Your Third Act? Navigating Life’s Transitions

What might your third (fourth, fifth) act be?

Are you in your third, fourth, fifth act of life? Or contemplating a new one?

Jane Fonda, actress and activist, has written about her Third Act, something she began thinking about in her early sixties. The actress is now in her mid-80’s and has recently become a climate change activist and protestor. She’s written about discovering her third act in her book, “Prime Time.” She notes that people are living a third longer than previous generations so they have a new post-retirement act to follow. She notes the importance of being intentional about discovering what meaning, purpose and fulfillment will look like in that third act–what will you do to have an impact and make a contribution to the world around you post-retirement. Her most recent book is “What Can I do: The truth about climate change and how to fix it.” Just goes to show you’re never too old and it’s never too late to change direction and find new fulfilment and purpose in life!

How many times have you reinvented yourself? Changed careers? Changed direction in life? Do you feel badly about it? Or do you think it is part of your growth as a human being?

Depending on how you count, I think I must have had at least 7 or 8 acts so far. I’m approaching the typical age for someone in what Fonda calls the third act. And my most recent reinvention is becoming a social entrepreneur and starting my own business—something I’d always dreamed of doing but was too scared to do before now. So far it’s been an adventure and it’s scary–a roller coaster of ups and downs. One thing I can say is that I’m rarely bored!

I think what’s been tough about it is having to put myself all out there on the line yet again. I never do things by half measures. And of course, as someone who likes to be liked, that can be tough.

What is exhilerating about it is that I’m still learning new things about myself, new skills, and new ways of being in the world. I’m meeting new and exciting people, learning new subjects, i.e. how to start a business. And I have learnt, finally I hope, that I’m not a victim of circumstances. I am accountable for my own life and wellbeing. Ok, I still backslide sometimes if I’m honest, but it never lasts for very long. I’m learning that I’m a lot more resilient than I’ve given myself credit for in the past.

What act of life are you in? Are you thinking of reinventing yourself? What are your fears and challenges? What’s holding you back?


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