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Transitions will become the norm
When life morphs from three stages to multiple stages, there will be more transitions. In a three-stage life there are two key transitions: from education to employment, and from employment to retirement. With more stages there will be more transitions. This is important because right now few people are able or skilled to make these multiple transitions. Making the most of a long and multi-stage life means taking transitions in your stride. Being flexible, acquiring new knowledge, exploring new ways of thinking, seeing the world from a different perspective, coming to terms with changes in power, letting go of old associates and building new networks.
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These are the transformational skills which call for a potentially huge shift in perspective and require real foresight.
New stages will emerge
This has happened before, in the twentieth century, with the emergence of two new stages: teenagers and retirees. We believe that the next decades will see the creation of more new stages of life. Right now a new stage of life is emerging for those aged 18– 30. Just as longevity and greater schooling helped promote the concept of a teenager, so something is happening to the age group beyond adolescence. This group are already beginning to respond to the promise of a longer life and are keeping their options open and exploring new alternatives. As they do so, they are turning away from the commitments that past generations had made at this age and instead are pursuing other lifestyles and choices. The creation of these new stages of life is a real gift. These new stages create an opportunity to experiment, to build the life you want. Look around you – there are probably already family or friends who are experimenting with new stages.
Re-creation will be more important than recreation
With more transitions and new stages comes the need to invest: in shifting identity so you can take on a new role; in creating a different lifestyle; or in developing new skills. The gift of a longer life with more time creates the space for investment. Historically this investment came in the first stage of life – in a period of full-time education. When life becomes multi-staged, then this investment happens throughout life and in periods that have traditionally been seen as leisure time.