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Investing in future you

December 5, 2023
Close up of rings of Saturn with red orange overlay
Rachel Slattery creates and nourishes communities of curious minds around frontier tech and better ways of working.
I found it quite interesting to discover successful people are less likely to retire. So are people who need to earn more money. You know why? It’s because external goals – whether they be economic drivers or about ensuring our reputation or social standing – keep us working.

You know who else finds it hard to stop working? Those whose intrinsic goals are being met – they like learning, growing, the relationships, or the impact they are making or the sense of purpose that comes from their work.

Research suggests that the main factor for whether we will continue working as we age is if we have passion for our work. When we have passion for our work, it leads to positive, sustained, meaningful, happy and valuable work experiences and connections which we do not want to end. That is why I am sure people like Ronni Kahn, Ita Buttrose, Maggie Beer, Peter Doherty and Marcia Langton – and many more I admire – are still working. Sure, their work might also make them feel important, make them lots of money or give them a sense of purpose. But I suggest it is mostly because it is their passion.

I think if we imagine work may be part of our long life, we need to want to work out how to make it fulfilling, worthwhile and meaningful – now and in the future. We say that the children of today should be ready for multiple career changes. Are we taking that advice on board ourselves?

Theodore Roosevelt said “Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” Work worth doing. How do we ensure we have work worth doing now and in the future? How do we take time to reflect? To develop new skills? To learn with and from peers?

How can we take steps to ensure we have the best chance to live our preferred future?

I know many people who have found the last few years clarifying. They have moved closer to the coast; reassessed their priorities; and are seeking ways to replenish, re-energise and reimagine their work and their lives.

A number of people in my network have started taking a portfolio approach to their career, incorporating paid and unpaid work giving them more variety, autonomy and purpose. Others have increased their caring roles, embarked on further study or training, started their own businesses, taken on new hobbies or become more involved in their communities. Some have been lucky enough to bring their side hustle centre stage. What is clear is that there is a smorgasbord of work and lifestyle options for the taking as we age – and thanks to longer, healthier lives and ubiquitous connectivity we have many more options than the generations that came before us!

In their book, The 100 Year Life (which I recommend if you have yet to read it!), Gratton and Scott talk about how we need to work on our productive assets – our skills, knowledge, brand and reputation. The book also says we should be working on our vitality assets. These vitality assets – our health, relationships and well-being are the foundation of a good life 🙂 What interests me is what Gratton says will help us navigate our silver futures most – our transformational assets – self-knowledge, diverse networks and openness to new experiences.

‘Transformational assets’ help us see change as an opportunity and help us navigate through transitions, whether they’re those we make deliberately ourselves or are forced upon us.
In her AgileAus23 closing keynote, Zoe Coyle explored the transformative potential of looking inward to cultivate self-awareness. It is an ongoing challenge to develop our self-awareness and it can be assisted by expanding our worlds and seeking feedback from others. The cultivation of diverse networks will help us find people who are essential for our own personal transformations as future role models and collaborators, and it is these networks that bring value over time. The value of new experiences is good for us as it helps us to feel comfortable with ambiguity, unlock new talents and perspectives and spark the passion and joy that ultimately sustains us.

I believe we can build the futures we want. Investing in ourselves should start early, and our need for reflection, examination and reinvention needs to be continuous to unlock our future potential. As George Eliot said – “It is never too late to be what you might have been!”

We are planning some gatherings in 2024 that will provide the opportunity to explore our future selves and to spend meaningful time with other curious humans. If you are interested in being involved you can sign up here to be kept in the loop.

Image Credit: This is a photo of Zoe Coyle taken by Giles Park keynoting at AgileAu23.


Gratton, L. and Scott, A.J (2017) The 100-Year Life. Bloomsbury

Cui, G., Wang, F., Cheng, Y., & Zhang, Y. (2021). Understanding the work goals–early retirement intention relationship: the mediating role of work passion and moderating role of HR practices’ flexibility. Personnel Review, 50(4), 1148-1167.