What Does a Third Act Look Like to You? Retirement?

Retirement. What does that word mean to you? Old or wise, laid back or charging ahead? Playing endless rounds of golf or attending endless board meetings?

Retirement has certainly been redefined; we’re working well beyond sixty-five. All we have to do is look to the Supreme Court as a prime example. According to Bloomberg, in an article by David Ingold, the projected age when a justice will leave the Supreme Court is now about eighty-three. That’s a ten-year increase from the 1950s. Wow, that’s ten additional years of being relevant and contributing to the decisions of our country’s most important issues.

Okay, I get it. Not many of you have an appointment for life—or do you? I think it depends on how you look at it. Have you had a lifetime of helping and mentoring, or a passion for an area of the law, or maybe volunteering to make life better for others?

As a Lawyer what do you want your third act to be? Here are ten questions to help you create your future, whether you’re 50 or 70.

Creating goals and strategy for your third act helps you set your course, articulate your commitments, and fosters a sense of fulfillment. Here are ten that you might consider:

  1. What has made you happy over the years: a new challenge, interesting work, money, making a contribution to society, etc.?
  2. What part of your life makes you happy today: freedom, flexibility, being close to people you love, feeling productive, being relevant, etc.?
  3. How can you stay relevant in today’s world: improve your technology skills, understand and work with younger people, owning the skills and wisdom you have to contribute, etc.?
  4. How can you manage your finances better in order to give you flexibility in your third act?
  5. Do you want to earn an income, volunteer or both?
  6. What are you passionate about and what have you longed to have time to do?
  7. Lawyers are generally life long learners, so what’s next on your Learn-To-Do list: another language, to play the piano, a new area of the law, how to apply your private sector knowledge to public agency work etc.?
  8. What have been your most proud moments and what made you feel so proud?
  9. What fuels you with energy, enthusiasm and joy?
  10. How can you take care of yourself so that you can continue a fulfilling life: lose weight, stop smoking, take vitamins, get more sleep, etc.?

Here are four ideas to keep in mind when exploring your third act goals:

1. Think Less, Act More! Don’t over think it. Try something, see how it goes, make adjustments and try again. Step outside your comfort zone. What do you have to lose—try it!

2. Say Yes! Be open-minded to the possibilities. Don’t bring old negative thinking to this party. The world is changing at supersonic speed; embrace it. When we long for the past we stay in the past. Bring your wisdom, experience and knowledge to every situation in an open-minded, flexible way. I spoke to a 67-year-old lawyer who is a former State Judge, mediator and private practice lawyer who took an intern position for a Federal Judge for a year at the age of 65. He loved the comradery and the fulfillment of doing significant work. The Federal Judge loved having someone with his experience, work ethic and dependability.

3. Identify What Makes You Happy. Is it a sense of fulfillment, giving back, growing and learning, contributing your knowledge and experience or making an impact, just to name a few? When you can get to the core of what makes you happy you will recognize it more easily when it crosses your path? I was a crazy devoted fan of the series West Wing. I LOVED it! After about the fourth season I thought—Why do I love this show so much? And I realized that the characters were smart, passionate and driven and I wanted to be around smart, passionate driven people. That is why I find coaching lawyers so fulfilling.

I believe in planning and having a strategy. My grandfather lived until the age of 102, so I just might have longevity in my genes. So, I’m committed to taking care of myself, staying relevant, and continue being tenacious. I ask you… What are you willing to commit to in order to have a fulfilling third act? Ponder the questions and explore possibilities—our third act can be the best of all because we are older and wiser!

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