Sneak Peek at a New Project — 60 Weeks to 60!

During the next 60 weeks, as I sprint towards my 60th birthday, I will take on assignments that stretch me in many different directions, including doing things I’ve never done before, looking at my life in new ways, and reflecting on the process of getting older. Taking a few hours, a few days, or even a few weeks, each project must require me to challenge assumptions, connect things in unlikely ways, and break some “rules” by looking at my life and my environment from a fresh perspective.

I invite you to join me on this journey by reading about my experiences, suggesting ideas for challenges, taking part in projects yourself, and sharing your stories. The project will launch on June 1, sixty weeks before my 60th birthday. You can follow the project here.

Why sixty? It turns out that in many parts of the world sixty is an incredibly meaningful birthday. The Chinese calendar, for example, is based on the zodiac, which has 12 signs and five natural elements: metal, fire, water, earth, and wood. When an individual reaches 60 years old, he or she has gone passed through all combinations of zodiac signs and natural elements. This is considered the full cycle of life, returning you to the beginning. At 60 we begin our life anew!

Sixty is also a very meaningful age for those of us living in the West. It is the time when we start talking about retiring, or “rewiring” ourselves for the next chapter of our lives. There is lots of research that proves that the things we do when we are younger deeply influence how we age. Our physical, emotional, and financial health depends on choices and actions that we begin years earlier. Sixty is, therefore, a great time to being thinking about life at 70, 80, 90, and even 100. In addition, in the past, before the advent of modern medicine, far fewer people reached the age of 60. As a result, this milestone is even more important now. It is an important opportunity to reflect on life, to celebrate all each of us has accomplished, and to seriously consider the future. It behooves us to decide how we will live out those extra years, and how do we make them as meaningful as possible.

This is just as relevant for someone who is 20, 30 and 40 as it is for someone who is 60. We always have the opportunity to define and redefine who we are. I look back over my life and I have organically redefined myself over and over again. By stepping back and looking at one’s life in decades, as opposed to days or weeks, you see very different patterns. Big changes — or pivots — take time to reveal themselves.

I’ve been teaching classes on creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship at Stanford University for the past 17 years, where I prepare students to tackle problems of all sizes. Now, I turn the tables and will apply these lessons to myself. The design brief would read:

How might I reinvent myself at 60 years old?

Hope you will join me on this journey!