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Marc Freedman, hailed by theNew York Timesas "the voice of aging baby boomers [seeking] meaningful and sustaining work later in life," offers a recipe for how we can transform America's coming midlife crisis into a midlife opportunity. Millions of people in their fifties, sixties, and seventies are searching for answers to the question "What's next?" and are navigating their way to an entirely new stage of life and work, one that could last as long as midlife. Shifting to a much longer lifespan isn't as easy as it may seem. Unlike the transition from adolescence to adulthood, managing this process for many is a do-it-yourself project. Drawing on powerful personal stories,The Big Shiftprovides not only direction but a vision of what it would take to help millions find their footing in a new map of life.
The movement of millions of sixty-somethings into a new phase in their working lives constitutes one of the most significant social trends in this country in nearly half a century. Encore describes the competing visions for work that are already lining up to capture the hearts and minds, and the time, of waves of baby boomers who are not content, or affluent enough, to spend their next twenty or thirty years on the golf course. Baby boomers are searching for a calling in the second half of life; they are moving beyond midlife yet refusing to phase out or fade away. If the old dream of the Golden Years was the Freedom from Work, the dream of this new wave is the Freedom to Work-in new ways, on new terms, to new ends. As their numbers begin to swell, these individuals hold the potential not only to transform work in America, but to create a society that balances the joys and responsibilities of contribution across the generations-in other words, one that works better for everyone.
"Encore tells the stories of Ryder, Speedling, Chambers, and other encore career pioneers who are not content, or affluent enough, to spend their next thirty years on a golf course. These men and women are moving beyond midlife careers yet refusing to phase out or fade away. They are searching for a calling in the second half of life, crafting a new phase of work that offers not only continued income but the promise of more meaning - and the chance to do work that means something beyond themselves. As their numbers swell, these individuals stand to transform the nature of work in America. They also hold the potential to create a society that balances the joys and responsibilities of contribution across the generations - in other words, one that works better for all of us."--BOOK JACKET.
Over the next three decades, the number of Americans over fifty will double, swelling to more than a quarter of the population. Already we are living thirty years longer than a century ago, with further gains expected in the coming years. The end result is a new stage of life, one as long or longer than childhood or middle age in duration, and one spent in unprecedented good health. Yet, as individuals, and as a society, we've shown little imagination or wisdom in using this great gift of a third age. Marc Freedman identifies the new longevity as not a problem to be solved, but an opportunity to be seized-provided we can engage the experience, talent, and idealism of older Americans. At a juncture when the middle-generation faces a time-famine, struggling to simultaneously raise kids and work long hours on the job, the older generation is awash in free time, poised to succeed women as the trustees of civic life in this country. In the process they stand to find new meaning and purpose in their lives, and abandon the limbo-like state unfulfilling for so many older individuals. Freedman argues that the aging phenomenon, the massive transformation that many portray as our downfall, may in fact be our best hope for renewal as a nation.
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