Are You Ready for Your 3rd Act?

I'm delighted to welcome Bev Scott as my first guest blogger of 2011. Consultant, author, and coach, Bev has been one of the leading thinkers and practitioners in the field of Organization Development. A few years ago, Bev (and her collaborator Patricia Cavanaugh) started a new business venture called The 3rd Act, focused on helping people who want to take control of the third phase of their lives. Huge thanks to Bev for writing the piece below especially for this blog. I hope you enjoy the read. Bev and I would be thrilled to hear from you about your experiences making the transition into your 3rd Act. With great pleasure, here is Bev.

Ready for The 3rd Act?
By Bev Scott
For many today, retirement is passé. This is true not only because of financial need but also because the traditional notion of retirement fits with a worn out notion of aging that conceives of it primarily in terms of disengagement and decline. The news reports that “old” is being redefined as more of us are living to be over 100. A number of people over 75 are in the workforce. So, today we ask, how appropriate is retirement for a vital person with 30-40 years left to live?

At mid-life, we are living lives that most of our parents and grandparents didn’t have and, perhaps, couldn’t imagine. We are entering a period of life that is virtually uncharted, a time in which we are free from social expectations and reduced family obligations, with the freedom, resources and desire to engage in new activities with meaning and purpose. Science and medical advances have extended our years with generally better health than previous generations. This stage gives us the opportunity to turn our dreams into realities, to consider options previously considered impractical, and to prioritize how we want to spend our time. Now, it’s up to us to decide and plan for our continued vitality including paid or unpaid work.

We use the metaphor of the theater to ignite people’s imagination. Our growing up years constitute the first act, our second act includes our middle years focusing on career and family, and our third act (often for the first time) is ours to choose – we have an opportunity to create a better quality of life, leave a legacy or pursue our life-long dreams.

Studies show that if we plan for those years, traditionally called “retirement” and what we call The 3rd Act, we will be happier, healthier and less stressed. If we plan, even if the plans change, we have a direction and structure from which to make adjustments. Such planning is more than financial planning. It is a plan developed out of intention and commitment. It is a plan that includes:

- a mission to use our signature strengths to serve a larger purpose than ourselves;
- activities, interests and pursuits that keep us actively engaged with our families, communities, favored organizations as well as potential full or part-time work;
- daily routines, habits and actions that warm our hearts and bring a smile to our faces;
- and, it includes attitudes which support experiencing the present moment with interest and curiosity, looking back with contentment and gratitude and looking ahead with optimism and seeing its potential.

We have developed a website as a resource to support planning for the 3rd act with a monthly newsletter/blog, links and recommendations. We recently posted a new 3rd Act E-Workbook to help individuals design and plan their 3rd acts.

We would love to hear from you about your experience and your thoughts about The 3rd Act.

About Bev
Bev Scott has served as an internal organization and management consultant, taught organizational psychology and established an external consulting practice. She recently completed the second edition of Consulting on the Inside co-authored with Kim Barnes. She is the founder and creator of The 3rd Act whose mission is to support positive aging. Bev is currently in her own 3rd act and has enjoyed creating and writing the script.

Bev can be reached at:

Posted by Terrence Seamon on Tuesday February 22, 2011.


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