The 100-Year Life: Making Personal Change for Happiness, Fulfilment and Success

Dr Jon Finn is Founder and Managing Director of Tougher Minds, and delivered keynote remarks at BritishAmerican Business’ recent The STIR Diversity & Inclusion conference

Dr Jon Finn, Founder & Managing Director of Tougher Minds.

I recently spoke at BritishAmerican Business ‘The STIR’ Diversity & Inclusion Conference at The University of Chicago Booth School of Business campus in London. Increased global life expectancy and its implications were the event’s central themes. People could potentially now work 10 to 15 years beyond the traditional retirement age, with anyone born in 2007 statistically expected to live to 103. The conference examined the economic, professional and social impacts of this.

My talk specifically focussed on how this so-called ‘100 Year Life’ is a part of the volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) world we live in. The only constant in our societies is change – however, this does present an opportunity. The need to change and adapt can lead us to fulfilment and happiness. This is because personal growth, improvement and development, or what we call ‘eudomina,’ is essential for humans to feel well and contented.

Brain science and psychology shows that when we improve, succeed, or achieve, in life or work, we feel better. There is a problem however. Humans are primarily designed to survive, and not to feel well and fulfilled as we measure these concepts in the 21st century. The dominant limbic regions of our brain, what we call the A.P.E. Brain, prioritises behaviour that helps us to stay alive and sustain, or increase our social status.

Worries about how we are perceived by our peers is driven by the fact that communication and cooperation with other humans supports our survival. So we often worry too much about what others think. Once our survival and social status are secure, the A.P.E. Brain prioritises short-term gratification. This makes it easy to avoid or procrastinate on doing the type of challenging work that can result in successful purposeful personal development (eudemonia). For example, this could be rigorous academic study, some long-term professional development activity, a difficult project at work, or developing a better sleep habit.

In our world of constant flux, where we need to change and adapt in order to thrive, the desire to give in when something gets difficult can be problematic. In fact, according to researchers the single biggest cause of work burnout is not overload, but working for too long without experiencing personal growth.

What is the solution? Our own applied work and extensive research, supported by global scientific opinion, highlights one thing that seems to be more important than any other for success in the VUCA world. This is the ability to make small adjustments to aspects of our thinking and behaviour which relate to health, happiness and being our best.

To help people to become experts at making these small adjustments in their personal and professional lives, we separate the process into three simple steps: First we give people the reflective tools to think critically (and constructively) about themselves, and their A.P.E. Brain. This then helps them to identify small adjustments they can make to boost their health, happiness and performance. It might be checking smartphones one less time today or writing down one positive achievement at the end of every day.

Finally, we teach people how to use our Adjustments Framework so that they can plan for success, and turn small positive adjustments into permanently helpful habits. People in our programmes find that small adjustments add up to big beneficial changes, and that health, happiness and high performance become easier to achieve. This can profoundly benefit people’s lives and it is why we are passionate about teaching people of all ages to become expert adjusters.

If you want to make a small adjustment to begin boosting your health, happiness or performance you can take our FREE A.P.E. Brain Test here: It will help shine a light on some of your helpful and unhelpful daily thoughts and actions, and target the small adjustments that will be beneficial for you. Personal happiness and success in the VUCA world start with one small successful adjustment. There is no time like the present to begin.