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How To Make The Rest Of Your Life The Best Of Your Life

What if I told you that the secret to a longer, happier life is to NEVER RETIRE?

Live to 100

There’s some pretty mind-blowing research to back this up. You may have heard about blue zones. Blue zones are regions where people live much longer than the average, like 100-plus years. Places like Okinawa in Japan, Sardinia in Italy and Ikaria in Greece. One thing that stands out in these places, people don’t really retire. They stay involved in some form of work, whether that’s farming, fishing, or some community service.

Studies suggest that people who continue to work past the traditional retirement age, tend to live longer; they’re healthier overall because they have something to look forward to. If you look at politicians, for example, Presidents and Prime Ministers in most countries, are 70-plus and still going strong. So, today I want to share with you an incredible story of someone who personified this philosophy. A man who worked 80-plus years and never really retired.

C. R. Rao

A man who lived every day with purpose, C. R. Rao, was a legendary statistician. He sadly left us just 3 weeks back at the age of 102. He never retired from his work and continued to publish papers and give lectures until his final days. His life was a testament to the power of lifelong engagement.

Here is his story: After his BA in mathematics from Andhra University, Rao joined the Indian Statistical Institute. He worked there for 40 years, turning it into one of the world’s best institutes for statistics. He retired as its director in 1978, when he reached his retirement age of 58 years. But that was not the end of his work.

He went to live with his daughter in the US. There at the age of 62, he became a professor of statistics at the University of Pittsburgh. At 70, he became the head of the department at the University of Pennsylvania, and he was active on the faculty until he was 81. He continued his learning and contribution, deriving so many theorems, we use today in data science.

In 2001, he was honoured by the Padma Vibhushan. At the age of 82, he received the National Medal for Science, the highest award in the US in the scientific field. He was the author of 14 books and published over 400 journal publications. In his own words, he once said, “I don’t think I will ever retire because I enjoy my work too much”.

(Sir Richard Branson also says: “I don’t think of work as work and play as play. It’s all living”).

In 2023, at the age of 102, he was awarded the International Prize in Statistics, popularly considered equivalent to the Nobel Prize in this field.

C.R. Rao has been honoured with numerous degrees and awards over his long career. He has received 39 honorary doctorate degrees from universities in 19 countries spanning six continents.

C.R. Rao’s life was a testament and a reminder of how to live, especially in the later years of our lives—the second innings.

Retirement: A Modern Concept

The concept of a fixed retirement age is a relatively modern concept and became popular after the Industrial Revolution. One of the economic reasons for establishing a retirement age was to reduce unemployment by encouraging older workers to leave the workforce so that younger workers could take their place. But it’s time to rethink. It’s time to rethink the end game.

So instead of winding down, perhaps we have to ramp up for the next exciting phase of life. This is my philosophy. In life, we are either growing or we are dying. If you don’t have anything to look forward to, we are not growing. We are literally dying. We need a reason to live… a compelling reason to live. That’s the secret.

Purposeful Engagement

The absence of purposeful engagement could lead to both mental and physical decline. It’s been proven by many studies. If you stay engaged, if you continue to work on things that matter, things you love, and if you keep your mind sharp and your body strong, your purpose will remain strong. In a world where we are conditioned to prepare for the end, from life insurance plans to retirement policies, it may be time to rethink this mindset.

With advances in medical science, our lifespan is increasing year after year. I’m reading a book, Life Force by Tony Robbins and team. It’s mind-blowing. There are so many breakthroughs in medical science and hacks and secrets to longevity that extend our lifespan.

If you’re in your 40s today, there’s a high possibility, a high chance that you will live past 100 if you take care of yourself. Imagine retiring at 60 and realizing that you have another 40 more years ahead of you! As the great George Bernard Shaw said: “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing”. It’s a mindset.

A New Beginning

Retirement isn’t necessarily the end. It could be the beginning of something new and exciting. The key is planning a second innings, a second career or a passion project. Please don’t take out a retirement policy and sit at home doing nothing.

The sign of life is movement. Keep moving and keep going. If you keep your mind sharp, chances are you’re also giving your body the best possible chance to be strong and resilient. So never retire, work as long as you can. Make every moment count, for yourself and the world that could benefit from your lifetime of experience and wisdom.

Plan Your Second Innings

So, here’s my challenge to you: Plan your second innings, whether it’s a new career, a passion project, or some service that gives you a renewed purpose in life. Most of us in our lives… our first innings, we work for money, right? But for your second innings do what you love, work on your passion, live with purpose and make a difference. Like C. R. Rao or A. P. J. Abdul Kalam and many others who worked until their last breath and left their indelible legacy.

As I say: “It’s not about adding years to your life, but adding life to your years”.

(Extracted From “Never Retire” by Sreejith Krishnan)


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