“I thought you were retired and not working any more. Why did you go back to having an office?” asked one of my friends. I recently moved my office from a comfy but large home office to a small office sub-let from a financial planning firm. It was not an easy decision to move my office from the convenience of home in cozy but spacious room with a fireplace and lots of light. Yet going to an office provides a clearer structure and separation of my work from the chores and distractions at home.
My friend’s question stimulated my thinking about work and retirement. Our program “The 3rd Act” conceptually redefines the old traditional term “retirement” which I think is out-dated for many of us in today’s world. The term retirement has often been perceived as an ending to career, challenge, growth, learning, engagement…a slowing down, settling, accepting and even disengagement from the life that has rewarded and energized us. Instead of this version of retirement, The 3rd Act promotes new choices, creating a chosen and perhaps long desired path that offers purpose, passion and engagement with activities that offer meaning and opportunity for learning and development. The 3rd Act encourages us to take advantage of the bonus from medical and nutritional advances that have extended our health and longevity 20-30 years beyond retirement age. The 3rd Act promotes the excitement and reward of commitment to a positive aging process.
The concept of The 3rd Act does not just re-define retirement; it also encompasses a new definition of “work”. For most of us our “work” in the 2nd act has been for pay. If we are lucky, we found work that also provided a sense of fulfillment in addition to paying the bills. But when we reach our 50’s or 60’s, some of us are tired of that work, the environment or the stressful pace. Some of us have also lost our work too soon and are not ready financially to have a reduced income. In all these scenarios, work is synonamous with a paycheck. The concept of the 3rd Act expands this view of work. Work is what you do at this stage of your life, that brings meaning, purpose and engagement. Work can be full or part time for pay, volunteer or for your sheer enjoyment.
I wrote a blog a while ago about my new identity as a writer. I am excited about writing an historical novel based on the lives of my grandparents. I also write blogs for The 3rd Act and I do some writing in my former professional field, most recently completing the second edition, published in March, of Consulting on the Inside. I consider writing my “work” in my 3rd Act. I write for enjoyment, meaning and purpose. I am engaged. I am learning and growing. It does not provide a paycheck.
I began this piece referencing my office move. Since the area of the house with my former cozy home office will soon be under construction, I felt the need for a space to write, to do my “work” in peace. In my new space, I am surrounded by young women in the midst of their second acts. Their youth, energy and enthusiasm are invigorating. Making the move enabled me to clean out and sort through unneeded papers, books and folders in my office. My new space is neat, organized and welcoming. I am learning about myself in the midst of another transition as I figure out how to manage my work in a new place, my commute to downtown San Francisco and my email communication without the convenience of my desk-top computer in the other room. My answer to my friend about my office move is that it reflects another scene in my 3rd Act with many new and exciting benefits.
How you have experienced transitions in your 3rd Act? How do you define your “work”?