Summary of Who Do You Want to Be When You Grow Old?

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Who Do You Want to Be When You Grow Old? book summary

Editorial Rating



  • Visionary
  • Engaging
  • Inspiring


Purpose pioneers Richard J. Leider and David A. Shapiro discuss aging with the understanding that confronting the challenges and inevitability of getting old keeps you productive and fulfilled in your later years. They warn of the dangers of living a “default” life, drifting from one day to the next – a surefire path to dissatisfaction. They provide a framework for “purposeful aging”:  a foundation of self-exploration, intentional choices and service to others.

About the Authors

Richard J. Leider is the founder of Inventure – The Purpose Company and the co-author of the bestsellers Repacking Your Bags and The Power of Purpose. Philosopher and educator David A. Shapiro is the co-author of Repacking Your Bags and Something to Live For.


You can be the person you seek to be.

Society views aging as a diminishment. Shed this mind-set and adopt the attitude that you will continue to flourish, evolve and contribute to the world, throughout your life, despite the challenges of aging.

At the heart of this mind-set lies purpose, and the belief that your life has substance and value.

Embrace the changes and experiences of senior adulthood by owning the word “old.”

American culture celebrates youth and frames aging as the decline of vitality and relevancy. Yet the second half of your life is no less valuable than the first. Own the word “old,” and embrace the experiences of senior adulthood.

The word “old” inhibits when people view it as a negative descriptor, feel marginalized or deny the facts of aging. They internalize the notion, perpetuated throughout society, that old age is an affliction rather than a life stage. As you face unavoidable changes in your mind and body, reimagine what they signal. Your later years can be the most profound and fulfilling time of your life – an opportunity to live in alignment with your core values. Getting...

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