Whether you’re grieving the loss of your career due to the pandemic or you want to take the reins and start a new chapter in your life, you might be thinking you need to wait until life returns to normal before you can begin to think about what’s next. Surprisingly, the opposite is true. 

Now is actually an ideal time to start! 

Now is the time to reflect, dream and take action. It’s not a time to wait. Disruption, challenges and change inspire creativity, purpose and new beginnings. The freedoms, activities, work and connections to loved ones that you may have recently lost will undoubtedly help you clarify what is most important in your life, and help to point you in the direction of your 3rd chapter.

What might you create that gets you excited to get out of bed each morning and start your day? 

If Steve Jobs had not been fired from Apple and then rehired during a recession, we would not have the i-Phone. If Elizabeth Gilbert had not gone through a devastating divorce and traveled to Italy, India and Bali, we wouldn’t have the best-selling book and movie Eat, Pray, Love. And although you may not want to start a new business in your next chapter, some of our best-known companies started during economic downturns including Uber and Airbnb. 

I started my 3rd chapter the hard way. And you don’t have to. In 2015, I left my long-term successful career as executive of an international training company in the San Francisco Bay Area.  My love of outdoor adventure inspired a move to the mountains of Sun Valley, Idaho. I was looking forward to the play and freedom, thinking they were going to fill my life with new meaning.  I quickly found myself grieving the purpose, people, challenge and structure of my corporate life and realized that just play and freedom were not going to cut it.  It took me two years of struggling and research to figure out what it would take to create a meaningful and fulfilling 3rd chapter, and another year of work to make it real.  Now I know that it takes reflection, intention, planning and action to clarify and build five essential pillars of a 3rd chapter. If only I knew then, what I know now, I could have prepared well before I launched and not had to suffer through a multi-year transition. 

If you do the groundwork now, you’ll be ready to blossom into your 3rd chapter as life and the economy reopens. By the way, this is not to minimize the need for grieving the losses you experience. It’s important to make the space to embrace the emotions of grief and to reach out for help when needed.

How to begin? It’s important to set aside reflection time to start the process and keep a journal of your thoughts and ideas. You can journal, reflect, recapture dreams you haven’t had the time to realize in the past, and begin to build the bridge to what’s next.

Launching your 3rd chapter requires identifying what you care about most. I typically have my clients focus on the following five (5) essential cornerstones:

People – Who are the loved ones, friends, colleagues, that you want by your side for the journey forward? Who are the people you want to serve in your 3rd chapter? Examples are family, an underserved part of the population, or those coming up through the ranks in the industry you are leaving.

Purpose – What drives you toward a satisfying future? What is something important and meaningful to you that utilizes the talents, skills and experience you most enjoy in service of something you care about? Your purpose is what gets you excited about getting up in the morning and it can take many forms. What are the talents, skills and experience you most enjoyed in your past jobs? Write them down and start looking for new and creative ways to apply them.

Pleasure – What do you enjoy doing? I used to think this was the cornerstone of a happy life but learned through experience and research that although it’s important, it is only part of a wildly fulfilling next chapter. This is where your bucket list fits in. What are the day-to-day activities you enjoy most? What are the getaways you want to plan and look forward to in the years ahead? For example, if you want to go to New Zealand or Bali someday, start researching and collecting ideas for the trip. 

Place – Where do you feel held and supported? What type of home do you want in your 3rd chapter? Do you want a garden? Do you want to downsize or change geographies? Dream into this one and capture your thoughts and ideas.

Prosperity – Are you in tune with your body, mind and spirit? This is both a material and a spiritual topic. Although finances are an important part of prosperity, there is much more to it. Your health is everything, especially in your 3rd chapter. What are the practices you enjoy that support your health and wellbeing? What are your spiritual beliefs and practices? Engaging in them on a regular basis is important to creating a solid foundation of wellbeing that will carry you through any transition to your 3rd chapter.

The process of exploring, clarifying and then taking action steps in these five areas of your life take time, intention and attention. Dive in with a perspective of discovery and adventure and allow the process to create a sense of joy and purpose in your life. The vision of your 3rd chapter will begin to take shape and you’ll be inspired to begin taking action.

Sabrina Roblin, CPCC is a retired executive, founder of Life Reinspired, and happily enjoying her 3rd chapter. She helps other successful Baby Boomers do the same. If you want to learn more about starting your own 3rd chapter, you can contact Sabrina at: [email protected] or www.lifereinspired.com.