Peter Drucker,
the father of modern management, once noted that we are the first generation to have two lives – a first half and a second half. Over a hundred years ago, many people lived to only 45-50 years of age. Now, as we have seen in this series of posts, many people are living well into their 70s and 80s … and some well beyond this (100+ and 110+). 

As a result of this, even at the age of 50, you could have at least another 30 years of contribution. This thought became the seed idea for the concept of “halftime” popularised by one of Drucker’s students, Bob Buford. In his best-selling book, Halftime: Changing Your Gameplan from Success to Significance, Buford talks about how we often focus on success in our first half of life, whatever that may mean to us. But most people in their mid to late 40s start to ask questions about the meaning and purpose of life. Is there all there is? Do I want to do this the rest of my life?

Bob Buford goes on to encourage people at that stage of life to have a meaningful ‘halftime’ where they take time to pause … and to reflect on their first half and to consider whether their focus may need to shift. Why simply repeat the first half? Why not shift your focus from success to a life of significance? Is it time to make some changes?

This thinking had a huge influence on me. I read Bob’s book when I was 40 years of age. I liked the concepts at the time but I was too busy growing a mega-church. By the age of 50, our church had grown to around 10,000 people and I was tired. During my first sabbatical, back in 2012, I attended a two-day event in Dallas, U.S.A. led by Bob Buford and his team. It was a very impacting time as I started to clarify what I wanted my future to look like. One of Bob’s mantras to us about our second half of significance was, “Get clear, get free, and then get going!” However, not much changed for me over the next few years.

Then in 2016, the small group I led at church, made up of business leaders and entrepreneurs, went through a Halftime Roundtable experience led by John Sikkema, now the Executive Director of Halftime Australia. It proved to be instrumental in my own life and vocational journey. Through this process, I became even clearer about what I wanted my future to be. I didn’t want to keep leading a large, complex organization where I was spending two-thirds of my time in meetings. I eventually gathered up enough courage to resign and transition out of the role I had held for 22 years. I got free and then I got going with my new future. After taking a few months off, I started engaging in some freelance work – coaching others, speaking at churches and conferences, writing, and working with business people. I am not working as hard nor as long hours as I have for the last three decades. Yet I am finding more joy and fulfillment than I can remember for a long time. I have more time with my family and I look forward to each day.

So what about you?

How is your life going? Where are you on your journey? What kind of ‘success’ are you chasing? Are your really happy with your life and the direction it is heading? If you didn’t have your current job, would you apply for it (that’s a question my wife, Nicole, asked me a few years back and it stopped me in my tracks!)? What could ‘significance’ look like for you?

The next few decades are a blank page – what story will you write?

It has been said before that we often put more time and energy into planning for our next holiday than we do in planning our life. Let’s change that and make sure we are living our lives on purpose – with clarity, passion, and joy. This will require an investment of time, most likely some help from others, and a good dose of courage to make the decisions we need to make. But I guarantee, you will be glad you did.

Here are a few resources you might like to consider:

  1. Read Bob Buford’s book Halftime: Changing Your Gameplan from Success to Significance.
  2. Read Playing Life’s Second Half: A Man’s Guide for Turning Success into Significance by David J. Powell for an even more in-depth personal look at the second half of life, especially for men.
  3. If you are a business person living in Australia, contact Halftime Australia and consider signing up for a Halftime Roundtable or engaging a personal coach.
  4. If you are a pastor, consider attending a two-day halftime event designed especially for pastors (visit the Pastors Halftime website for more information).

Next – Part 5: Is Our View of Retirement Still Working?

Back to Part 1.

[Photo Source: KDA Consulting]

2 thoughts on “Could You Live to 100 Years of Age? (Part 4)

  1. Great post Mark however it seems to me the options you present in the post are for those who well resourced, mainly in a financial sense. Resourced well enough to be able to do a two-day round table, to be able to just stop and change directions, to work less (or potentially more), to be able to have a personal coach etc.
    There are many who simply cannot even contemplate doing any of this.
    Most people are just focussed on paying the next bill, putting food on the table, not losing their job! What of these people? Options are very, very limited, despite the longing for change. Yes, we can read the books, get inspired but ultimately there is a reality to be faced and that is just to keep going with what we have, change what we can but in most cases, not in a significant way.

  2. Really good feedback, Mike. It is true – resources (time and finances) do give people more freedom and options. However, most people, especially in the West, do have choices they make as to where they live, work, and do life, as well as what they do with their spare time. We can easily degenerate into using language such as “I have to” rather than “I choose to”. The truth is we have more options than we often realize. I recall a couple who were under tremendous financial pressure, both working two jobs just to keep up with their house mortgage. After a conversation we had, they ended up selling their house, buying a much smaller one and ended up happier with the wife being able to move to part-time work, etc. I know some other people who sold up and moved an hour out of Melbourne where living expenses are much cheaper and their life has drastically changed as to what they are now free to do. Anyway, I hear what you are saying but it is easy for people to think they are ‘stuck’ in the world they have when often change is just a decision away – though it will most likely take courage to make these kinds of big decisions.

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