Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Flourishing’

We have been experiencing a remarkable fall-summer with daily temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius. It feels like the summer we did not have in July and August and while others complain about the heat and humidity I find myself savoring the experience.

Early this morning I stepped outside into the warmth of another day, breathed in the air, sighed and blessed the day. I proceeded to walk the labyrinth, newly weeded and pampered before the upcoming labyrinth walk this weekend. As I stepped, attempting to be mindful with the placement of my feet, I considered those in other locations and lands who are less fortunate than me . I prayed for them and I appreciated the abundance surrounding me.

I have often wondered why was I born in the time and in this place, in this country and among these people. And while there have been a few trying times, life for the most part has been really good to me. Do you ever ask yourself these questions?

I have learned that a vital part of the Third Act is to conduct a life review. This is more of a process than a specific exercise. Life review encourages you to go back over the various phases of your life and to highlight the times in your life when you felt accomplished, engaged, curious and fulfilled. While this may be associated with achievements, I would suggest that achievements are more ego based where accomplishment and engagement are more heart based.

In other words, what were those times in your life when you felt ‘lit up’?

Taking the time to look at these events is an important part of forming your Third Act Plan. This is the time in your life when you have fewer obligations and more freedom to choose. (Yes you might be supporting aging parents as we are, or children who still live at home for whatever reason and, I suggest, you still get to choose.)

Life Review is designed to be an uplifting exercise. You can take it in the other direction if you wish and focus on your regrets. I suggest that this may not be useful as this does not serve you in moving forward.

Two Approaches
1) Draw a Life Map

Drawing your Life Map is a simple process whereby your record your life within specific time frames, example ages 0 through 10, 10 through 20, and so on and from your recollection indicate what happened during those years. Using the guidelines above, keeping your focus on accomplishments, what engaged you, what made you curious and so on, will help you focus on what important. Record things that were both small and great as you do not know where the true gems live.

For example: when I was quite young, I loved to play with dolls. I would line them up in a home-made tent and this became my classroom. I would teach them. This memory became very important to me when I felt disconnected from my career choice as a physiotherapist. I knew I was a teacher and this was one of the things that truly lit me up. It still does. Two days ago, I had the opportunity to teach a morning workshop at Tri-County Literacy. So much fun!

2) Write your Stories
A second strategy is to take three of the accomplishments you noted during your Life Review and write about them. Describe the event, what happened, how you felt. Returning to the feeling of the event is critical as this is where inspiration is born. Notice how you re-connect with these feelings as you re-experience the event.

Ask yourself:

  • is there anything left undone about this experience or time in my life?
  • what does this experience mean in the context of what I want to experience in my Third Act?
  • What new dreams/possibilities does this event conjure up?
  • What did I start that feels incomplete?
  • Where did I sparkle? Where would I like to shine again?

Finally, once you have drawn your Life Map and recorded your stories, share them. Speaking about them is as powerful as recording them and adds new energy and understanding in the telling. It is part of your history and as such, might be best shared with close friends or family.

Remember, you are mining for information, information that will infuse your decisions about what’s next and for an inspired Third Act.

Until next time
Betty

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

The Third Act of Life is a newer term in the ‘retirement landscape’ referring to those years 60 to 90. In re-framing the idea of retirement, the Third Act examines the opportunities that those falling in this age group have to continue to grow, learn, serve and contribute to society. The notion of flourishing, drawn from the Positive Psychology literature, turns the commonly held beliefs of retirement on its heels and examines the strategies and tools by which ‘Third Acters’ can lead a rich and meaningful life beyond the expiration date of their careers.

Although we have arrived in 2016, with an exponential growth in the number of individuals reaching the Third Act, we are still not tapping into this unlimited resource effectively. Retirement programs offered by organizations continue to focus on two consistent themes: financial planning and legal concerns. And while there is no argument that this focus offers important information to retirees, this approach fails to address other key concerns:

  • What will I do once I step away from my job/career?
  • What will be my identity?
  • What will engage me?
  • Will I still be useful to society?
  • Who will be my tribe?
  • Who will I be without this definition of self?

It is fair to say that the exploration of these questions is not the organization’s business or concern but is it really true? From where I sit, many of us are clinging onto our ‘jobs’ because we cannot see the future. In my case this is not so serious. I am self-employed. This is not the case however, where senior employees may be blocking the entry of the next generation. Let me be clear, this is not to suggest that these senior employees are no longer contributing, it simply beckons these question:

  1. If these employees had a clearer sense of what life could look like beyond their current employment, would they choose to stay?
  2. What if they were offered a road map for navigating the waters for one of life’s most significant transitions?
  3. What if they were offered the tools to assess how they can continue to contribute and forge a path filled with purpose and meaning?
  4. What would be the benefits to the organization and the younger generations as well?

This is where ‘Flourishing in the Third Act’ intersects with life, a program dedicated to exploring the waters of transition, where self-evaluation and self-discovery are central tenets, and where the goal is to re-discover self and create a vision for what can be some of the most productive years of one’s life.

