Third Quarter Life Profiles: Takeaways 

Often when you think you’re at the end of something, you’re at the beginning of something else.” – Fred Rogers

Over the last month, I’ve shared profiles of folks who who are seeking fulfillment in life’s third quarter — the stage of life where people have traditionally retired after long careers. Some are truly retired — for now. Some are semi-retired — maybe still working, but not as hard as they have in the past. And others are somewhere in between. 

Regardless of how they label themselves, they are all looking for meaning and fulfillment just as their generation has done throughout their lives.

In case you missed them, you can check out the profiles of Mike M., Sue W., Joe A., Don G., and Gail W.

The Takeaways

Certain themes emerged from the conversations with these folks. In no particular order, they include:

  1. People in the third quarter of life struggle to define their status. Not one of those profiled mentioned that they were retired in the traditional sense of their parents. They used terms like “mostly retired;” “semi-retired;” “deliberately ‘not retired’;” “looking like retired, but not;” and “retirement doesn’t apply.”
  1. None of them want to “punch a clock”, at least someone else’s clock. They were enjoying the freedom of pursuing their own interests, not those determined by others.
  1. They are all seeking meaning/purpose/fulfillment, they’re not all sure what that means or how to achieve it.
  1. Most are concerned with their legacy. With more time behind them than ahead of them, most of those profiled have thought a lot about how they want to be remembered. Gail was the exception. She noted that none of us will be remembered by anyone after a couple of generations. Many of us will be lucky to have relationships with grandchildren; however, their children will not likely know us at all.
  1. Men and women are different. The men profiled were clear about trying to find purpose and meaning during this life stage. They were still focused on the “doing.” The two women interviewed focused more on “being” — who they are when their other roles go away, rather than what they achieved. I realize that this is a big leap. I only had an n of five people, so it’s dangerous to draw generalizations. But what the heck, live dangerously, I say.

Another Generalization: Expats Are Also Different

In the past few weeks, both Camille and I have had informal conversations with some of our expat friends here in Ajijic, Mexico. These are all folks who fit the third quarter of life demographic. It appears that expats seem to be less concerned with external meanings of purpose and fulfillment. They’ve internalized the concepts for their own use. Moreover, not many seem to be concerned with legacy. They appear to live more in the moment than our friends north of the border.

So these are the takeaways from the profiles. What do you think? What did I miss? Do any of these issues resonate with you?

Talk to me. Send me an email at I want to hear what you’ve got to say.

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Image copyright: lendig

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