As millions of boomers cross the threshold into midlife, the discussion about longer lives in America has been entirely about the staggering economic costs of a dramatically aging society.
But in his latest book – The Big Shift: Navigating the New Stage Beyond Midlife – Encore.org founder and CEO Marc Freedman issues an impassioned call to accept the decades opening up between midlife and anything approximating old age for what they really are: a new stage of life, an encore phase.
The New York Times calls The Big Shift “an imaginative work with the potential to affect our individual lives and our collective future.” The Wall Street Journal says it’s “invaluable and inspiring reading.” And USA Today hails Freedman as “a natural storyteller, a deep researcher and a forward thinker.”
Q & A With Marc Freedman
Q: What motivated you to write The Big Shift? Turning 50?
A: In a sense, it was turning 50. After 25 years of working, I was exhausted. My wife and two sons, then 1 and 3 years old, made plans for a two-week road trip. When I made the reservations, I asked the hotel clerk for an AARP discount … and two cribs. That odd combination of discounts and requests – signs of what once indicated distinct parts of the life cycle separated by decades – made one thing abundantly clear and personal: The old map of life, which guided us for generations, was rapidly becoming an anachronism.
Q: What’s wrong with the old map of life?
A: We’ve been remarkably adept at extending lives, but our imagination and innovation in remaking the shape of those longer lives have been struggling to keep pace. Individuals left in that lurch, in this unstable space that has no name, face a contradictory culture, incoherent policies, and a society that seems in denial that this period even exists. We need to create a new stage between the end of the middle years and the beginning of retirement and old age, an “encore” stage of life characterized by purpose, contribution and commitment, particularly to the well-being of future generations.