Society forgets all too quickly that many of our favorite authors, artists, inventors and scientists made their most significant contributions during their Third Act. A few examples:

  • Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of Little House on the Prairie published her first book at age 64
  • Benjamin Franklin signed the Declaration of Independence at age 70
  • Nelson Mandala became president of South Africa at age 76
  • At age 69 Mother Theresa won the Nobel Peace Prize
  • Forced to retire at age 70, Peter Mark Roget complied the Roget’s Thesaurus at age 73
  • Gandhi began his quest for Indian independence at age 61
  • Dames Maggie Smith and Judy Dench have picked up more awards and accolades in their third act then in their early careers
  • Acclaimed artist Grandma Moses began painting at the age of 76

The list goes on.

It is my belief that those of us approaching or currently living the Third Act need not sell ourselves short. This is the time in our life when we can take inventory, review our contributions and wonder what’s next. We do not fundamentally change; life circumstances do. We have the capacity to learn and to take all of life’s lessons and apply these in new ways.

As I sit with this concept of Flourishing in the Third Act, reflecting on the possibilities that lie ahead, I see a landscape of vast opportunity. I wonder how can I sharpen the focus on that vision. This is where I, and I imagine others, need some structure, some tools for us to enhance our self-awareness and give direction to what’s next.

What immediately comes to mind is to simply remember that everything I have learned up to now is carried forward. I have vast resources available to me including:

  • My accrued wisdom and knowledge
  • My strengths
  • My work experiences
  • My values
  • My talents and gifts
  • My education

Hopefully all of these resources can be married with curiosity and wonder and a desire to understand in what other ways can I apply these various aspects of me to new opportunities.

Certainly curiosity is at the heart of flourishing. There will be those who simply want to retire, and by this I mean dis-engage, disappear, or take their position on the couch. And it is also my belief that this does not define most of us.

So here’s to curiosity and exploring all of those resources we have!

Read Full Post »

In preparing for the Third Act, an easy default position is to fill our heads with facts, expose myths and do whatever it takes to reassure our minds that everything will be just fine. Of course this approach neglects what my heart may be saying about this journey.

In life you can choose many roads, those frequently traveled and those less so. The journey into and through the Third Act of life, undoubtedly needs to be a healthy balance between understanding and feeling, a balance between head and heart. I say this as in my own experience, no matter how much ‘self-discovery’ I engage in, no matter how much I reassure myself that I still have a great deal to offer the world and others, I am still experiencing the myriad of feelings that go with simply growing older.

I have always been a very purposeful and goal-oriented individual. This has served me well, whether I was working a physiotherapist, health care manager or educator. Goals have been the back bone of my life. I suspect I am not alone.

Today, I still love the idea of purpose. I find myself more curious about how that purpose might manifest and indeed, I feel less inclined to be quite as goal obsessed, in fact, I find myself being intentional instead. Something you might also consider.

One of the perks of the Third Act is less urgency. You have the opportunity to explore and discover, to be curious about what’s next and how this might manifest. It is healthy to have a sense of what is important to you and what lights you up – that important sense of purpose AND rather than launching into a plan, why not relax, breath and wonder what this might look like.

Just for clarity, intention, by my definition, means opening up possibility. Rather than specific goals, attached to specific outcomes and time frames, I recommend simply “attracting all that is in your highest good” or “attracting what serves your purpose”. Then exercise your curiosity and pay attention to what begins to show up.

And then there is the whole issue of choice. While I am not fully ‘retired’, I have chosen to work differently. Three words keep coming up: Freedom, Flexibility and Fun. You would think that these would be natural and easy to adapt to. Right! Not so easy, especially for those goal-oriented, list-making, scheduled individuals like myself. So I am sliding into this choice, gradually. It’s all about choice I remind myself.

 

Spreading Your Wings

Spreading Your Wings

One of my Third Act choices has been a return to painting. In my late teens and twenties, I studied art and various mediums, only to leave it behind for three decades. I can’t explain why that happened. Life I suppose. Then four years ago, two of my coaching clients opened a new studio and the next thing I knew I was taking one of their courses – a happy accident (or perhaps a significant SIGN!).

As I write this I am preparing for my fist Art Exhibit (yes, this was designed to give me a goal!). Painting, like life, is a process. The feeling of paint on a brush and then the movement across the canvas, how a slight flick of the wrist can leave an image that is magical. Testing myself in both abstract and realistic forms and with each step learning more about the important triad of brush, paint and canvas.

And isn’t that what you are doing in the Third Act, painting a new life, body mind and spirit. There will be times when the paint goes on easily and the image simply grows on the canvas just as there will be times when the paint gets muddy and you have to start again. The important thing to remember is that you have the freedom to choose what you will paint. You can exercise flexibility in how you approach your creation and most importantly in you can have fun because in the end, the choices you are making are for YOU!

With this ramble today, and it is that, I simply encourage you to engage your head and your heart for your Third Act journey. As I am so often reminded, I do not want to approach the end of life with regrets, nor I suspect do you. Listen to your heart and begin to explore what is truly meaningful to YOU. Set an intention and explore the possibilities regarding which path might lead you to where you want to land. Enjoy the journey – enjoy your freedom to choose and spread your wings.

