Midlife marks the beginning of what is known as “Third Age”. Third Age is an emerging life stage, running roughly from ages 50 to 75, made possible by our longer life expectancy. In essence it grants us a life bonus of 30 years not available to previous generations. Rich in possibilities and potential, it involves the creating of new roles and identity, a search for new meaning and profound change.
Third Age can be a time of renewal and transformation if we regard it as an opportunity as well as a challenge. Its opportunity lies in seeing our life as full of possibility, as a process of continual and surprising unfolding—building on our past, envisioning our future and living a more fulfilling present—and in knowing that we can make decisions geared to regeneration and fulfillment.
Its challenge lies in its uniqueness. Third Age provides an unprecedented opportunity with few maps of how to get there. It challenges our “response-ability” – to respond to our life circumstance and to find fulfilling ways to contribute our gifts, talents, experience and wisdom in ways that matter to us.
Third Age requires us to make those daily choices which help us to co-create, along with the people and circumstances of our life situation, the kind of living we want to claim for ourselves in the second half of life.
… Third Age, then, as a major life phase actually begins whenever the opinions and achievements of the external world become less important and we begin to ask questions about what it all means, what really matters to us and how we want to be more mindful and intentional about how we choose to live and work. It involves a major shift for many of us from living according to the expectations of others to living even more authentically, from the inside out.
In Third Age our focus shifts to an internal sense of, and a desire for, personal fulfillment. External achievements and successes such as status, position, and income no longer motivate us as they once did. The opinions and achievements of the external world become less important.
We may experience a “midlife crisis” of sorts where we begin to consider, “Is this all there is?” “What else is there for me?” “What really, truly matters to me?” However, going more deeply into this questioning process, we can shift from living according to the expectations of others to living even more authentically from the inside out. That requires the courage to ask ourselves questions like these:
- “How can I celebrate and enjoy living my life?”
- “What are my passions and how can I let them lead me into my future?”
- “How might I change my work into doing what I enjoy with people I care about?”
- “Where can I make my most meaningful contribution?”
- “How can I make the most of my Third Age so that my Fourth Age is truly a completion of my fulfilling and meaningful life?”
To paraphrase Thoreau, an examined life is a life worth living. And choices that arise from that examination lead us not only to survive but to fully thrive as we grow into the wisdom and fulfillment of that exploration.
See on root5systemics.com