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There’s always something to howl about

Planning to retire at 50? Good on ya! Have you made plans for living a hundred years beyond that? In a world that changes like dreams?

Unless you come down with a fatal disease or find yourself in a gun battle, you’re probably going to live a lot longer than you ever imagined. This week’s news is interesting, but life-extension is a secondary consequence of everything associated with free markets. That trend is centuries old by now — better food and water, personal hygiene, continuous improvements in medicine, the widespread availability of something as mundane as fresh cow’s milk.

And just think how much longer and richer your life could be if you weren’t carrying 50% or more in parasitic government weight on your back. The interesting thing is that the rate of change is increasing far faster than governments and other misanthropes can drag it down. My own personal dictum has always been, “They can’t enslave us if they can’t catch us.” The literate third of the globe is at that point now. The other two thirds are just a few years away. If we can navigate the next few years without blowing ourselves up, we will reach a point where the average middle class household in the United States will control more real wealth than entire countries would have owned just a few centuries ago.

I’m sure I’ve cited this before, and this version of the film is an antique by now — it’s almost a year old — but this is a very compelling presentation:

Of course you cannot make any detailed plans about living decades longer than you expected with everything changing constantly — and at an ever-accelerating rate of change. The truth of the matter is, if you live to be 150 years old, you have a decent chance of living forever. The even more startling truth is that the ever-accelerating rate of change in all branches of technology is racing us toward a singularity, a point where all of our models of understanding break down and we have no rational means of predicting what will happen.

No one can predict the future more than a few years out, but what you can do is reprogram your mind. In omnia paratus — prepared for everything. If you are going to live a very long life — happily — I think you are going to have to train yourself to think like you did when you were twenty-five — serious about work, serious about the future, open to change, undismayed by frustration, eager to learn new things.

It took you twenty-five years to get there, and I’ll grant you twenty-five years of senescence on the back end. That gives you a solid century — maybe more — to live and work with a young, supple, avidly-interested mind. If you’re not there now, you might start moving in that direction. There’s no rush, though. You’ll have a lot more time that you thought you would.

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  • 7 comments

    7 Comments so far

    1. Bawldguy Talking June 5th, 2008 9:15 am

      Planning will be the only difference when one hits retirement — whenever that might be. This entire post should be bolded.

    2. Mike Farmer June 5th, 2008 9:53 am

      Very good. I just wrote something similasr to this, that I will post in a minute. Our minds are synced again.

    3. Tom at the Real Estate Bloggers June 5th, 2008 12:29 pm

      That is why I blog. I figure the technology improvements will cover for my body’s failings so I can do this for 100 more years. :)

      As long as I do not have to go to video full time I am set.

    4. Barry Cunningham June 5th, 2008 2:25 pm

      Interesting video

    5. Mark McGlothlin June 6th, 2008 8:53 am

      Jeff – great post as always. Here’s another spin on the retirement picture. I have a real estate/ business mentor now in his early 90′s who looks, thinks, and acts decades younger. He shares often how his plan was to retire at 55 and see the world, though he is so in love with what he does, he’s kept working, innovating, and writing, and has still seen the world.

      Ed is most convinced that he and we are happiest when we’re productive, contributing in realms large and small, and engaged. His wealth has continued to grow as you might expect; he’s become a behind the scenes philanthropist that appears to bring him the greatest joy.

      He’s living proof of that century of productivity despite his love for San Antonio mexican food, Gulf coast fried shrimp, and good cigars. In truth he’s a fitness fanatic – both physical and attitude fitness. His constant advice to me over the past decade has been to never “retire”, but to improve and expand, and that it’s never too late.

    6. San Antonio Lawyer September 3rd, 2008 3:48 pm

      Thanks for the video. It gave me a lot to think about.

    7. Diane October 14th, 2008 6:03 am

      That was a very interesting video. It gives us all a lot to think about. The world keeps changing due to technological advancements. What will they invent next. It’s amazing when you think about back in the early 1900′s the head of the Patent Office tendered his resignation on the grounds that everything that is going to be invented, has been.