Read Full Post »

How do we change or influence the ageist views of society, especially our youth? This past weekend I viewed a video on Facebook created by AARP (American Assoc. of Retired People) in which millennials were interviewed. When asked what age defined old the majority responded late 4o’s or 50’s. The interviewers went on to ask the subjects to perform certain tasks the way they thought an older person would. The results were interesting. Ah yes, perception! Then they young’un’s were introduced to some seniors, who for the most part outperformed them on certain tasks as they were invited to teach one another. The change in perception was amazing and when re-interviewed about their attitudes and thoughts about aging, it was evident the seniors had an impact.

I was left with a personal ‘WOW!’; is that what they really think. Have young people become so distanced from elders, their parents and grandparents, that they really view us as ‘incapacitated’? We have some work to do!

And, what are we as ‘Third Acters’ believing. Have we bought into the same ageist philosophy which suggests that retirement is a near death experience?

Through the years I have coached many folks who are retired and my sense is that they have lost their way. They retire with the belief that golfing will occupy their time; or perhaps volunteering, or reading, sewing, knitting, woodwork…..the list goes on. They grow disenchanted because they become bored or they realize that the activities which they are pursuing are not engaging. They did not understand, or they forgot, that the Third Act is the opportunity for a New Beginning and that the new beginning requires some thought and reflection and definition.

In his book Transitions, William Bridges examined the human side of change. In his model, change or transitions evoke three stages: Endings, Neutral Zone and New Beginnings. The model is an excellent beginning to approaching the Third Act, specifically when you are leaving a job behind. Endings is that opportunity to assess, and if you will, mourn, the loss. When you step away from a job or profession, you shift your identity; you lose your tribe, those whom you have worked with; you give up your routines and habits. While you may be looking forward to all of these things, many people approach the Third Act with little or no consideration regarding what it will mean everyday. Many have never considered or planned for the empty hours.

While this sounds negative, perhaps a little daunting, the upside is the opportunity for New Beginnings, the re-invention of self. My experience with coaching clients has been that they forget that they have choice on their side and that there are many things they do not forfeit by retiring: the essence of who you are, your strengths, your values, your accrued wisdom and experience and so much more. These are the important building blocks for what’s next.

The there is the magical time between these two stages – the Neutral Zone. This is the fallow field, the time to release the past, reflect, dream, consider and play with possibility. It is the time to dabble and experiment, to question and to research. Clearly it involves more being than doing. And this is the time where flourishing begins to be defined and where the work begins in  defining the New Beginning.

I have had my own journey with transitions through the years, first when I left health care almost 20 years ago to begin roadSIGNS, and then most recently as I begin to consider my plans for My THIRD ACT. The journey I am developing for Third Acters is the one I am experiencing and supported by my previous work and Positive Psychology. These are exciting times. For those of you sharing the journey with me – hop on board. The best is yet to come.

Read Full Post »

My absence from the roadSIGNS Coach blog duly noted, I am now here to say that I am officially back. This last year has been an informative one:

  • I turned 65, that magical age where we are told that retirement is an option
  • I experienced my first ‘mid-life’ crisis – it seems that I did not think turning 65 would mean anything and it did!
  • I enjoyed one of the busiest years on record with our business and subsequently decided that I no longer needed or wanted to work with that same level of intensity
  • I completed my Certificate in Positive Psychology, an intense program offered through the winter
  • and I was introduced to the concept of the Third Act, the final decades of life beginning at age 60.

It is this business of the Third Act that has really captured my attention. In her amazing TedTalk on the topic in December 2011, Jane Fonda stated that we need a new metaphor for aging in our society, one which considers aging as a staircase — the upward ascension of the human spirit, bringing us into wisdom, wholeness and authenticity. Age not at all as pathology; age as potential.

In a society with such a strong youth orientation, it is easy for those of us approaching or beyond 60 to wonder what belongs to us. And yet when I look inward, when I consider my future, I am aware that I want to do so with gusto, perhaps even a bit of bravado. I am struck by how much desire I have to learn, develop and pursue. I am hungry for meaning and a desire to continue to be of service and I am convinced that I am not alone.

As a generation, those of us 60 years plus, are physiologically younger than any generation before us. We have the potential to live 3-4 more decades or more. While we may see some decline in our health, this decline does not have to apply to our spirit. We are in charge of that just as we are in charge of our curiosity, our passion, our attitudes and beliefs. As Fonda suggests:

Entropy means that everything in the world, everything, is in a state of decline and decay, the arch. 
There’s only one exception to this universal law, and that is the human spirit, 
which can continue to evolve upwards — the staircase — bringing us into wholeness, authenticity and wisdom.

Perhaps the Third Act is really our time, a time to FLOURISH, a time to expand on those things that escaped us in our youth, a time to exercise our curiosity and be active learners, a time to finish what was left undone.

I invite you to join me in this conversation as I pursue Flourishing in the Third Act.

Using the principles of Positive Psychology,  I intend to carve out a course for us to follow, one which will allow us to become re-acquainted with the many aspects of who we are and who we wish to become, one which will help to find our way into this new territory called the Third Act.

Read Full Post »