Reverse Retirement: Live First, Work Second. Do We Have the Order of Our Lives Backwards?

Stanford researcher Laura Carstensen says these changes, and changing cultural norms suggests that we shouldn’t start our full-time careers until the age of 40, leaving the 20s and 30s free for other priorities. This could be education or raising a family. May we also suggest travel, for your Reverse Retirement?

Expanding life spans and overall health gave us the often heard sayings “30 is the new 20,” “40 is the new 30,” and on and on. But merely stretching that timeline isn’t solving anything if we have the whole thing backwards. What if 20 is the new 60 (when we retire), and 40 is the new 20 (when we start our careers)?

As Corinne Purtill writes in Quartz:

Rather than a four-decade professional sprint that ends abruptly at 65, Carstensen argues, we should be planning for marathon careers that last longer but have more breaks along the way for learning, family needs, and obligations outside the workplace.

“We need a new model,” Carstensen says of the current norms around career pacing. The current one “doesn’t work, because it fails to recognize all the other demands on our time. People are working full-time at the same time they’re raising children. You never get a break. You never get to step out. You never get to refresh. . . .We go at this unsustainable pace, and then pull the plug.”

What do you think of a social model and support system where people in their 20s are allowed and expected to spend more time developing their education, in apprenticeships or internships, traveling, or raising young children (if that is what they choose), with the expectation that more meaningful full-time work will begin around the age of 40? Would you take it?

On that note:
Portlandia: Where Young People Go to Retire

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