The pandemic has been a catalyst for reflection on what matters most and what constitutes a good life today. For many, it’s sparked a realization that there’s much more to life than the traditional model of work and careers. But what’s next for you? For those contemplating retiring, perhaps earlier than expected, it’s an opportunity to redesign their lives and pivot to a phase with greater meaning and purpose. How are you approaching your second half of life and retiring? Uncertainity leads many people to approach it with trepidation. Michael Clinton, the author of the new book ROAR into the second half of your life (before it’s too late!), asserts that there’s a better way. We discuss his four-part process to help you take charge of your next phase.
Michael Clinton is the former President and Publishing Director of Hearst Magazines and is currently the special media advisor to the CEO of the Hearst Corporation. He is also a writer and photographer who has traveled to over 120 countries. He has appeared in the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Town and Country, O, the Oprah Magazine, and other national media.
Clinton is the Founder of Circle of Generosity, a nonprofit that grants random acts of kindness to those in need and serves on multiple nonprofit boards. His newest book, ROAR into the second half of your life (before it’s too late!) is a manifesto on how to get the most out of your life experience in work, lifestyle, and relationships.
On the acronym ROAR
“First of all, the awareness of if you’re 50 and you’re healthy today, you have a really good shot at living to be 90 – or a hundred. And the construct that we were handed by our parents – and by both government policy and corporations – is a very outdated construct. The days they were developed in were the days when the life expectancy quite honestly was in the early 60s. And so you’d check out of a job and you wouldn’t live much longer. Well, all that’s changed. So ROAR and the acronym that it stands for is designed to help people have that aha moment about this. So they are: Re-imagine yourself and be one of those “Re-Imagineers” before others do it for you, whether it is being laid off or pushed out or any of the above.
And re-imagining your favorite future, especially if you’re going to have this long life arc, the O is own who you are. I like to call it a midlife awakening, not a midlife crisis because once you’ve lived 25 years, you know a lot about yourself. So use that awakening [to accept ]that you’ve made good decisions and bad decisions – just kind of own them and assess where you are right now. But at the same time, own your numbers. Think about it – it’s amazing to me, Joe, how many people I ask what’s your blood pressure or your heart rate, and they’re completely clueless. And that’s not a good thing because as we live longer, we need to keep our health numbers and metrics in place with our financial numbers. We need to own our successes and our failures. So, own who you are, is a big part of this book, and what’s next for you. A is Act now with this concept called life layering, which I hope we can get into and talk about. And then the final R is reassess your relationships, because when you’re in midlife and you want to make a change in whatever part of your life you’re talking about, you need the support of your family, your friends, your community, your colleagues. They’re the ones who are going to help facilitate that. And so you gotta really have a clear, clear head as to who they are and who your posse will be to get you there. So it’s this four-step process, which is in the book, which stands for ROAR.”
On Being Person-Appropriate – Not Age-Appropriate
“We all are sort of wired to think about what a 50-plus life is supposed to be, which is an outdated concept. So the biggest mistake people make is they create self-imposed ages. And so I like to say, it’s not age-appropriate, it’s person-appropriate because you can parent at 50, you can start a new business at 65 or 70. You can get remarried at 80. There’s a lot that you can do in terms of creating your person-appropriate approach to your second half. We live in a culture of ageism in both words and images, so it’s a constant fight that the individual has to have. But I find that most people put barriers around themselves. These 40 individuals who told their amazing stories [in the book] were able to free themselves of that barrier and go back to school at a later age, start new careers, and start new relationships. They don’t buy into what they were told they’re supposed to do. And they’re making their lives bigger, not smaller, which a lot of people are doing as they move into their 60s, 70s, and 80s.”
On Being True to Yourself
“Be true to yourself and be true to what you really want to do with your life, how you really want to experience your life, and the things that really matter to you. And you’ve got to course-correct if you abandoned them. Follow your own North Star and what will bring you fulfillment, satisfaction, and enrichment in your life – in a lifelong way. So that’s my message: Be true to yourself.”
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