What do you want to achieve?

Richard Branson smiling in front of the pool at Kasbah Tamadot
Kami White
Virgin Galactic
Richard Branson's signature
Published on 11 February 2022

I was asked a question recently that really made me stop and think: “Now that you’re at the end of your life…what do you want to achieve?” We’ll come on to the second part of the question, but let’s start with the first: “Now that you’re at the end of your life.” Hold on a minute! I feel in my prime.

Richard Branson speaking at a Virgin Unite gathering
Jack Brockway

To be clear, my inquirer meant it in the nicest possible way, in perfectly good faith, but I found myself hearing it as insensitive. It’s not the first time I’ve been asked such a thing, and it’s quite a strange feeling. I live healthily and am fitter than I have been in many decades, so this type of question makes me stop and think. Now, I’m in 71-years-old, and fully aware of it. But I put a lot of effort into my fitness, manage my diet well, try to keep a healthy balance in my life, and my parents happily both lived long into their nineties. I’ve got a lot of life left to live.

Richard Branson hiking a mountain on the 2019 Strive Challenge
Adam Slama

This brings us onto the second half of the question: what do you want to achieve? There is often lots of talk about legacy for people in the second half of their life, but I prefer to think about what there is left to achieve. I have never been a fan of looking back, and love to look forward to what is coming next.

People in later life have an enormous amount left to give, and lots they still want to achieve. You’re never too young or too old to have a good idea and to put it into action. So, to the young – and to the young at heart. It’s a new year – what do you want to achieve?