Planning Life’s Third Act

If you are the proactive type, you probably spent some time with a financial planner thinking about the financial aspects of retirement. You built up your nest egg and maybe even put an estate plan in place. But, have you planned for the non-financial aspects of retirement?

For many of us, simply getting to the point where we have the luxury to retire is the end goal. However, we often overlook what happens next. What will the last third of life, your Third Act, look like?

Have you spent any time envisioning your Third Act? What are your goals and aspirations for the next 20-30 years? How will you stay healthy and out of the hospital so you can accomplish those goals?

When kids move out of the house and life-long careers draw to a close, we are confronted with an exciting, albeit scary, new phase of life. Life’s Third Act has been described as a developmental stage, much like adolescence or middle-age. It is a wonderful opportunity to keep growing and achieving the life we want.

However, this life transition is not easy or automatic. There are challenges that need to be acknowledged and mentally prepared for. For example, letting go of our work identity and the purpose that comes with career and family is not easy. It is common to lose sense of purpose and feel less relevant in retirement. The lack of contact with colleagues and family can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness. But a good antidote to this darker side of retirement is to keep dreaming and feeding our spirit.

Do you want to run a marathon or travel around the world? Do you plan to age-in-place or move into a retirement community? Are you planning an encore career? Maybe you want to start a part-time consulting business or pursue volunteer activities. Do you feel called to mentor the younger generation or to contribute to your religious community? Or do you need to feed your creativity through art or music? Whatever your passion, finding a new sense of purpose will ease your transition through this next amazing phase of life.

Plan for success. How will you replace your work or care taking identity? How will you stay socially connected? How will you establish a healthy, active lifestyle to prevent disease and avoid long-term care?

Plan for difficult conversations with family as well. When it comes to our retirement years, there are many taboo topics. Most of us avoid talking about things like money, sex, religion, mental health and end-of life wishes. But avoiding these topics can weight heavy on us and lead to unnecessary stress and emotional burden. It can also have unintended consequences on our family’s well-being.

For every hour spent on the financial aspects of retirement, a good rule of thumb is to spend an equal amount of time on the non-financial aspects of retirement. A wellness coach with expertise in healthy aging can assist with this challenging, but rewarding, developmental phase of life. Keep aspiring and growing your spirit.

Tell us what you plan to accomplish in your Third Act.

About Rachael Van Pelt

I am a Mom, Wife, Gero-scientist, and Healthy Aging Coach who is passionate about helping people create and live their best Third Act through healthy lifestyle and disease prevention.

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