Life After 50' Sets Out to Prove It's Never Too Late

Life After 50' Sets Out to Prove It's Never Too Late

by Joseph C. Farah of the Indianapolis Star

Zionsville native Thomas L. Hardin has written an important book about a sensitive subject that is undergoing, thanks to the baby-boom generation, a major paradigm shift in American society -- retirement.

The term evokes a stereotypical image of a life stage too often falsely associated with the Great Depression, World War II, Social Security, failing health, loneliness, nursing homes and, eventually, death. But this "third stage of life" is not as negative as we think. This book shows that it is filled with opportunities, rewards, happiness, creativity and longevity for countless Americans who are daily redefining how to grow old positively and lead enriched lives.

"Never Too Old to Rock & Roll" is more than another pop-psychology or self-help panacea designed to make you feel good about aging without addressing root causes. With ever-increasing longevity on the horizon, we Americans will be living longer. At the beginning of the 20th century, the average life expectancy of Americans was 47 years. Today, thanks to advances in technology and modern medical health care, people more than 100 years old are the fastest-growing segment of the national population.

At the outset, Hardin dispels many myths about retirement. It is not the end of the world; rather, it is a life stage that has many potential rewards for those willing to plan carefully for it. One of the impressive features of this book is its emphasis on proper planning in all aspects of life.

Hardin starts out by redefining the baby-boom generation. This population cohort, totaling some 70 million, will reach maximum retirement age about 2030. These are generally considered the people born from 1946 to 1964. He argues that the real core of this group was born between 1937 and 1957. More important, this post-World War II "rock & roll" generation has been the driving force behind much of the growth in American society and culture for nearly two generations. And because of their numbers, they will continue to be a major political force in changing attitudes toward retirement.

Hardin's prescription for planning for retirement is quite simple: "Don't act your age -- plan your age!" He states that "to make life after 50 your best years yet, three things are required: a compelling vision of your future life, the financial freedom to pursue your interests, and a sense of health and vitality." Most of the time it is financial freedom that we worry about the most.

The real superstructure of this new paradigm is what Hardin titles the "Seven Keys to Total Wealth and Abundance." They are worth noting: Take time to create a compelling vision; connect your vision to your values, passion and purpose; educate yourself and find a great coach; formulate and implement a measurable plan; monitor your progress and update the plan as needed; enjoy your abundance; and leave a legacy. If you see what may look like elements of coaching, business and strategic planning at work here, you're right.

The remaining chapters flesh out the details of the Seven Keys. Included are step-by-step procedures and exercises for navigating a personal plan. There also are insightful vignettes of people Hardin has interviewed who are living healthy, productive, non-stereotypical lifestyles in their senior years. Each has a particular set of goals that contributes to their successful over-50 lifestyle.

According to Hardin, we are on the eve of a social revolution that "will permanently change the way society views life after 50." He concludes with a note to wary baby boomers: We came into this world with a boom and we changed everything in our path, but the best is truly yet to come because it's never too late to live your dreams..."