Prosperity is defined as a "successful, flourishing or thriving condition, especially in financial respects; good fortune." Prosperity economics is a strategy designed to allow you to live a rich, full life—and hopefully, a long one.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average life expectancy in the United States has increased from 70.8 years in 1970 to more than 78 years today. That means you're going to need more financial resources to ensure that you have health care, comfortable living accommodations, and leisure activities.
In other words, if you're going to live long and prosper, you're probably going to want to practice prosperity economics.
To understand what it means to live long and prosper, you needn't look further than the man who coined the phrase in the 1960s, when the average life expectancy was less than 70 years.
Leonard Nimoy, who played Mr. Spock on the iconic television program Star Trek, made the phrase part of the American culture as he acted out the part of a half-human, half-Vulcan character. But he also made it his personal mantra, living a rich, full life until he passed away in 2015 at the age of 83.
Whether he knew it or not, Nimoy was practicing prosperity economics, and he just may have become a role model for the millions of Americans who are living longer and more fulfilling lives.
Lessons from Mr. Spock
There was a time when people who lived to be older than 65 were expected to sit idly by and watch time pass. Older people, it was believed, were not capable of contributing much to popular culture, politics, or business.
Leonard Nimoy disagreed.
While he is best known for his work as Mr. Spock, Nimoy actually accomplished much, much more in his 83 years. His achievements include more than 130 acting roles, directing three movies (including the popular "Three Men and A Baby"), five music albums, two autobiographies, nine books of poetry, and a series of photography books. Plus, he accomplished much of it in his 60s and 70s.
In addition, he was a champion of philanthropy, creating The Nimoy Foundation, which supports the arts.
Leonard Nimoy created a legacy that goes well beyond Star Trek—he taught people around the world how to live with vitality well into their golden years.
There has never been a better time for seniors
If you think that Nimoy is the only person to live with vigor and vitality throughout his golden years, you are mistaken.
Look at singer-songwriter and businessman Jimmy Buffett, who is turning 70 and still tours the country every summer while running a multi-million-dollar company. Consider Betty White, who is in her 90s and still making audiences laugh on television and making the late-night talk show rounds.
Yes, there has never been a better time for seniors.
In fact, people between the ages of 55 and 64 are driving innovation, which in turn drives the economy. According to the Ewing Marion Kaufman Foundation, which is focused on promoting lifelong education and entrepreneurial achievement, people in the 55 to 64 age group are starting businesses at rates that are much higher than those who are in their 20s and 30s.
And why wouldn't older Americans drive innovation and the economy? They're living and working longer and leveraging their experience to create, promote change and lead younger generations into the future. In short, seniors are heeding Nimoy's advice. They are living longer and more prosperous lives, which is what prosperity economics is all about.
Take control of your future; become a "seniorpreneur"
If you are between the ages of 55 and 64 and still working, don't worry. You are not alone and you can still take control of your future by becoming a "seniorpreneur."
According to a study conducted by the American Association of Retired People (AARP), one out of every 20 workers who are older than 50 and employed plan to start their own business.
And if you are not currently employed, there's a good chance you are thinking about changing that. The AARP also says that one out of every five people older than 50 who is not currently working aspires to one day start their own business.
Chances are good that you share their dreams.
Many people have passions that fill their idle minds. They may dream about being their own bosses. They may dream about inventing an entirely new product. Or, they may dream about building a better mousetrap.
If you have these dreams, it may be time to take control of your future by becoming a "seniorpreneur."
Fresh perspective + skills + connections = success
It might sound counter-intuitive, but seniors and people with decades of experience in the workforce actually bring a fresh perspectives to start-ups. They also have deep skill sets and established networks of professional contacts. Add it all up and you just might have a recipe for success.
Here's why it works:
- The fresh perspective on start-ups. Most start-ups these days are focused on rapid growth and profits. And that's fine. But start-ups that are the brainchildren of seniors tend to be focused on hobbies, keen interests, and personal satisfaction. These focus areas accomplish two very important things. First, they are more likely to provide long-term satisfaction. Second, they are more likely to lead to long-term viability because they are labors of love.
- The skill set. It has been said that there is no substitute for experience, and after spending decades in the workforce, seniors certainly have plenty of it. The tangible and intangible knowledge and skills that come from that experience create a type of practical wisdom that simply cannot be taught in a classroom. And practical wisdom is what prosperity economics is all about.
- The networks. Over time, people in the workforce develop broad professional networks. Those that are built on trust and mutual respect stand the test of time—even if you've been out of the workforce for a while. This means you will probably be able to tap back into your professional networks when you are ready to start your business and become a "seniorpreneur."
The nice thing about practicing prosperity economics is that you don't have to do it alone. You can look to people like Nimoy, Buffett, and Davis for inspiration.
Or, if you are more inclined to find inspiration from people who aren't big-name celebrities, you can look up Dick Hansler, who worked for GE for more than 40 years and then, at 88 years of age, started LowBlueLights.com as a way to make healthier light bulbs.
You can also look at 68-year-old Paul Tasner, who started Pulpworks, a company that specializes in recycled packaging. Or you can look at Mannequin Madness, a company started by Judi Henderson-Townsend that now repairs, refurbishes, and resells used mannequins.
The point is, inspiration is everywhere. Look around and you are sure to find someone who can inspire you to follow your dreams and practice the principles of prosperity economics.
The more things change...
Of course, jumping back into the workforce—especially when you're starting your own business—will include a learning curve. But don't worry: the more things change, the more they stay the same.
So definitely make sure you figure out social media. Your new business will need an online presence. The good news is that social media is all about communicating—and you've been doing that for your entire career.
You'll also have to use new technologies, such as podcasts and videos and emerging medias, to learn. But that's OK too, because you wouldn't be working to start your own business if you weren't a life-long learner.
Unless you want to risk your nest egg, you're probably going to need funding. The good news is that there's plenty of funding available through online crowdsourcing. The better news is that there are still old-school investors.
The bottom line is that if you want to truly live long and prosper, you can. All you have to do is see the world—and yourself—with a fresh perspective.
So good luck. And please, live long and prosper.