What’s your 100-year plan? Finding ikigai in life and business


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Edith Ceccarelli just celebrated her 116th birthday this week on Feb. 5. She is officially the oldest person in the United States and the second oldest person in the world. She is just weeks behind María Branyas Morera, the oldest documented person in the world, who celebrated her 116th birthday on Jan. 24, 2024.

Jeanne Louise Calment was the oldest verified person to have ever lived. This Frenchwoman lived to 122 and 164 days old and passed away in 1997.

People are simply living longer. There were 89,739 centenarians living in the United States in 2021, nearly twice as many as 20 years ago, according to data from the Population Division of the United Nations.

As we cruise further into 2024, I can’t help but think about “the plan.” We are often told we need a five-year plan, a 10-year plan, or a retirement plan. But what happens if you live to be 100? Are you prepared to bankroll your life until you become a centenarian?

As a senior housing specialist, navigating the realities of aging is my day-to-day. So many of my clients aren’t prepared for the rest of their lives — mentally, financially and physically in a home that lends to safely aging in place. 

Previous work culture told us we must prepare to slow down and exit the workforce as we approach our 60s. Things have shifted. In my past year working alongside boomers and the silent generation, one thing stands out boldly: Those 55+ have no intentions of slowing down anytime soon. 

Similarly, agents are not looking for a “rest” in the symphony of their lives. They want to write their next significant movement in their careers and leave a legacy of a well-lived life. So the big question is: If more and more people are living to 100, is your five- or 10-year plan, or even your entire retirement plan, enough?

Here, we’ll talk about the philosophy of ikigai. It originates from an island in Japan, Okinawa, that has one of the highest concentrations of centenarians in the world. They’ve figured out a work-life outlook that leads to longevity (and a Netflix documentary where you can learn more), what it costs to live that long and why you should add an extra zero onto your 10-year plan.

Sipping from the fountain of youth and searching for secrets

Brad Inman walked out on stage at Inman Connect New York 2024 and said he wants to live forever.

He’s started a new venture that will help him analyze his journey and create resources for others like himself to help them potentially hack the system and their health to live longer.

Inman spoke about health sciences, the art of living your best life and how if you take care of yourself now, it’ll save you financially when you’re older. He spoke of family, business and joy.

So many of us are just trying to make it to retirement, but we should look at how we can obtain joy and purpose until we cease to be and lean into the fact that our careers will be longer than we ever expected.

I think Brad Inman is talking about embracing the wonder and majesty of a sweet and purposeful life. This concept is outlined in the Japanese philosophy called ikigai.

Ikigai (ee-key-guy) is a Japanese concept that combines the terms iki, meaning “alive” or “life,” and gai, meaning “benefit” or “worth.”When combined, these terms mean that which gives your life worth, meaning, or purpose.

Ikigai is similar to the French term “raison d’etre” or “reason for being.”  — The Philosophy of Ikigai: 3 Examples About Finding Purpose, Jeffrey Gaines, Ph.D.

In a Netflix docuseries called Live to 100: Secrets of the Blue Zones, author Dan Buettner travels around the world to discover five communities where people live long and vibrant lives.

Buettner found that it’s lifestyle, diet and a sense of purpose that contribute to the longevity of inhabitants on the island of Okinawa, where 68 out of 100,000 residents live to be 100. (If you are looking for an excellent binge-watch while you are continuing to readjust your business plan for 2024, I highly recommend it.)

Wellness has been a trending topic for decades, but as we age as a world together, we will see even more content and thought leaders promoting a lifestyle around living to 100 and redefining what aging looks like.

Along with this goal comes the elephant in the room that we cannot ignore: The longer-term financial cost of living longer. This means that our budgets also need to adjust with this new perspective.

The cost of living to 100

In January, I tackled two articles about seniors, senior living, and how to work with this unique demographic. It’s crucial to remember that, according to National Association of Realtors stats:

We need to accept that many “new” agents are folks who are 40-plus and that the housing industry needs to look at the data holistically to provide better training in customer service and work-life balance to meet the needs of the agents doing the bulk of the labor.

I don’t believe that the classic “always be closing,” hustle culture mentality is what’s fueling these 60-year-old Realtors into retirement. It’s time for a new plan because what’s worked in the past won’t work for the next generation of longer-living Realtors.

One of Inman’s top financial planning contributors, Jordan Curnutt, wrote an excellent piece about how agents must plan for seven financial milestones. The seven milestones have a specific timeline, starting at age 59.5 and reaching age 73.

The older we get, the more savvy we will need to become to be aware of all the hoops, rules, regulations and strategies to manage those carefully saved funds (and hopefully make them last).

One thing that I see often is that women especially need a competent financial planner, as they are more likely to outlive their spouses into their 90s. If you aren’t the person who handles the household finances or end-of-life planning (which tends to be women in the boomer and silent generations, possibly because women weren’t fully allowed to have their own bank accounts and credit cards until 1974), you should be prepared to should the worst happen.

Curnutt gives some good advice about not tapping into your benefits too soon, and I think he is smart to give a nod to planning for the long game.

“For every year that you continue to delay taking your Social Security benefits past age 67, you receive an 8 percent bump to your monthly benefits. This fact plays a significant role in evaluating the total value of your Social Security benefit over your life expectancy. So, be sure to crunch the numbers before blindly claiming at 67,” CFP Jordan Curnutt writes.

Experts at GoBankingRates.com estimate that the basic costs of living to be a centenarian stack up quickly, and it’s something to ponder as you dream about what your last years could look like.

  • 35 years of food will cost $167,895.
  • 35 years of healthcare will cost $263,900.
  • 35 years of housing will cost $817,670.
  • 35 years of incidentals will cost $506,905.

Spending 35 years in retirement has an estimated average cost of $1,756,370.

The primary wild card is how much time you’ll need to spend in an assisted living facility. This is where Brad Inman’s argument for using science to hack your body into its best potential health shows that you could save massive amounts of money — if you can stay healthy and prolong needing higher levels of care.

Real estate is not a career path that you retire into — it’s a path that individuals choose because they want to be here. For many, it’s a second or third career.

Many agents are not looking to retire at 65; they are looking to write their next significant movement and build a legacy that will last way beyond what they ever did in a corporate board room.

It’s time to rethink your plan

Now is the time to dream about living to 100. Think about what that will look like and how your family, career, finances, friends and purpose fit into that plan. If your plan doesn’t extend to 100, it’s time to rethink it.

Time is fleeting, but we may have more than we originally planned for. Use it wisely to find your purpose. But most of all, focus on building new traditions around joy and becoming an expert in real estate and the art of living well.

Rachael Hite is a former agent, a business development specialist, fair housing advocate, copy editor and is currently perfecting her long game selling homes in a retirement community in Northern Virginia. You can connect with her about life, marketing and business on Instagram.


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