The Third Age?

The Third Age?

A few weekends ago, my colleague and I hosted a unique retreat on beautiful, tranquil Salt Spring Island in British Columbia, Canada.  With us, was a dynamic group of women who are all experiencing the ‘Third Age’ formerly known as retirement.  The aim was for each participant to reinvent her ‘retirement’ and generate an action plan to live intentionally, with purpose and meaning while transitioning from full time paid work.  This is a particularly relevant focus for the large demographic of baby boomer women who have dedicated much of their adult lives to a professional career or vocation. 

So what is the Third Age? .  Peter Laslett (1915-2001), a British historian first described the Third Age in his positive theory of aging.   There must be a First and Second Age, so let’s start at the very beginning…a very good place to start (sing with me).

  • The First Age – Preparation: is as a period of learning, discovering and acquiring knowledge and skills to support the maturity and independence necessary for the next Age.
  • The Second Age-Achievement: is a time when our place in the adult world is realized and we seek security, status, identities, and other external markers of achievement.  We form new identities and social roles that may include creating a family, professional work, community involvement and global pursuits.   We gain a sense of recognition or ‘success’. 
  • The Third Age - Fulfillment: It is a time of significant transition and possibly transformation. This is a time in life where our journey turns more inwards.  We begin to reclaim interests that may have been neglected or lost along the way, declutter physical, emotional and psychological baggage, heal old wounds and become more balanced as individuals. During the Third Age, it is our time to dig deep and cultivate a ‘truer self’ of mind, body and spirit.  It is a time to be intentional with choices and live a life in tune with how we want to contribute and live to our fullest potential.  Validation from external sources matters less than the journey inwards.  The focus of the Third Age begins when opinions and achievements of the external world become less important. We begin to question anew what it all means and make intentional and conscious choices to live and work in fulfilling ways. 
a lifetime
of pushing pen
how do I smell the roses . . .
     — Madhuri Pillai

How many years each of us will have on this earth is an unknown. We don’t know if we will make it to the Third Age or have 30+ years in this phase of life.  Despite this uncertainty, given current statistics on life expectancy, as Third Agers we begin to examine what our last phase on earth may look like. For planning purposes it can be helpful to think of our Third Age as likely having three phases: Go-Go, Go Slow and No-Go.  In the Go-Go phase, a significant transition occurs that catapults us into preparing both financial and non-financial aspects of life.  While financial is top of mind for most Third Agers, the retreat focused on the non-financial aspects, including finding purpose, staying physically and emotionally healthy, reinventing ‘work’, connecting with social networks and visioning the next 1-5 years.  At the retreat, we engaged in a holistic and transformative learning process that integrated a mix of activities, learning, connecting, sharing and dialogue to find purpose and intention to develop action plans.  The environment at enso Beach House and Forest  is conducive to this process, and coupled with a fantastic group of women, participants left the retreat with new friends and connections and felt refueled, recharged and reinvented.

"This workshop came at a good time for me as I begin my ‘post-paid-employment’ journey. The beautiful location and facilities, the skillful co-facilitation, and diversity of activities plus the opportunity to work intensely with a group of other women all came together to provide a space for deep reflection, sharing of wisdom, reframing of problems into opportunities, and making of action plans."

Shauna B.  University Professor, Poet, Artist

Join us for the next “A Shade More…Enlightened”. October 12-14, 2018. Register here.

Dori Howard1 Comment