E. Michael Brady, Professor of Adult Education and Senior Research Fellow, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, University of Southern Maine
Bill Shirley, Executive Leadership Coach, Carbondale, Colorado
Alan G. Greig, The Third Age Coach, Queensland, Australia
Reviewer: E. Michael Brady, Professor of Adult Education and Senior Research Fellow, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, University of Southern Maine
The primary message in Changing Course is the need for people to rethink retirement. The title infers that the later years, much like early stages in the human life course, may be depicted as a voyage and therefore require careful thought and planning.
This book serves as a navigational chart of sorts to help middle aged individuals explore the myriad possibilities for growth and success in their sixties, seventies, and beyond.
A significant aspect of rethinking the later years is to reinvent a language for retirement. Instead of the well worn ‘D’ words often used to describe life after leaving fulltime employment—difficulty, decline, deterioration, disease, disengagement, dependency—Sadler and Krefft offer a refreshing set of ‘R’ words: renewal, reinvention, regeneration, rediscovery, rejuvenation.
In other words, they advocate for a fresh look at aging.
One of the most important aspects of this book is its stories. The reader gets to know details and nuances about the lives of people who have successfully navigated the sometimes difficult and dangerous waters of late middle age and beyond.
Two key ideas stressed are the challenges of rebalancing work and leisure and the development of what the authors call a Third Age Portfolio. Many happy older persons nowadays have learned to blend the continuation of work (part or full-time) with creative leisure. This dynamic allows people to redefine their retirement to fit more closely with the individual they wish to become.
In the words of Sadler and Krefft, “Retirement is not a fixed stage but an emerging process of renewal. Not a finish line, but a new set of starting blocks.”
In summary I found Changing Course: Navigating Life after Fifty to be a superb read. It is intelligent and provocative. The authors effectively balance ideas and theory with examples and concrete applications.
I believe the already inquisitive and active members of lifelong learning institutes who are rethinking and planning their third and even fourth ages will benefit from reading this book.
In addition to his academic position at the University of Southern Maine, Mike Brady is editor of The LLI Review, the Annual Journal of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. The above comments were extracted from Volume 2, Fall 2007, pages 113-115.
Reviewer: Bill Shirley, Executive Leadership Coach, Carbondale, Colorado
Changing Course is a full frontal assault on retirement-as-leisure, an obsolete, life-threatening concept that should have been retired from our society twenty years ago. Because we may have to live more of our life retiring than working, we must now focus on whole life management.
The authors have defined six principles of growth and renewal that operate in the lives of people who successfully transition into a third age grounded in meaning and purpose. The word retirement is replaced by other terms such as renewal, reinvention, regeneration, rediscovery, rejuvenation, and redirection.
The book is an easy, flowing read. The lessons are conveyed by personal success stories of how different people of vastly varied backgrounds and experiences applied the six principles in creating a successful third age. There is no formula for practicing these principles. Each person must grapple with his or her own existential story of identity, direction, and pathways.
Changing Course is a valuable aid in making your life a story worth telling.
The authors nicely distinguish between getting older and aging. Their research of the past twenty years clearly shows that getting older is mandatory, while successful aging is a choice.
Successful aging is the basis for third age enthusiasm and the necessary second growth adventure that follows existential introspection. This second growth is succinctly defined in Changing Course, and the book provides many very inspiring examples of people who have created more competent, confident incarnations of themselves.
Changing Course does a beautiful job of revealing what a successful second growth looks like.
The book is well written, the research is solid, and the language is clear. I am recommending it to all my over-forty clients and friends so they can begin moving towards a second growth adventure and third age thinking. I can sincerely recommend the book to everyone who wishes to die young at a very advanced age.
Bill Shirley lives in the High Country of Colorado and is an executive leadership coach who works with over-fifty executives and professionals transitioning from success to significance as they plan and embark on their unique “encore career.” Visit Bill’s website at www.insearchofeagles.com or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reviewer: Alan G. Greig, The Third Age Coach, Queensland, Australia
Changing Course is a most timely contribution to a better way ahead in our third age. It asks what does better look like? How can we achieve it? And then shows what better looks like and how to achieve this better way ahead.
The book discusses an opportunity that presents itself for the first time in human history. It examines not only increased life expectancy but also positive alternatives in aging by tracking over a twenty-year period people who have creatively redesigned their lives after fifty.
This middle period of life is a time when many people unfortunately anticipate traditional stereotypes of aging, instead of a contemporary viewpoint and the contribution and external perspective that can be provided by a skilled coach.
The pivotal discovery in their research was that after fifty we have creative potential that enables us to direct and shape out lives to experience more meaning, enjoyment, purpose, vitality and fulfilment than we anticipated as we crossed the threshold into our third age.
The authors ask readers, “Do you think people are genetically programmed to begin degenerating into the fifth and sixth decades of life? Are people over the hill after turning fifty?”
To the contrary they provide several examples of individuals, whose stories are told, and who initiated a growth process in a positive direction that postponed and transformed aging with the objective of designing a productive and fulfilling third age.
Changing Course offers specific steps for third agers in “pretirement” to prepare to change course, including the five major tasks of third age planning. It also provides seventeen lessons from third agers who positively engaged their approach to their third age.
These lessons primarily concerned remaining engaged by either transforming their personal identities or remaining in the work force into their sixties and seventies.
Changing Course shows readers how to make their fifties and beyond into their most fulfilling time in life. I commend Changing Course to anyone interested in properly preparing for a happy, contented, and fulfilling third age.
Alan Greig is a professional coach specialising in preparing for one’s third age. He chairs the International Coach Federation (ICF) Third Age Special Interest Group. You can e-mail Alan at email@example.com.