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Posts Tagged ‘Transitions’

I am back. After a hiatus from writing, accompanied by some exploration and reflection, I am exploring the possibility of pulling together a program/learning manual dedicated to Thriving in the Third Act. I always do better when I have a little structure.

In the upcoming weeks I thought I would use my blog to roll out the framework and hope that you, as my audience would offer some feedback to me. I have never written a book this way before, so bear with me. It is a new way of doing it for a new phase in life. So here is the first installment, the Forward:

Thriving in the Third Act

Forward

Tim Carroll, Artistic Director of the Shaw Theatre wrote this for the 2017 season:

“An actor friend of mine said once that all directors are either mechanics or gardeners. A mechanic solves problems so that the machine works; a gardener creates the conditions in which something can grow. Some of the most vital jobs at the Shaw require mechanics but to direct our plays, I want gardeners.”

As I read this, I could not help but reflect on how his words not only applies to plays, they applied to life. If you simply replaced the word play with the Third Act, would the same sentiment not also apply. You can be mechanical in your approach to the Third Act. You can address whatever issues you have identified with a mechanistic approach of ‘let’s fix it’, as if life were a machine that has simply broken down. In fact, this has been in my view, the way in which retirement planning has been approached, a plan which deals dominantly with finances and the practical aspects of the Third Act years.

Or, you can decide to be gardeners and create the conditions for your Third Act whereby you can thrive. And what does thriving mean: feeling curious and engaged, exploring how you might use your gifts, talents and experience differently, being of service both to yourself and others and more.

Carroll went on to say that gardening in theatre work means “a process in which rehearsals are playful and exploratory. It means we don’t try to nail down the ‘right’ version of a scene; we play inside it and allow it to reveal itself.

Isn’t that just perfect. The Third Act is not a new job, it is simply your life’s work and experience. There is no requirement to ‘nail’ it down. The experience is designed to be softer, easier, free-flowing allowing you to ’play inside it and reveal itself ’.

I think this is perhaps the most important aspect of the Third Act, a stage in life, and if you will your ‘two-thirds life crisis’, when you transition into a new phase. It need not be governed by goals as many of you have been forced to live by during your working careers. It is most likely best expressed through intentions, the knowledge of what you want with no need to understand exactly how you will obtain this. Goals nail down the results whereas intentions allow you to live into this new phase of life and let it be revealed.

That said, what you want may not be obvious. I know that has been the case for me. In fact, the ‘do not wants’ have been much more clear at times, most of them predicated on a fear of boredom, and becoming a ‘couch potato’.

Welcome to Thriving in the Third Act, a personal self-discovery journey for ME, as I learn to transition from my career as a coach/consultant into my Third Act and one which I invite you to share.

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The spark for change is change.

From this morning’s message from the Universe, this short quote emerged. If you don’t subscribe to Messages from the Universe already, I highly recommend this – go to http://www.tut.com for your daily dose of wisdom and humor.

Change – there has been a great deal of that going around these days. Change and Transition. In my view transition is the human side of change, how we react and respond to the events around us that influence our lives. As we all know change is inevitable and there is that platitude, ‘change is the only constant‘. Curse change if you will and apparently you cannot escape it. Do you then embrace it or is that simply expecting too much?

I will admit that I am a person who seeks change. In my younger years I was plagued by boredom which resulted in me changing jobs at an alarming rate. I thought that a new venue would be more interesting even though the work with the inherent responsibilities were the same. Self-employment has been ideal for me as a result, as you get to create what you do, you can shift responsibilities around, search for new directions – you get the picture. And somewhere in there you need consistency and direction otherwise self-employment will spin out of control. Fortunately I have also been purposeful and yes, somewhat driven, which makes the changes upon me now the most challenging ones. This change is my transition into retirement.

Over the last few months I have been musing about this eventuality. The decision to release my ‘work’ responsibilities has not come lightly or easily. And, by the way I am not there yet although well on my way. As a self-employed coach, consultant, facilitator and teacher, my work has taken on many forms through the years from corporate consulting to individual coaching, from running and facilitating retreats and workshops to public speaking. I have never been bored in any of these roles because of the diversity and the variety which this approach has offered me. And trust me, I still love all of it.

So why retire or as I prefer to think of it re-tire. I have been living with a number of questions recently, the most important of which is “what is left for me to do or be in my Third Act?” I am ready for change and for new frontiers to explore. This awareness has led to my understanding that if my plate is still filled by all the activities that I have consistently been involved in, there is no room for anything new. Change sparks change. Emptying the plate creates space for something else.

When I first landed on the literature regarding the Third Act, my interested piqued by both the language and the possibility of what’s next for me, I decided that understanding this would be part of my continuing journey. The thing was, I was premature in thinking that my timing was right to dive in. After a few weeks of playing with the material and planning, I put it aside. I was acutely aware that I was not ready to pursue this. There were a few transitional steps to complete before jumping into a new arena.

In his book Transitions, William Bridges describes the first step as ENDINGS. Sounds easy! Yet endings implies letting go and I have found this to be a challenging process. First you need to make a decision to let something go. Then you need to actually do it and then you need to be in the impact of that decision which, from my experience, has been both grief and relief. First I decided that we would take on no new clients. That wasn’t so bad as we have, and continue to have, corporate clients who keep us well occupied. This was followed by decisions to stop offering weekend retreats, stop our monthly Healthy Living Cafe, and finally to stop writing my monthly newsletter. I also gave up my license to marry people and stepped down from my role as chairperson of the local arts council. These decisions took place over a two-year period, allowing me to deal with one ‘loss’ after the other. A wise decision and one I recommend for anyone, as an all or nothing approach can have a devastating effect.

Interestingly, I have led my own transition. I have made my choices when I intuitively knew it was time. There will be more decisions to make down the pike. In all, the changes have been emotional yes, and relatively easy because of the pace.

What of the person who retires from a  ‘conventional job’ where one day you are working full throttle and the next day you are not. This is a more significant shift, one which many folks are not prepared for. This is where Third Act planning can help and hence where my interest lies.

And now that I have emptied my plate from a significant amount of responsibility, the space is there for me to explore. I am now entering my CREATIVE ZONE, the second phase of Bridges’ transition model. It is not a time to fill the plate with new doings, it is a time to consider options, be curious and explore. It is a time for life review and capturing the things that ‘light me up’. It is a time to acknowledge my gifts, talents and strengths and wonder as to how these might be engaged in some new way. It feels freeing and exciting and a little scary.

Care to join me?

Until next time…..

Betty

 

 

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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.

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