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What Do I Want My Third Act To Be? - by Kathryn Lorenzen

My dad was the pure embodiment of “I work, therefore I am.” Far from being a Type A, he brought pure joy to work, and he equally enjoyed his leisure time. Always an early riser, he was usually off to his job (an engineer in industrial products) before 7:30am, and we kids were always aware of how hard he worked for his company and his customers.

He was not one to count the days until retirement, happy to keep working. In his late 60s, his employer of many years let him go with no notice. We wondered

how he would spend his time, but we needn’t have. Within weeks, a competitor got wind of his availability and was eager to have his expertise as a mentor to their younger staff. Dad seized the chance to structure his own part-time arrangement, allowing time to travel with Mom and also to pursue his passions in woodworking and birding. Mom worked in her own zone of genius, serving well into her 80s in Fair Housing, election administration, and county resources for community services.

I was so fortunate to have them as role models for a happy and fulfilling Third Act (what some call their pursuits in retirement or post-career), and many of us know so many more in our own lives and the world at large.

These days I receive quite a few questions and emails from those who are wondering about how to create their own Third Act in retirement, more than ever before in my coaching career. Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg and I are embracing this in our programming for Your Right Livelihood, as making meaning is relevant for both our Second and Third Acts in our lives. Finding our true work can be a fresh challenge for those deciding what “retirement” means to them.

There are observable patterns in all of our histories that can guide us. Whether you’re approaching retirement or still in your Second Act (prime-time career, but wondering if you’re in your right work), here are some questions you can ask to expand your thinking:

  • What kinds of work – whether traditional or non-traditional, paid or unpaid – have been most deeply satisfying to me and why? Do I want more of that, or is there closure?

  • What are any deferred or “secret” passions or ambitions I have? Even if I tell myself it’s crazy, what’s undone that I really want to do?

  • What have I contributed or provided to others that they have most valued? Is there anything I want now to share, provide, perform, or teach?

  • What have I created that has given pleasure or meaning to others? Is there anything I haven’t created that is calling to me now?

  • What have I not learned yet that I would like to delve into now?

  • What do I want my life to look like now? How would I describe it?

Knowing that it can be rewarding to explore these questions in a group of others on a similar journey, Caryn and I are offering free Discovery Calls to talk about the possibilities, plus a small group coaching experience, "Will Create for Love and Money," on the evening of Sun., Feb. 5. If that interests you, please contact us through the link on the homepage of our website,

Just as the playwright mindfully crafts their Third Act, we each hold the ability to bring our Third Act into being as its own chapter. Bravo!

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