The midlife comfort paradigm


“At 50, everyone has the face he deserves.”

George Orwell

The ageing population

The life expectancy statistic is a deceiving one. Rising steadily for 200-years before recently plateauing, it would have us believe that we are living (considerably) longer than our forbears. This is simply not the case. Life expectancy is an average, reached by adding up the age they die, and dividing by the number of deaths. Our 200-years of growth indicates a trend at the other end of life; child mortality. What is actually happening with our ageing population, thanks to modern medicine, is more of us are getting to old age healthier, and that is compounded by general population growth. It was called a baby boom for a reason.

The downside of all this survival/growth is the pressure it has put on the tradition of retiring our elderly, and looking after them in their dotage. A comfortable retirement in the traditional context is becoming exceedingly harder to achieve.

The good news is that we will have more people to share our adventures, we are social animals after all. Although finding someone with an adventurous spirit will get increasingly harder.

The adventurous spirit is ageing

Out of the Big Five personality traits that psychologists measure – extroversion, agreeableness, openness, conscientiousness, and neuroticism – openness is the one most associated with adventure. People with this trait feature characteristics such as imagination and insight, and tend to have a broad range of interests. They are curious about the world, other people, eager to learn new things and enjoy new experiences.

A study published in 2003 involving 130,000 participants aged 21-60 found that openness increased modestly up to age thirty and then declined slowly in both men and women, becoming non-existent in our sixties. This is terrifyingly close to the traditional retirement age. However, it is not entirely bad news. Psychologist Richard W. Robins of the University of California, Davis, showed in a longitudinal study that those who begin life with a more open personality remain relatively more open in their later years. Once an adventurer, always an adventurer. 

The study also explains the trap many have fallen into: postponing adventure while you still have an openness while in your fifties, only to have lost it by the time you retire. I have heard many stories of the disappointment of traditional retirement, this probably explains why.

How many times have you heard of 

So the time to plan your adventures is now, in your fifties, before the gap closes.

Have I made you uncomfortable?

Adventure is risk, risk is adventure

Our reduction in openness as we age means we grow resistant to change, new ideas, new things or abstract theories. To me, this is counterintuitive. We have already taken all the big risks, and survived, and thrived, learning from the stumbles and setbacks. We know that the concerns of our twenties are surmountable (and some of them kind of ridiculous), the things that kept us up all night worrying in our thirties were overcome. We adapted, and are richer for it.

I remember the old man who said he had known a great many troubles in his life, but the worst of them never happened.

President-elect James A. Garfield 1881

We find ourselves more comfortable, financially stable, with fewer responsibilities – the children have left, and if the career hasn’t happened, it won’t – and being an astronaut or a world leader won’t happen either. 

We are freer than any other time of our lives.

Real-life lifestyle business creation

Watch as I (a regular person in his fifties) create lifestyle businesses and report on the results, along with simple downloadable guides for you to follow at home.

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The Digital Enterprise Lab

I shall first create a fresh new website – I will call it my Digital Enterprise Lab – a testbed to host the varying enterprises and experiments.

I have quite a lot of experience using WordPress, and as this is the number-one way websites are created (and far more flexible than your web builders like Wix, etc), it makes sense for demonstration purposes.

The criteria for my digital testbed are:

  • It needs to host multiple domains – I want separate names for the sites – selling yoga mats on a site called just won’t work
  • It needs free SSL certificates for each domain – to avoid the horrible “Not Secure” warning and to comply with privacy regulations.
  • It needs to reasonably priced while not compromising on speed – a key criteria in Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Once I have done that, I can create various email addresses to be used on third party sites, like Shoppify, Redbubble, Teespring, etc.


I would fully recommend following along with your own testbed so you too can conduct similar experiments with my instructions. Even if you find it isn’t for you, there will be the satisfaction of creating your own website that might translate to your local club – or if you are feeling particularly entrepreneurial, you might even be able to sell it as a blank site that is already set up. …

For less than US$50 you can create a website with:

  • domain name,
  • hosting,
  • e-commerce,
  • blog
  • Appointment booking
  • Event Tickets
  • Online courses
  • …plus lots more
Download the Digital Enterprise Lab ebook

© 2021 A Claytons Retirement

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