Do you have a 60-something birthday coming up? If so, and if you feel like protesting the number of candles on your next birthday cake, experts have some really exciting news for you. In a TEDx talk called The Most Productive Years of Your Life May Surprise You, mentor and life coach Lloyd Reeb, told his audience, “There’s compelling evidence that the second half of your life and mine could be the very best season of our lives.” Executive mentor Bob Biehl agrees and says even more specifically that your 60s are the most productive years of your life.
In his lecture, Decade by Decade, Biehl says that the operative word for the sixth decade of life is strategic. He says that while physical energy may be declining during the 60s, strategic thinking is increasing. In the 60-something years, many people really stop and take stock of their lives. As people age, according to Lloyd Reeb, they begin to value deep, intimate relationships more than they value accomplishments. According to Biehl, in their 60s, people begin to think about all they’ve been through, all they’ve learned, and all they’ve accomplished, and begin to strategically ponder the years ahead. It’s the time in life when thoughtful people begin to ask questions such as:
- How can I make the most of the years ahead?
What are the most important things I can be doing during this time in my life?
How can I redeploy my expertise and my skills to make a meaningful contribution to other people’s lives?
- The strategic pondering of many 60-something people, however, often collides head on with our culture’s concept of retirement, what Lloyd Reeb calls the “leisure myth.” He explains that the “leisure myth” is the belief that our best years are behind us, and so we buy into “the idea of packing up our bags and moving to Leisureville.” It’s a myth, he says, because for “many, if not most,” that definition of retirement is just not very rewarding or fulfilling.
- What IS fulfilling—and exciting, joy-producing, and productive—is the strategic redeployment of the wisdom you’ve acquired, the expertise you’ve gained, and the people skills you’ve honed. This leads not only to greater purpose for your 60-something years, but also opportunities for making a difference in the world as well.
Reeb says that to make the most of the second half of life, which obviously includes the 60-something years, people need to lay some groundwork. They need to “get” three things:
First, they need to get clear on their answers to some questions:
- What are your personal strengths? What are you passionate about? What’s your “calling”? Where does your influence lie?
- Second, they need to get free from what’s holding them back. For some, it’s stuff—the many things they own. For others it’s the commitments and obligations they’ve made that take up their time.
- Third, they just need to get going!
- Whether you are entering your 60s or well into them, push back on the idea that you are “too old” or that “it’s too late” to use your skills to help others or fulfill your dreams. Instead be inspired by what these other 60-somethings have done:
- Herbie Hancock was 67 years old when he won the Grammy for Album of the Year in 2008.
- Tony Bennett was 68 when he won the same Grammy in 1995.
- Ernestine Shepherd, a self-described “total couch potato until age 56,” was at age 74 named the oldest female competitive bodybuilder in the world by the Guinness Book of World Records. In 2022, at age 86, she is still an active bodybuilder.
- Harland David Sanders (“Colonel Sanders”) was 65 when he incorporated Kentucky Fried Chicken.
- Moses was 80 and his brother Aaron was 83 when God sent them to Pharaoh to say, “Let my people go” (Exodus 7:7).
- Barry Sharpless, age 81, was one of three winners of the 2022 Nobel Prize in chemistry. It was his second Nobel Prize; he won the first at age 60.
For more inspiration, listen to Lloyd Reeb’s TEDx talk, The Most Productive Years of Your Life May Surprise You and Bob Biehl’s Decade by Decade lecture, both on www.youtube.com.