate an aging process that’s commensurate with a contemporary society in which adjustments and modifications to timelines that reflect what are recognized as an ongoing series of necessary shifts are now the new normal.
The first stage encompasses youth/maturation; the “YOM” age. It replaces what’s labeled as the “Z” cohort in obsolete generation cycle nomenclature. It’s the requisite starting point in a society and social order where the status quo has been replaced by constant change. This is necessitating the reinvention of education to integrate in person education with on line learning to acquire the electronic (E) competency to grapple with the Internet of things (IT) and artificial intelligence (AI) along with the socialization through the self-management of social media as an enabler. Embracing what is appreciated and applauded as success through a series and variations of first attempts at learning (FAIL) in an environment of constant change is the building block core to maturity. The new age “YOM” stage of youth starts at birth and can be expected to last until the maturation process reaches completion at 30 years of age.
The second stage encompasses the work and personal life being experienced by mature adults who are identified as generation (X) and generation (Y), the latter labeled as the “millennials”. These are the siblings of the “boomers”. Their fore-bearers haven’t bequeathed them comfortable careers with secure long- term jobs. They’ve inherited a sophisticated “GIG” economy and are confronting the end of work in a conventional career context. Generation (X) and millennials are aware that their work life will consist of an eclectic array of jobs and assignments that will require an ongoing upgrading of knowledge and skills. The combination of increased health and the need to self-manage their wealth to afford a comfortable long- term life may well necessitate participating in the labour market beyond the second stage an into the third stage. They’re endeavouring to replace the drive to succeed that dominated their boomer parents’ careers with a work-life balance. Moreover, they appreciate the urgency of adapting their professional and personal lives to be compatible with a sustainable environment. The second stage has a variable age that will encompass the 30-65-year period of the aging cycle.
The third stage is in the throes of having the terms of reference for the retirement generation being redefined as active retirement to replace the retirement generation by the “boomers”. The beginning of what will the bulk of boomers will turn 65 in 2020. They represent a new age of young/olds (YOLDS). For YOLDS active retirement is about pursuing an encore life in a reinvented lifestyle that encompasses “living life to the fullest”. It has two pathways, “encore careers” and “active retirement/adult community” living, neither of which is mutually exclusive.
They’re at the forefront of the nascent “passion economy” that’s opening the door for them to either augment their retirement income with an executive assignment or pursue their dream and contribute to society with an encore career in the bourgeoning social enterprise and non-profit sectors. Active retirement community living enables YOLDS to be vibrant participants in a community focused social network where health is wealth in a holistic context that embraces physical and mental well- being.
And what about those complacent retirees, the “aged”, who are in the 75+age category. They’re rejecting the negativity that’s associated with “ageism”. They’re gravitating to a mature elder (MELD) status in an evolving four generation society. They’re embracing third age learning. They’re positioning themselves to be the sages. They are new age grandparents and great-grandparents whose memories and recollections of having lived life to the fullest in through the lifelong aging process in the first and second ages can be utilized to mentor maturing youths and mature adults
John G. Kelly
Mentoring & Counselling