Why I’m Looking Forward to Fifty

Sometimes, life and work intersect. As it happens, Encore.org is marking a significant milestone this year, with the 10th anniversary of The Purpose Prize and the announcement today of the 2015 winners. And I’ve hit a personal milestone, too: I turned 40 this year. But instead of dreading my midlife decades, like many of my friends, I feel a growing sense of possibility, excited for what I might do in another decade, or two – or three.

I grew up in the encore movement. I was 25 when I first heard Marc Freedman speak about how older generations can make a difference in the lives of young people. As the child of Chinese immigrants, this was my truth. I was raised in an intergenerational household. My grandparents were my after-school program. Marc’s ideas made sense, and I wanted to be part of it. Just three years out of college, I left corporate consulting to run Experience Corps Bay Area – then, a fledgling program connecting adults 55+ as tutors and mentors to children falling through the cracks in public schools – and I never looked back.

I’ve spent nearly my whole adult life at the forefront of the encore movement, and I have been deeply shaped by the people surrounding me who are making the most significant contributions of their lives after 50: thousands of volunteers, dozens of hyper-productive colleagues who show no signs of slowing down and now, more than 500 Purpose Prize honorees.

As we honor our tenth cohort of winners and fellows, I am struck again by these remarkable trailblazers, who change the world in increments, year after year, learning on the job, experimenting, failing – and harnessing their experiences, both the good and the bad, to make a difference.

And so this year’s Purpose Prize honorees join the ranks of those who have so deeply marked my own trajectory. I know their stories will move and inspire you, too.

Read the winners stories here.

Read the fellows stories here.