Thoughts and such like.....
The Third Act allows individuals time and space to reflect on what their ideal third act will be. The four pillars discussed in earlier posts, mental, physical, spiritual and financial health come together to give a holistic 360 overview of where you have come from and where you want to go in the next 25 - 30 years.
In our second Act, we planned and developed a vision for what we wanted our future to look like, we were aided in this process by family and teachers who directed and supported our journey. In our Third Act the process is much more internal, rather than being shaped by others, our Third Act is shaped by us, through internal work and discovery. What are the relationships and activities that are meaningful for us as we move out of the workforce and into a different life? And, what are the personal practices and habits we want to embrace or enhance, how will we incorporate them into this new life? As the Economist points out so well in this article, 'ageing is a graduation process which people experience in different ways. While some may feel old at 65, nowadays most do not'. (https://www.economist.com/blogs/economist-explains/2017/07/economist-explains-7?fsrc=scn/tw/te/bl/ed).
The Economist continues to state that governments and organizations around the World 'still treat 65 as a cliff's edge beyond which people can be regarded as "old"; inactive, and an economic burden'. Yet, there are very few people I know who one would regard as 'useless', at 65 or even 75. The argument for extending work to 70+ is growing, and yet some individuals do not want to continue in a job they don't like beyond the accepted retirement age. What we are seeing is that these individuals chose to leave their employment of many years and channel their energy into their own business. Inc.com reports that 'people over 50 are the country's most active entrepreneurs'.
Many argue that a gradual transition from full time work to non-work is most helpful and healthier for individuals and that companies need to consider how they can allow their staff to tailor 'retirement' plans to individual needs. This type of graduation makes sense for both individuals and for the companies they leave - the loss of corporate intelligence when people leave is a challenge that many companies face, a challenge that may only grow as this growing group of baby boomers leave the workplace. An opportunity is there for mentorship and training programs run by transitioning leaders to pass on their corporate knowledge to new leaders coming into the workplace. Companies could also find that they can hold onto key employees longer by developing a new type of corporate benefit in supporting transition coaching alongside mentorship and special project management.
Interestingly studies are showing that full time retirement can be bad for your health! In the UK, the Institute of Economic Affairs found that retirement increases the chance of suffering clinical depression by around 40%, and of having at least one diagnosed physical illness by 60 percent.
What the Third Act program advocates is planning for this next phase of life prior to leaving full time employment. The program creates transitional structures to support people as they move from one act to the other. It begins with looking at where each of us are in our transition journey and what we need to do to move forward. The second phase of the program provides space for participants to tell their story of where they came from. How did the nature and nurture form who they are? (nature being what you were born with, nurture being what you were born into). And how does that continue to influence decisions made today.
Phase three engages participants in the right hemisphere world of creativity and imagination, meeting their future selves, five years out. Where are they now? What are they doing? What steps did they take to get there? What message do they have for their current self? And, finally in phase four, participants translate their experience into the left-hemisphere world of planning and organization by creating a structural tension between where they are now and where they want to be. This provides the energy to activate the practical steps they need to take in order to move forward.
“The third age is not worth living if you are not acting in it” Charles Handy
Third Act planning gives us the opportunity to live a 'Third Act, rather than just a third age'. If you wish to learn more about the Third Act program in North America contact me, firstname.lastname@example.org and in Europe Edward@thethirdact.ie
Maeve O'Byrne's Blog