Coaching for 65+
Whether it’s called retiring, rewiring, 3rd Age, 3rd Chapter, or your “encore” career, anticipating leaving full time work and a career that has defined your identity for your whole adult life is no small thing. Many describe it as a time of great paradox: slowing down on the one hand and taking off in new directions, on the other. William Sadler in his book The Third Age describes it this way, “This renewing process is in fact filled with paradoxes – loss and gain, finishing and starting, reflection and risk taking, fear and optimism, liberation and attachment, caring for self and caring for others, growing older and growing young.”
Parker Palmer in The Courage to Teach, also talks about the opportunity to engage the paradoxes in front of us. He writes, “Holding the tension of opposites is about being, not doing. If I do not fully live the tensions that come my way, those tensions do not disappear: they go underground and multiply. I may not know how to solve them, but by wrapping my life around them and trying to live out their resolution, I open myself to new possibilities and keep the tension from tearing me apart.”
To be sure, this time of life has us realizing that there are more years in our past than in our future, and as such, we become much more aware of our mortality. And when we do we want to know, how do I live the rest of my life with meaning? What’s most important to me right now? What’s the legacy I want to leave behind? What will give me a sense of excitement and energy that I haven’t had time for up until now? What matters to me most and can I arrange my life to make those things more visible each day? This stage of life offers opportunities for novel professional, entrepreneurial, or avocational work, and new learning and self exploration.
Coaching at this stage of life is about embracing paradoxes; honoring what’s being let go of while imagining and planning for what’s calling you forward. As Palmer suggests, the starting place for coaching would be on “being” not “doing”. Who do you want “to be” in this next stage of life and who are you “becoming”? The answers to those questions will guide the “doing” - the decisions that are waiting to be made.