What is Third Age?

Third Age is an emerging life stage running roughly from ages 50 to 75 and made possible by longer life expectancy. Rich in possibilities and potential, it involves the questioning of one's old identity, a search for new or greater meaning and purpose in work and life and profound change. It is a time of renewal if we address both its challenge and opportunity.

What's Third Age?
What's Third Age?

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, and in knowing that we can make decisions geared to regeneration and fulfillment. 
  • Its challenge lies in our "response-ability" to give back, to find the best way for us to contribute our gifts, talents, experience and wisdom to address the needs of our communities and our world. 

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.

First of all, it’s important to get a brief rundown on what we mean by the Four Ages of Life.  Each of these "ages" is roughly about 20-25 years in a given life span and has the particular focus outlined here.  For those with less longevity the Ages may be greatly compressed but usually each stage is included in some fashion.

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Coaches & Professionals

Yes, we CAN: Realistic Optimism and Active Hope

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Sun through the corn"We've had unusually severe thunderstorms and record heat in May and June." "We can expect continued above average temps for the month of July." "Record heat and drought conditions persist through August in most of the country. Crop prices are rising!" I've heard these and similar phrases most of this spring and summer. And even though I know that weather is not the same as climate change most eco-scientists say that these extremes are the result of Earth's rising temperature. This already decades-long persistence in changing weather patterns signals a dramatic climate change.

For those of us who know of its ramifications for Earth and us creatures who are a part of it, there is a choice in how we deal with it: we can wallow and drown in "the sky is falling, we are doomed" approach or we can fully acknowledge the problem and move into hope and action-into "the sky is falling, the loss is great and what can we do about it" consciousness. This is the realistic optimism approach that can be so helpful at any time of life but especially as we move into Third Age.

Realism is looking at information about a situation, either personal or global, with clear eyes and if a loss in involved, as is the case with so many things, being willing to acknowledge and mourn that loss. And then being open and active as to what new possibilities may come out of it. Asking ourselves what healing is possible? What is being asked of me now? This is not Ms. or Mr. Pollyanna but an optimism born of trust through the process of suffering.

Those of us who have had a life-threatening illness, who have physical limitations at any age or simply from growing older know it doesn't help to deny our situation . What helps is to inform ourselves, gather and accept our support and look for ways to restore our health in whatever forms that may take. In the midst of this we CAN cultivate a vision of wholeness for ourselves and our Earth.

Joanna Macy's wonderful book, Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We're in without Going Crazy, is a testament to this approach. She writes of honoring our pain, moving into a wider sense of self and time, needing each other and daring to believe. We CAN maintain our energy and enthusiasm within a supportive community with a clear and hopeful vision.

My hope is that we each heed that call in whatever way works for us and that our lives and our world is better for it!

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Nancy Cosgriff

Nancy C. Cosgriff, MA, DMin, has a varied background and Third Age work "portfolio" that encompasses several of her interests. She is an associate of The Center for Third Age Leadership, the co-author/facilitator of its "Coaching for Third Age Fulfillment" program and facilitator of its client workshops. She is also a faculty member of the Center for Spiritual Guidance and Leadership and facilitates personal/spiritual development workshops for "women of a certain age" through her business, Spiral Explorations. Nancy has over 25 years experience in executive and life/work coaching, has participated in the New Ventures coaching program, in EDGES, a learning community for coaches, and is a member of the MN Coaches Association and MN Organization Development Network. She continues to serve organizational leaders and teams through her work in leadership and organization development consulting, design and group facilitation. Nancy is based in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area and lives in Marine on St. Croix, MN, on the bluffs of the St. Croix River Valley where she continues to be renewed and inspired.


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Are You Ready?

If you want to assess your readiness for renewal in Third Age take a few minutes to complete The Third Age Quotient

Message from Richard Leider

The desire to grow is nothing less than the love of existence--a purpose for being here and a deep desire to fully explore life. Growth is at the root of everything that makes us feel vital. Yet, sometimes we do stop growing. Few coaches are as clear and profound in their guidance as Nancy and Melita. They are master gardeners of the growth soil. If you want to feel vital in your third age, study.... It is a must read for anyone who is willing to ask the question, 'Where do I grow from here?"

- Richard Leider - Best selling author of "The Power of Purpose" & "Repacking Your Bags" and founder of The Inventure Group