It took weeks to find the time to take AARP’s shiny new and improved Life Reimagined out for a spin but I’m ready to provide an overview of what they’ve got up their sleeves with this latest redesign.
I’ll start with a disclaimer: Dr. Bill Thomas and I have both worked with Life Reimagined. Bill is one of their thought leaders and he recruited Life Reimagined to sponsor his 2014 Second Wind Tour, which I managed. That being said, ChangingAging.org has no relationship with AARP or Life Reimagined and I didn’t even know they re-launched last month until Bill asked me to check it out.
I’m happy to review Life Reimagined 2.0 because AARP is the biggest interest group representing older adults and they’ve staked a big claim with this platform. In 2013, then-AARP CEO Barry Rand framed it this way (speaking at the LR thought leaders retreat): Retirement as we know it, he said, no longer exists. The middle class is more vulnerable than at any time in recent history. If AARP doesn’t do something to empower and inspire baby boomers to seize their own destiny, Rand said, our whole country is in trouble.
That’s a tall order and I don’t expect a single web platform will provide a solution. However, LifeReimagined.org is the centerpiece of AARP’s outreach to baby boomers, so it deserves scrutiny and critical review.
So lets take a look!
“A new you, within reach.”
I like the new homepage – fewer clipart graphics and more real people behind the welcome message:
The life you’ve dreamed of having is actually very possible. To make it real doesn’t require major tasks or grand gestures. It’s about making small and simple steps to help you figure out what you really want, and then starting to make that happen.
I like incremental self-improvement. I don’t like platitudes. Much initial criticism of the original Life Reimagined platform was that it was chock full of feel-good “life reimagined” profiles featuring minor celebrities and very wealthy people. I hope to see more concrete resources and information directed at real people’s needs.
A holistic approach
Scroll down the homepage for more details. LR’s approach is based on these values:
How does it work? Simply
Simple is good.
Popular Programs from people who know
Now we get into the nuts and bolts. I just spent a half hour getting a handle on what looks like an entirely new suite of interactive programs/challenges. They’re designed by members of LR’s thought leader team and fall under these categories:
- Well Being – 1) From Inner Kill to Inner Will, 2) Embrace Your Calling, 3) The Good Life Inventory, and 4) See It and Be It
- Work – 1) Better Networking in 4 Days and 2) Job Search Boot Camp
- Relationships – 1) Zero Negativity, 2) Building a Better Together, 3) The Power of Appreciation.
There’s another section called “Learn” that I don’t have time to fully explore today. It takes you off LR to the website LearningAdvisor.com where there are over 1,200 online courses, certificate and degree programs. Looks like a partnership between Kaplan and AARP.
There’s also an “Events” section. Lots of live LR events going on around the country. I see two coming up in Seattle and may check them out in person.
Now it’s time to “Take the first step to a better you” and log in.
My old log-in doesn’t work so I’ll use the Facebook integration. There’s an intro explaining what’s behind the log-in:
- Improve your life with Programs: Our 1- to 7-day Programs help you explore your life in depth. You’ll get actionable ways to achieve and maintain change.
- Stay focused with your Dashboard — Use it to learn what your daily task is, or to browse through some of our great content.
- Small steps make a big difference — Make progress by completing quick tasks within each program. If you miss a day—no worries. You can review and complete past days later.
Next we come to the personal “dashboard”. It features a slider showcasing their nine programs for personal development. We’ll look at those next. Below, there’s a nice “What’s Happening” section featuring upcoming events in my area. I live in Seattle and it looks like Washington AARP is sponsoring a series of high profile speakers with Life Reimagined, including George Takei, Rick Steves and Chris Gardner. I’m going to check out the Rick Steves event tonight.
Below that a widget features LinkedIn discussions from the Life Reimagined group, such as “How Long Will My Job Search Take?” and “The Generational Fault Line – Quake or Tremor”. I like LinkedIn Groups a lot more than Facebook because they’re more user-driven and less jammed up with ads or hijacked by Facebook’s algorithms. I was one of the first 50 members of LR’s group and it’s now grown to over 20,000 members.
The center column has a featured article (more on that) and then repeats a section on programs and events. That seems a little redundant. The feature article “How You come Across To Others: Is your electronics etiquette ready for an update” is terrific. The author provides a comprehensive list of netiquette tips in a Q&A with Judith Kallos, author of Because Netiquette Matters.
I just spent another half hour reading recent Life Reimagined articles. Two observations – 1) the content is ALL terrific (interesting, short, topical and evergreen) and 2) it appears no one is reading any of it. I checked stories going back several months and found not a single comment and every Share button showed zero clicks. There might be a glitch on the share buttons but zero comments indicates… well, zero engagement. Not a good sign.
That sums up the overview. I love the design, layout and navigation. The site is packed with content (I killed a couple hours just browsing it) but I didn’t feel overwhelmed.
Next step is to try out their programs and let you know what I think. The process looks user-friendly – sign-up, receive daily emails outlining simple tasks or activities leading towards completion of a specific goal. I’m picky, so I might have to try a couple before I decide what to commit to.
My first impression (and first impressions matter) is that this is a substantive upgrade from LR 1.0. It looks like most of the programs are still free. I was curious not to see the signature “Calling Cards” activity, but it looks like they’ve embedded that feature into a more comprehensive program. It’s too early to pass judgement whether these resources are “directed at real people’s needs,” but I see several I’m interested in trying.
My biggest issue is how damn hard it is to carve out time to experience a site like this. Given all the competing priorities and online activities that make up my (and I’m assuming most people’s) day I actually had to make an appointment on my calendar to have a meeting with Life Reimagined.
This is the first hurdle any new online platform faces, but it’s a goliath. My previous post asking for input on the new Life Reimagined platform got lots of Tweets but zero comments, so I’m assuming our readers are just as pressed for time as I am and are not motivated to invest in yet another new online platform. Hopefully this article can provide in 5 minutes what took me a couple hours to discover, and my next posts will shed some light on the programs themselves.