When to Start Thinking about your Third Chapter

I have had a couple of recent conversations with friends who are trying to figure out what they want to do after completing a long career in medicine. They are both a bit distraught at not knowing what they want to do. They had always had a path in life. They did well in school, a lot of school, then went on to successful, rewarding careers. Now they are coming to the end of these careers and don’t know what to do next. They are both healthy, active people used to being very busy in life.

First of all, it is never too late to pursue your dreams. You just need to figure out what they are and then start exploring how to make it happen. Of course, the sooner you start the exploration, the less stressful the transition can be. Whether you are counting down the final days on a job or just beginning to think about how “retirement” might look, you can start right now to begin designing your third chapter of life.

Most of us who are past the first and second chapters of life are not ready to go into the final chapter. The first and second chapters involved going to school, building a home and family, and striving to achieve at work. In the final chapter we go quietly into that good night.  The third chapter is when we get to focus on the present, on finding meaning and enjoyment in every day. That does take some intention and planning though.

When the third chapter begins and how we want it to go depends on each person. For me, hitting fifty was a huge milestone.  It made me ponder my mortality and realize that I wanted to have less stress in my life and enjoy each day more.  I started certification classes for coaching and began researching how to sell my veterinary clinic.  I am still working part-time as a veterinarian while I grow my coaching business. My life is more relaxed and less stressful and yet I still have very meaningful work that I enjoy.

As a Chinese proverb says: The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago, the second best time is now. The point is you need to get to planting. Nobody is going to tell you what you should do with your third chapter, nor should you want them to. You have successfully come this far in life, you can make your third chapter whatever you want. Now, what do you want?

What step can you take today to move forward? For many of us, that first step is daydreaming. Set aside some time. Go out in nature or grab a glass of wine and imagine your ideal life. Even if you know you will continue your current work for the next few years, start the process now so you can start preparing.  If you have already left your lifelong work, you probably have the time to throw yourself into this. You don’t have to have it already figured out or begin new changes immediately. Explore some, try new things, be intentional. You also don’t have to do it alone. Reach out to friends, family, or a coach and let them share in your journey.

Published by Karnia Coaching

Co-active coach focused on helping people with transitions and life fulfillment.

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