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The question is, “How can you create your own Super Second Life?”
Give me a minute, then I’ll explain a straightforward, three-step path that goes right to the heart of it, a process you can take home and start doing tomorrow.
First let’s first talk about those 30 extra years—free, no charge; years to do whatever you want to do.
What a magnificent gift! And you got it by just being born now! The sad part is, probably 99% of the people don’t know they have the gift. So they unknowingly squander it...
You know where those “30 extra years” come from? Life expectancy in 1900 was 48 years of age. Now it’s 78. We live 30 years longer than the folks at the start of the last century, mostly because of chlorine in the water, antibiotics, and our control of infectious diseases. But the life expectancy crept up so gradually nobody noticed.
How important are those extra 30 years historically? If we take every person born since mankind appeared and counted those who lived to 65, one half of that total is alive today!
But there’s a problem with that: none of them have a plan to use those extra years to their or society’s benefit!
That’s why our topic today is important. What good is the 30-year gift if we just stand (or sit) around and gawk at the moon?
You see, as humans we know two things: we’re born and we die. Those are the bookends of our existence. It’s just that they are now 30 years farther apart!
What really counts aren’t the ends but the quality of our life in between.
Just talking this way, about planning our lives and a bright future at midlife, is so different than the way your grandparents saw life—maybe even your parents... They had what’s called the declining view of life, which made sense then. That is, from midlife on it was all downhill, the party was over, dreams unrealized were... well, dreams unrealized. Tomorrow was a long string of todays, but with less.
But that thinking is as out of date now as your prom dress or 8-tracks.
People at midlife are blooming as never before. We have more skills, experience, strength, and wisdom than any group before us. We’re healthier, better educated, better read, more humane—and probably a whole lot richer. And we want to step out and be known as individuals—not our kids’ parent or our spouse’s other half.
We’re eager for those extra years—the second part of our life is, after all, simply the completion of what the first half prepared us to do!
So that’s what we’re talking about today: how to grab that energy, all that preparation, and all of our dreams and convert them into what I call in my book a HOW TO PLAN A GREAT SECOND LIFE. But it all starts with planning. It just won’t happen on its own...
Let me share a quick story with you. It’s true and happened about 35 years ago. It was the first time I ever heard the words “second life.”
I was a feisty buck then (well, a reduced version of a buck) running the CARE and Peace Corps program in Cartagena, Colombia, on the Caribbean.
I was asked to be a judge at the Miss Colombia contest one year. One of the panel members was a local hero: the great Mexican comedian CANTINFLAS (who is really Mariano Moreno). He was at the peak of his career, having been in Round the World in 80 Days and a zillion movies popular in the Spanish-speaking world.
We had many chances to talk, and once, with Mrs. Flas, he mentioned he was anxious to retire. I asked him, “What do you do plan to do next?”
He said, “You know, I was as poor as a kid can be, and one of the luxuries of real poverty is you get to dream almost all the time! So now, in my SECOND LIFE, I’m going to do the things that I dreamed about then!”
If any of you know his life, Cantinflas then set up a huge, model program to help poor kids in Mexico, and he spent his life making it work...
I was 25 years old when he said that. I was so busy just living that it wasn’t until I was 50 that Cantiflas’s wisdom made sense to me. To develop a second life, and in it make the dreams come true that we had to postpone in our first life.
You’re probably asking, “When does my second life begin?”
Sometimes at retirement. The average age of retirement in the U.S.? 57.
For me, about now. I’m 65.
For most, somewhere between 45 and about 65.
Then when do you get started?
Financially, when you get your first decent job. You chuck some funds into a 401k, or an equivalent.
And you start serious planning—
* When the daily grind stops making sense...
* When you can get the tykes out of the house...
* When you’re thrown out of the beauty contest...
* When the current music and styles look like they are alien imports...
You’ll just know when it’s time.
You simply have to do it or you’ll be drifting in the wind.
I promised you three steps to a SUPER SECOND LIFE. Here the are, in summary. We’ll explore each in detail later.
The first asks you to look back and create your base: to list your achievements, skills, accomplishments, abilities from your first life. Plus the amount of money you have now and can earn in the future—and your present state of health. That’s your base line. I call that TAKING STOCK.
At the next step you DECIDE WHAT YOU WANT TO DO. You do that by creating your own dream list. You’re only alive once: what’s important to you to get done in this life? What else do you want to do? What excites you? What gives you joy?
And at the third step (which includes several mini-steps), you we PLAN HOW AND WHEN IT WILL HAPPEN.
First you take those dreams and put them in priority order. Then you sort them into time pegs. (You may have six things you want to do between 60-65, five in 65-70, four in 70-80, and three after 80.)
An example: one of my top priority dreams was to climb to the top of Half-Dome, in Yosemite.
Three years back I convinced my daughter to join me in the 14-hour trek: we made it! But at 70 that may be beyond my pail—or even my interest. I’d hate to be excluded just because I didn’t put it in my plan at an age when it was a challenge, fun, and DOABLE.
Then you take those top priority dreams and put them into action steps: 1-2-3-4. Without that, they won’t happen. They’ll be too remote to become a reality.
Then you bring all that information together and create a FINAL ACTION PLAN for your entire second life—then you get to it!
That’s why I’m here today: I want all of you to have ACTION PLANS that will add a whole new dimension to your existence...
I hear that some of you are thinking: “Why bother, I’ll be so old...” Billie Burke answers that. She says, “Age only matters if you’re a cheese!”
Now let’s go back now and put some flesh on those three steps, so when you leave today you’ll be ready to get started.
I need your help. Let’s start with TAKING STOCK. Who can tell me, “What are telltale signs that you are outgrowing your first life?”
“Thank you, you’re number one...”