“Here comes the 60-year career” proclaims the Wall Street Journal

I’ve got news for the WSJ, this time is already here for many people:

Get ready for longer careers. Probably much longer.

Charlotte Japp is setting the groundwork for it. Since graduating from college 10 years ago, Ms. Japp has worked in marketing at three companies in different industries and simultaneously launched Cirkel, a startup that connects younger and older employees for two-way career support.

Currently head of platform at ff Venture Capital in New York, Ms. Japp, 32, doesn’t see her career as linear, and doesn’t picture her progression as moving up a single, well-defined ladder. Instead, she envisions her career as long and varied—a marathon that will involve changing directions, with stops and restarts along the way.

“I know I’m going to have a career over a very long stretch and it won’t be just one thing,” Ms. Japp says. “Plus there’ll be more fluidity between periods of work, school and family.”

Millennials like Ms. Japp, as well as the generations behind them, are starting to think about their careers in a totally different way from their elders. They have no choice: Because they are likely to live healthily into their 90s or longer, they must learn to navigate 60-year careers instead of the traditional 40-year span.

But such a change will require a new mind-set when it comes to planning a career. Instead of advancing vertically up a single path, for instance, people will need to move sideways—and even down at times—as they traverse different jobs and multiple careers. They will have to make sure they have adequate income to sustain themselves over lengthy lives. They will need to figure out where they derive the most job satisfaction so they don’t burn out after decades of working. They will have to keep acquiring new skills to avoid becoming obsolete. And, if they can afford to, they may want to take occasional career breaks to balance their personal and professional lives.

I have noticed an increasing number of people you see working retail are at the ages — 70s and 80s — that you might not have seen as much previously.

I think an extension of the active working age is a good thing. Some studies have shown pretty clearly that sitting around doing nothing is a sure way to mental and physical decline.

However, having to shlep up and down ladders at big box stores carrying 40-lb boxes is not something that someone in their 80s should be doing.

When I worked at Lowe’s we had a number of elderly associates severely injure their aged backs and joints doing things that people half their ages would not have issues doing. Retail needs to make allowances for these people.

According to Lowe’s “Bob Adams, 93, works five days a week, helping customers get started on exterior home projects.”

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