Be a Driver and Write Your Own Ticket

Most readers have been in the position of being stopped for speeding and watching with a faint heart as the police officer wrote out a ticket. Following are my suggestions on how to be a driver and write your own ticket.

As a strong proponent of life management planning, I have experience with some of the issues people 50 and older (50+) need to ponder as they focus on the second half of their lives:

• Do I perceive this next phase of life as being a meaningful and rewarding experience?
• Do I have interests to occupy my time as I disengage from full-time employment?
• Have I developed plans for the next phase of my life?
• Have I specific objectives as to what I would like to accomplish in this next phase?
• Does my life management plan include ways to attain meaning and purpose in my future activities?

Several years ago, when I presented a session at my college reunion weekend that primarily attracted people 50+, the chief concern from an audience of more than 150 people was the lack of meaning and purpose in their lives. Seeking my own purpose and meaning, I sold my management consulting practice over the last two years to focus on a 501(c)(3) non-profit, the Center for Productive Longevity (CPL), with this mission:

To stimulate the substantially increased engagement of people 50 and older in productive activities, paid and volunteer, where they are qualified and ready to continue adding value.

Why is CPL focusing on this population segment? Here are the reasons:

1. We have 99 million people in the U.S. who are 50+, almost one-third of the total population.

2. This population segment represents a large and growing talent pool with experience, expertise, seasoned judgment and proven performance; millions of them are sitting on the sidelines but wanting or needing to continue working.

3. Contrary to popular thinking, the Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity for 1996-2012 reports that people 55-64 created 8.7 percent more new businesses on average per year than people 20-34, and their success rate was better.

4. Entrepreneurship is a viable option for people 50+ who are seeking to work; few other options presently exist.

5. Entrepreneurship has been the backbone of the U.S. economy since the country began, serving as the driver for increased employment and economic growth.

In 2012, CPL held four one-day meetings in different parts of the United States titled Spotlight on Entrepreneurship Opportunities for Baby Boomers 50 and Older that attracted more than 400 participants, with very positive responses. Resource groups that formed as a result of the meetings have been focusing on providing counsel and guidance to people who have created new businesses, brainstorming on new-business opportunities, and sharing mutual interests.

From the success of these regional events, we have developed a National Conference on the Entrepreneurship Imperative for Engaging People 50 and Older that will take place Thursday, November 7, at The National Press Club in Washington, DC. Thought leaders from the public, private, academic, and non-profit sectors will focus on what actions these sectors can take separately and through collaboration to create an environment that encourages and stimulates substantially more entrepreneurship among people 50+. The event will conclude with a Call to Action, discussed and agreed upon by participants in breakout sessions on the second afternoon. CPL will be committed to facilitate implementation of the action plan within 12 months after the Conference.

I hope these details will stimulate readers to think about what they want to do with the rest of their lives. Gary Becker, a Nobel laureate and professor of economics at the University of Chicago, called increased longevity "the greatest gift of the 20th century." Gifts are provided to be enjoyed, and now may be the time to start enjoying yours.

For more information on the National Conference, click here.