Richard Leider is a veteran executive coach and the author or co-author of eight books, including a bestseller called "Repacking Your Bags." His recently released "Life Reimagined," with Alan Webber, the co-founder of Fast Company magazine, is sponsored by AARP, the retirement organization, and is targeted at baby boomers who are facing transitions.
Q: What's the purpose of "Life Reimagined"?
A: We are all participants in one of the most significant social movements of our time. We are engaged in the creation of a new phase of life. The new life phase comes after middle age and before old age. The purpose of the "Life Reimagined" book is to provide a road map and a guidance system to help people navigate and thrive in the new phase of life.
Q: Who is the target audience?
A: People who may be "pushed by pain" (unwanted changes) or "pulled by possibilities" (new dreams). Our hope is that this book will spark a movement that goes beyond a generation encountering aging to engage people of all ages in answering a fundamental question of our era: "What's next?"
This is a reality-based approach, not a "go-to-a-vineyard-in-California'' approach. A lot of people got to a certain age … and they thought they had it together and they go on cruise control into the golden years. But the reality is things are different for many. No. 1, there's a longevity revolution. We're living longer. So from a health and financial and relationship and work perspective, we need to make these three extra decades work for us.
Q: What is the relationship between the book and your publishing partner AARP?
A: This new phase of life renders obsolete the myths and conventional wisdom of the last 50 years, the "old story" … that has defined the trajectory of our life course and constrained the choices available to us in the second half of life. The "new story" is also the story of AARP as it re-imagines itself to be relevant to upcoming generations. AARP copublished the book with my publisher, Berrett-Koehler, as the "handbook for the aging revolution" that they are leading.
Q: Can anyone go to www.lifereimagined.org and enroll and go through the process?
A: Yes. And it is free. Plus, there will be "live events" of seminars, talks, meet-ups, book chats in every state. "Life Reimagined" says that everyone is an "experiment of one" but that "isolation is fatal." You don't need to go it alone! The website and the live events follow a reality-based "map," or methodology, to guide people through their own process and connect them with a community of people going through a similar process. We've had 300,000 people visit the site. With no advertising or no push.
Q: Give me an example of somebody who "re-imagined life."
A: Paulie Gee had a "pizza epiphany" and went from being a computer geek to opening a pizzeria in Brooklyn, N.Y. John Drury lost over 100 pounds and is transforming his life from over-the road-truck driver to Zumba fitness instructor. Tripp Hanson went from Broadway actor to acupuncturist. And, Barb Timberlake, who stepped out of 26 years as a Washington bureaucrat to become a professional dog-walker. Each of these stories has a rich trajectory and every one of them had a "domino" effect — the first small step led to multiple changes in their lives.
Q: You have talked about the importance of purpose. What role does purpose play in "Life Reimagined"?
A: There are three fundamentals to positive, active aging: Money. Medicine. Meaning.
Meaning matters at all phases of life but particularly in the second half of life. Purpose is fundamental. Our immune system depends on it. Purpose provides the meaning that goes with means. So many people today have financial means, but very little meaning or purpose. Many people are high on "success" but low on meaning. Most people want success with meaning.
The three stages of purpose are uncovering your gifts, your talents, and discovering that it's more about us than you. That's how we connect and build for the sake of others as well as ourselves. The third stage is rediscovering; how to serve people and the planet. Even in a small way, but beyond ourselves and our families.
Q: In conclusion?
A: We wrote a very strong chapter titled: "GET REAL."
It was written for all the skeptics and cynics who were afraid to re-imagine, or critical of others who were reimagining.
At the heart of "Life Reimagined" is a manifesto that calls on each of us to live our lives with "choice, curiosity, and courage."
We show in this chapter how it does not require any major moves or money to explore your "real possibilities." We've got a lot of skeptics. I think it's a necessity to have a midlife crisis or midlife quest. It's good to push the pause button and check it out. It doesn't cost anything to do some reflection, some connection and exploration.