Here's a question I'll bet you've never asked yourself: What could your life be like in 2035 with normal progress?
Opportunities multiply as they are seized.
First let's consider what life is apt to be like in the year 2035 if we make improvements at the normal pace. Then in the next guide we'll imagine how things could be if improvements occur much more rapidly.
Let's start with life expectancy. Longevity is increasing by about 1 percent a year in economically advanced countries, and often quite a bit faster than that in less economically advanced countries.
If you thought you would be dead by 2035, perhaps you won't be. For those who reach the age of 60 in 2007 and live in economically advanced countries, slightly more than half will probably be alive in 2035 because the life span is likely by then to be at least 4 years longer that it is now for 60-year-olds.
The age at which physical health deteriorates is also lengthening. Today's 70-year-olds are often more vigorous than 60-year-olds were in the 1960s. What's more, research shows that exercise and mental stimulation extend that vigorous period.
The number of people reaching their 60th wedding anniversaries is growing rapidly. By living longer and working harder on marriages, marriages can also be longer and happier. With long-enough lives and wisely learning from experience, even people in second marriages may celebrate 60th wedding anniversaries.
By living longer, the size of your family will grow as new generations are added. Assuming that you had two children and they each have two children, you will have four grandchildren. By living an additional 4 years, more people will see some of their great grandchildren. If each of your grandchildren has two children, you will have eight great grandchildren. That means you could have fourteen descendants rather than six in your advanced years.
For those who started their families young and where that trend continues in succeeding generations, having thirty descendants from two-child families will be possible. If more than two children are born in each generation, the size of your family could be enormous.
Longevity affects friendships, too. While many of today's 80-year-olds have lost a lot of their friends, that won't be as true in 2035. Similar losses won't occur until the mid-80s. The longer period of good health means that you'll be active with your friends for more years as well. If you stay open to making new friends, you may also find that you've yet to meet more than half the friends you'll have in 2035.
Those who graduate from college around age 22 in 2029 will mostly know obsolete information by the time they are 28 in 2035 unless they continually refresh their understanding of what's known. Graduates will need to reeducate themselves again and again over their long lives.
If they are smart about it, they will learn to focus during their young years on basic skills that will accelerate lifelong learning such as by increasing reading speed and comprehension, creating well-organized notes about what they've studied, learning to communicate well in writing and orally, improving foreign language fluency, becoming adept at producing outstanding solutions (such as with the 2,000 percent solution process), and becoming adept at being an effective leader.
With greater longevity, we run the risk of being crippled or otherwise impaired for more years. So it makes sense to pay more attention to real, rather than apparent, safety. Statistics show that dangers primarily lurk at home, in driving around your home and work areas, and from friends and family members.
When drugs, alcohol, and guns are available, dangers grow geometrically greater. Yet people put more effort into keeping an eye on strangers on a city street than they do with the greater risk that not having a safe home creates.
Selecting the right home for 2035 presents a special challenge. While raising children, most parents are quite anxious to pick the optimal home they can afford to provide an appropriate environment. They move as often as they need to in order to step up what they provide to their offspring.
But eventually the children grow up . . . and may not often return. And there you have it; two people rattling around in a house designed to sleep six and accommodate an extra three or four friends for afternoon fun. Clearly, the old manse isn't the right abode any more.
But inertia sets in, and people stay where they are. Why? It just seems like too much trouble to move when you have a comfortable roof over your head that's paid for. But how much more wonderful could your home be? Probably quite a lot if it exactly reflected your needs and tastes.
Chances are that you'll live at least three decades (and possibly five) after your last child moves out. Moving into the right home for post-child years makes a lot of sense, doesn't it?
Before 2035 arrives, you should be considering a different home in a great locale that offers you benefits that you haven't had before. You can have a wonderful time visiting possible new locales and meeting the people there.
Your social life may bloom in ways that wouldn't have occurred in the old stomping grounds. Plus, if you locate somewhere that's comfortable for older folks, you won't have to make an unpleasant shift in locales again in old age to reflect any reduced mobility.
With the prospect of more longevity, finances will be a greater concern for many in 2035. If you have planned well, you won't have to spend precious time creating more income.
Or you may find a kind of work or business that can provide for most of your lifestyle desires at no expense to you. Earning an income for more years (as long as you enjoy what you're doing) will also reduce your need for retirement income when you do decide to stop working for money (you may still want to do volunteer work you love).
Or you might find that too elevated a lifestyle may not be healthy and decide to live in a way that's more sustainable over the long term. Some will see increasing income as a trade-off for having more time and more fun.
In that case, you might look into how lifestyle costs can be further reduced in ways that will give you more freedom with your time. Or you could choose to occasionally sample the high lifestyle rather than always be surrounded by it. The choice will be yours.
If you live a long time, debt can wipe out a lot of good work. But keep in mind that there may be obligations worth taking on, such as a reverse mortgage (one you don't have to repay until you sell the property or you die) on your home when you are 90, rather than selling at a time when the property is about to greatly expand in value.
If the future brings more challenges and opportunities, some will be overwhelmed. Most of us already work too hard. As a reminder of how work may crowd everything else out, I recently reread Peter Drucker's last piece of advice to me: "Stop working so much!"
Learning about achieving a good balance in our lives should become a priority that we focus on from a younger age. Quality of life often requires that you take steps that you keep putting off. Perhaps you've always wanted to grow orchids because you love gazing at their fragile beauty in warm, misted air.
Orchids aren't hard to grow, but you do need to put in a greenhouse (unless you live on a tropical island) and learn what to do. Get serious about the changes you want. You'll have more years to enjoy those choices.