Opinion: Don’t Start Work Until Age 40

According to Laura Carstensen, a Psychologist at the Stanford Center on Longevity, our lives and careers have been arranged wrong. She contends that we shouldn’t start working until the age of 40. Instead, she purports that rather than a four-decade professional sprint ending abruptly at age 65, we should plan for longer careers which are dotted with more breaks along the way. Breaks that account for the myriad factors in one’s life, namely family needs and opportunities for more learning.

The current norms around career pacing don’t allow young adults to explore careers through education and apprenticeships.  The current model doesn’t account for the demands that come with having children or aging parents. And lastly, it doesn’t factor in that most 65-year-old retirees still need to be engaged professionally and socially in large part because people are living longer and need more money for retirement.

Her work focuses on redesigning institutions and thinking about shaping work cultures to help accommodate this shifting paradigm in the population.

What do you think of this idea? Would you be willing to work longer over the span of your life, if it afforded you more flexibility and breaks along the way? Comment and let us know your thoughts.

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