ACT III – Your Anti-Retirement Playbook

Hey Boomers – this is a great book to work through in the new year. As an aging baby boomer you may be looking at “retirement” soon and wonder what that really means. Does it really mean ending your work? Or does it hold an opportunity to re-invent yourself and live Act III of your life?


ACT III – Your Anti-Retirement PLAYBOOK is written by Cecilia Williams and Paula White. They describe a time when being asked, “If you had a million dollars today what would you do?” and not having an answer. Life had whizzed by for thirty years. However, they could answer, “What if you were retired and had a million dollars, what would you do?”

I find myself, like the authors, in that awkward age of late fifties. I am not looked upon as prime material by current and upcoming employers, and finding myself being given seniors’ discounts without asking.

Boomers who entered the work place had a good ride. The economy continually grew. Hard work was rewarded.

And then the world changed. The economic crash of 2001 hit boomers in their prime earning years. The dot-com crash was a hard reset to boomer expectations of the future.

I know several people who worked at Nortel here in Ottawa and had invested all their retirement investments in the company. After Nortel collapsed there was a running joke. What is the difference between Nortel shares and an empty case of beer? You get more money by returning the empty beer bottles.

Now facing a dim future for retirement, boomers need to re-invent themselves. It is at this opportune time the new life choices can be explored. People who are in this situation are called Third Actors by the authors. This is because in a play, ACT III is where all that has gone on before comes to a climax.

Third Actors have the experience, wisdom, patience, and power to shift their lives. To live life at its fullest. To live a life that is fully chosen.

With this premise, the authors developed a structure and guide the reader through exercises in exploring what their Third Act.

The structure contains elements in the foreground and background. The foreground includes recognizing and fulfilling dreams, work and financial management, and relationships. The background supports these three sections. They are exploring interests, staying in touch with technology, nurturing the soul, and health.

Although I have thought about many of the concepts discussed, I found each exercise revealing. The structure provides a method to step through all aspects of re-inventing yourself.

One section that struck me was on nurturing your soul. Given our ups and downs in our journey, we may have feelings of guilt or failure for not achieving the aspirations of our youth. The authors advise us to practice profound self-love in Act III.

Profound self-love comes from accepting yourself with all the flaws, accomplishments, successes and failures that have come with your life. It means forgiving yourself for any wrongdoings or shortcomings, understanding that, at the time you did the best that you could.

With this acceptance, you can allow yourself to re-start, to dream again, because it is not too late. You are entering Act III – a life of your choosing.



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