Chasing the latest thing and trying to live in the present may have done a disservice to what you know about your future. Here are two (well-documented) facts which you don’t always think about – and something to start you consider ideas for action, once you realize you need to do something for your Future Self!
Thing 1: Your Future Self will live longer. Much, much longer.
This report is worth reading – it shows how life expectancy changes in countries all around the world, and how recent this phenomenon is. The numbers are all there. Despite a big problem with obesity in the Western world, and series of epidemics and / or famine globally – the life expectancy across the planet is rising. People will live longer than previous generations expected to live – longer than their health systems, job markets and social networks may be built for.
You will live even longer, if you are able to read this. There is no denying the fact that literacy (in English, especially) and internet access are both symptoms of privilege. So it’s likely that your life expectancy is even above the average.
What you now call “retirement period” may be the best, most productive time for your Future Self. What you call “old age” may in fact come to mean “just getting started on some things”.
But that’s not all – you will not be alone in this.
Thing 2: Your Future Self will be surrounded by old people.
You don’t really think about this, do you? But the second graph shows this clearly. Imagine passing people by on the street, or bumping into them in a supermarket. Imagine spending time in social groups – churches, theatres, parks, swimming pools, holidays…
There will be more elderly people there. There will be much more people in general – but old faces will appear more often than they do now. This means that every thing you do will be shared with a population which is shifitng towards the old.
You may not care now – but your Future Self may not be used to seeing so many old faces around. It may not enjoy the fact that there are no young folks anymore!
Now what? Three simple ideas to future-proof your Future Self
If this frustrates you, there’s good news. People have realized this a while ago and the “aging populations” are now a common concern. As for your own Future Self – the person you will become in X years – there are some things you can definitely keep doing.
1. Keep fit and active. This guy’s story warmed the cockles of my heart today – he’s the world’s best-looking, fastest-running, rowing-like-a-madman ninety-something. And he’s enjoying it! It is never too late to do this, and this is the best way to help your body feel younger. Find your own activity, and enjoy what it does to you.
2. Save more than you think you need. The pension systems, the retirement age, the work patterns – all this is now already feeling the strain of the aging population. Whatever happens next is not going to be more rosy. Save more, invest, and do not assume you will “just be all right somehow”. The good news is that you may find it in you to work much longer, and may be needed for many more projects even after you hit retirement age.
3. Learn a language. I will never grow tired of showing you new evidence for the benefits of language learning. This article tells you about the flexible brains of bilingual kids (and gives you a great chance to see a cute toddler having an MRI scan, AWWW). Foreign languages are insurance policies for your Future Self – other countries to live in and visit, other places to fight the ennui of the same (old) faces.
Your turn: how will you get to know your Future Self again?
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