Crossing a Chasm. Longevity ain’t what it used to be.

shahara_bridge_over_chasm_in_yemenIf we truly are, as is often described, living through a longevity revolution; then how is it that the story line in this new narrative – nurtured around a changing positive outlook on aging and what it means to be successful at living longer – feels so incomplete?

The truth simply is, that like most social revolutions throughout history, it won’t happen in the blink of a Boomer’s eye, just because we are reading or speaking about it. For that matter, even if we are trying to model our own version of a new age later life, we may find ourselves at odds with actually living it. In many ways, while we are so busy marketing attitudes – preoccupied with re-articulating concepts like retirement for example – we seem to stay stuck with mid-twentieth century consumer language.

At a macro-level, a global discussion on the social and economic imperatives in a longevity revolution has been taking place for the many years I’ve been researching it since 2001. Think tank organizations or coalitions at regional and international forums have more than adequately positioned the agenda for people on the street to make some meaning of it in our communities. Here we are – 2016, and this discussion is gathering steam, almost bursting for a Malcolm Gladwell tipping point.

We are trying to bend our mind-sets to adapt or adjust to living differently. Fully appreciating a new design for our living conditions and social structures in a longevity society will affect all generations for some decades to come. We will have to shift gears more swiftly, change our frames of references. And then, likely, there will come a time where this current awkwardly forming narrative will read like history in some hyper-digital time capsule. By 2133, maybe.

Longevity thinking in disruptive mode.

Back on earth today, as patient or impatient as we may be with progress, we must push the envelope to help individualize the message in a new narrative, about how and why our life course model needs to change as a result of the predicted expectations for extended lifetimes. Yes, we still have to deal with the immediacy of our lives today – pay the bills, take our pills and look after the family; but we have to up our thinking beyond the current norms.

As I’ve often said, how brave, for instance, would a financial services company need to be to stop marketing a cluster of products under the headline – Financial Planning for Retirement? If in the mainstream, our life journey is experienced over a more protracted timeframe, then why isn’t it Financing Your Longevity? It’s easily a matter of changing language or jargon I suppose, but it would be distinctive as a brand strategy.

Hey, we keep saying, in the longevity revolution, that retirement ain’t what it used to be, but then we’re still using theword.

It comes to my mind that we are actually crossing a chasm, sort of like the “technology adoption life cycle” model in Geoffrey Moore’s 1991, Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling Disruptive Products to Mainstream Customers. In a longevity society, the way we push careers, the way we sell financial products, to the way we package work and lifestyles, and everything else in between is in disruptive mode.

When it comes to changing longevity thinking and our life course model, it will be built on one conversation at a time. The innovators and early adopters are out there, as when it comes to the area of technologies for example – new products are already enabling people to live better lives longer. What we all need to give equally more attention to, is how we are adopting new solutions to programs, products or services for education, career pathing, social services and health care.

If we work at it these things differently now and we are saying it now – imagine by 2133, someone will know it for sure – longevity ain’t what it used to be.

1 comment on “Crossing a Chasm. Longevity ain’t what it used to be.”

  1. Jill O'DOnnell Reply

    Love your comment about how brave Financial Planners would be if they were to remove the R word. Today we are all struggling to come up with a better word but so far, it hasn’t been discovered. So, it really includes all of us to rethink and rediscover a new name for retirement because we are living longer and many of us are working longer.

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