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The 100 Year Life

By Lynda Gratton & Andrew Scott

The 100-Year Life is a book about what happens when many people across the world live to 100. So, if you are under 100, it’s a book about you, and how you can plan your life. But it’s also about the society we live in, with strong messages for Government and HR departments about how they view work and ageing. 

Drawing from economics, psychology and sociology, academics Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott make the case that living longer requires a fundamental redesign of life and a restructuring of time to ensure that longevity can be a gift, not a curse. 

Let’s face it, research can be pretty boring, but this book is very readable. The authors bring research to life through three characters, Jack born in 1945, Jimmy in 1971 and Jane in 1998. It quickly becomes apparent that the three-stage life experienced by Jack – school, work and retirement, lived sequentially and in lockstep with everyone else – will not be the experience of either Jimmy or Jane. 

With longer life expectancies, the ability to make transitions will be crucial to a good life. Jimmy and Jane are likely to work into their 70s or even 80s, but their working lives will be multi-staged. They are likely to have extensive periods of exploration, experimentation and regeneration. And the timing of these stages will be driven more by personal needs than societal expectations. 

What about the workplace itself? As the traditional links between age and stage of life are broken, a multi-generational workforce will become the norm. And with longer periods free from child rearing, we can expect to see more ‘switching’ of domestic and work roles within the family, and hopefully, greater gender equity in the workforce.

The characters’ stories highlight the most pressing aspect – how to make the finances work – but as the book unfolds it becomes clear that the real insights are about how we manage our intangible assets, like a supportive family, great friends, strong skills and knowledge, and good physical and mental health. A good life needs both tangible and intangible assets, but building one tends to deplete the other. The trick is to find the balance and synergies between the two over multiple stages of your life. 

This book provides a roadmap to help you do that.