Writers are taught that all stories must have a beginning, middle, and an end. Our lives have a similar structure; the beginning is the first 25 years, where we learn to live a “grown-up” life. The middle is the next 25 years, where we work to provide for our family and save for retirement. The end is – well, that is the new question for the 21st Century. Is the end of our life story retirement, doing nothing but lounging on a beach for the next, and last, 25 years? Is that what you see for yourself, or would you rather shoot for something more?

It is time to invent a new stage of life: The 3rd Act; The Encore; or Pre-Retirement, or “Pretirement.” It can be called by many different names, but it is all about living life intentionally, the way we want to live, without waiting for “one-day,” or “someday,” or even for “retirement,” whatever that may mean to you. And that is the key, whatever it may mean TO YOU.

Living longer means expanded choices and increased possibilities

With the stunning increase in life expectancy the developed world has benefited from in the past 40 years, our choices for living an extended, productive life have broadened dramatically. We no longer aim for 62 years on this earth, but closer to 80 years of living. Collecting Social Security checks while lying on a beach for two decades after 40 years of productive work and living will do much more than turn you into a slab of leather; it will drive you crazy, and probably lead to deep depression.

The notion that we can only have what we want, or do what we want, “someday,” or “one-day” when we retire is completely out-of-date in the 21st Century. That old model, the idea that until then we should work as hard as possible; and make and save as much money as possible; so we can retire as soon as possible from a job we hate and can’t wait to escape from, has gone the way of the vinyl records and phonographs, the rotary telephone, and VHS tapes.

It’s time to stop thinking of retirement as the “pay-off” for the struggle to get there and instead, think of it as the next, grand phase of living a productive, valuable life.

“Inventing a new stage of life is an ambitious undertaking, one of the great social innovation projects of the 21st century. Yet this aspiration will be as much about small changes as big ones.” Marc Freedman, encore.org

There are a plethora of resources available to help you figure out what to do with your own 3rd Act, Encore, or Pretirement. Here are just a few that we have found valuable:

  • Encore.org – Second Acts for the Greater Good. “Millions are already in the midst of inventing a new stage of life and work – the encore years – between the end of midlife and anything resembling old-fashioned retirement. We’re envisioning this chapter as a time when we make some of our most important contributions, for ourselves, for our world, for the well-being of future generations.”
  • FourHourWorkWeek.com – Author Timothy Ferris advocates for mini-retirements throughout our lifetime and not waiting until the end of life to experience the joys of life that we dream of. He asks great questions: “How has being “realistic” or “responsible” kept you from the life you want? How has doing what you “should” resulted in subpar experiences or regret for not having done something else? Look at what you’re currently doing and ask yourself, “What would happen if I did the opposite of the people around me? What will I sacrifice if I continue on the track for 5, 10 or 20 years?”
  • Retirement 20/20.com – Where Keith Weber explains the concept of “Pretirement.” “Pretirement is the term being used to describe a new phase of life that fits between career and retirement. Traditionally our lives have been divided into three stages – education, career and retirement. But with longer life expectancies, generally better health and the economic need to continue to earn an income, the line between career and retirement is blurring. Emerging from that blur is an entirely new life stage called Pretirement.”
  • Rethinking-Retirement.com – “How to create the life you want without waiting to retire. Rethinking Retirement helps you create the life you want now. By challenging traditional notions of how our lives are “supposed” to go, former financial advisor Keith Weber offers a new path for creating freedom, balance, purpose and passion in your life.”

For better or worse, the 21st Century has become a time of expanded choices. The possibilities for living a productive, valuable life well past our career years seem endless. By examining your choices and taking advantage of these possibilities, the 3rd Act of your life may bring you a standing ovation.

Tamarind Financial Planning is here for you, with individual financial planning strategies and personal investment management techniques to help you meet and exceed your retirement planning goals.