How often do you think about creating your third act? If you are my age, days ago turning 76, you might think about it more often than not. You’re comfortable now, and yet, you somehow feel that there will be a few adjustments or changes in your future.
After all, this is your third act, and you want to roll with new experiences. Even though not all changes will be perfect, or even desired, you can expect they will be exciting and full of surprises.
Almost daily, I go over several ideas about how I want the next five or 10 years to evolve. I’m unsure about how these decisions, intentions, and goals will play out, or how they will affect the next 20 years of my life, but I’m clear there will be no huge changes, no abrupt entrances or exits from my present life.
No matter the outcome, I will be pursuing my passions – writing, practicing yoga, and dancing. My passions are the guarantee that I will have a fulfilling future.
What’s in a Story’s Third Act?
I was reading over my writing notes the other day on writing the second act in a novel, and I thought the ideas would be appropriate for analyzing a boomer’s third act.
After all, in every decade of your life, you contemplate the essence of your truth, and, perhaps, ruminate about the existential status of who you are.
Writing a story or a novel is essentially revealing a character’s life as it is lived. If you were a character in a novel, the author would create your arc beginning in the first act (who are you, what do you want, what is your conflict).
Then the author moves into the second act (attempting to solve your major problem(s) related to conflict and characters), and, finally, in the third act, the author resolves the conflict as the character moves toward resolution.
Your Third Act
When you enter your 60s – the boomer years – you are ready to retire and move on with the plans that have captivated your imagination. Freedom lies ahead of you. Creative dreams emerge.
All the planning and proposed activities (plots) stir up your emotions as well. Important events and activities will happen as you cross the threshold. Maybe unforeseen problems will emerge.
What Awaits You?
What awaits you? Grandparenting, or the changing dynamics with your adult children. You might hear a calling to take a risk or do something that seems incongruous with your first and second acts, or encounter adventures that seem contrary to how you are accustomed to living your life.
The following are five steps that will be helpful in structuring your fulfilling future.
Keep Your Passions Close
In a world full of distraction, you probably bounce from pillar to post. With a barrage of daily news and social media, you could go mad. If your focus is constantly diverted, how do you hang on to all that you cherish in life?
It takes clear thought to wake up every day with an intention to pursue one of your passions and begin the day with focus and joy. This is a discipline that keeps loneliness at bay, tackles a personal need, or integrates you with your community.
Meditate: Give Yourself Time and Space
No good decision is made quickly. Sometimes, it feels as if the deciding is taking place in the moment: On the spot, you plan to travel to Africa. But, in truth, that decision is made over weeks, or months, or even years, without awareness of it in real time.
Meditation, the idea that you are rooting yourself in the present, fosters consciousness and creates distance at the same time. You let your thoughts go in meditation – you watch them go by like clouds. Your ideas and plans will return at another time with clarity, which lends credence to your decisions.
Be Aware of Your Most Basic Personal and Financial Needs
A rule of thumb is to take stock of your most basic personal and financial needs once a year. How else will you understand where you are in the development of your most fulfilling future.
Keeping your personal information up to date, knowing upcoming events and activities, organizing an up-to-date calendar are good habits to maintain. This can save you countless hours of searching for necessary documents about future payments for house or car insurance or ledgers of expenses.
Keeping files related to your life correspond to how your remaining years will be consciously fulfilling.
Think About Your Legacy
A fulfilling future includes giving significant thought to your legacy. Every birthday, be aware of what you have accomplished, and what you look forward to accomplishing. It’s your future, and you alone determine how it will be meaningful and courageous.
You don’t have to ask anyone for permission because this is your life. First, put your will in order. Make a trust, if necessary, and organize life after death. The path going forward can be exhilarating and give you a sense of time and place that is surely inspirational.
Visualize Your New Life
It is an honor to grace your life with clarity; to see it in front of you on the horizon and make fulfilling commitments to the process. Visualizing the future is like extending a piece of music that will play out in beautiful tones and perfect construction.
You’ve lived long enough to know the pitfalls will be minimal and the gifts will be sweet. Seeing yourself ahead of your present life will give you courage and satisfaction. It will also make you happier and healthier, more curious, assured, and comfortable.
Acceptance and Gratitude
A boomer’s third act means something different to everyone. Yet, there are two constants that will give you a perfectly fulfilling life: Acceptance and Gratitude.
By accepting your life as it moves forward, you confer respect and acquiesce to its unique character, much like a character in a novel whose arc unfolds during the story.
Giving daily gratitude for the life you are living and sharing with others is the extension of your inspiration and dedication to a life well lived. Everyone can have a perfectly perfect future.