What do you want to be when you grow up?

A common conversation in childhood centred around what we wanted to be when we grow up?

Whether asked by an adult or chatted amongst friends in the school playground this was just part of everyday life. Not surprisingly as different influences came into our lives, so the answer changed. This month 50 years ago many would be astronauts were created. Perhaps in 2022 a few more will want to play cricket, who knows.

Perhaps most perplexing is why this question remains the exclusive property of children, why is the question not posed to people some years older? Particularly when current thinking suggests 30 somethings will have 3 or 4 different careers.

What will you do when you leave your current job? What will you do in later life? Maybe you have asked yourself the question, you might even have an answer. For most however the question remains unasked and therefore of course unanswered.

Although our notion of our “later life” is slowly being disrupted and altered to something very different to previous generations or even our own imaginings it is all too often being replaced by a sense of fear and trepidation, as is always the case with major structural changes to our lives. It is easy to say that there is nothing to be fearful of but of course much less easy to believe.

Belief in something new often takes time, requires evidence even and sometimes a taste or try out of whatever this new thing is. Later life will not afford you an opportunity to try out, evidence will be slow to accumulate. Most humans will only leap on to something new when a huge visible bandwagon can be seen rolling down the road. It is part of the human condition; we are all to some extent or another bound by the same behaviour.

Given this, how on earth do we make sure we are in shape for later life? Waiting for evidence is a guarantee you will miss the boat; it will be too late. However, unlike missing tickets to a concert or failing to get a dinner reservation, you can’t come back another time. Miss it now and it will be too late. Or at least studies have shown that it can take retirees up to 15 years to reorient themselves in retirement. It’s worth reflecting on that number 15! Imagine leaving employment at age 65 and spending the next fifteen years wondering what to do? Wouldn’t it be good to start in your 30’s

The solution to this problem is to use that wonderful childhood question, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” As you ponder the question set aside any notion that you ever grow up, after all the process of the human life, is birth and a continuing process of growing older until we die. We never grow up it is not a destination we shall ever arrive at. Therefore, the question is just as useful to us at any age. The Bliss workshop has been created to help you ask these questions, to determine how you want to spend the next few years of your life, to help first consider then plan for life after normal full-time work has ceased. Moreover, the exercises are just as useful to do again when you are older as maybe your physical and mental capacity limit your ability to do whatever you have been doing up until now.

We can see increasing evidence that a healthy fulfilling lifestyle is beneficial to us, planning to understand what this will look like before leaving the permanent workforce is essential to our welfare and best done before you get there.