by Dr. Patrick Williams, EdD, MCC
One of my early mentors in my exploration of psychology, consciousness, and meaning was Carl Jung. Jung wrote much about the ages and stages of life and was one of the first Western thought leaders that spoke about the “later years” (over 50) as the time for the quest; the journey into a deeper spiritual connection to one’s true life purpose,
A human being would certainly not grow to be seventy or eighty years old if this longevity had no meaning for the species. The afternoon of human life must also have a significance of its own…” Jung, (Stages of Life Collected Works, Vol. 8, Paragraph 787). When the early years (20s and 30s) have been navigated well, then the middle years (40s and 50s) are a time of restlessness and transition. This is often where people experience “burn out,” existential angst, or creative opportunities for change and transformation.
After this time of life one begins what today is being called the “third age” of life – age 60 and beyond. (The way people are living we may have to have a last quarter for the 90 and 100-year-olds.) However, this later stage of life is not just by age in years, but age in spiritual growth – growth and development of the being that you are. This later life period is a period of reintegration. If development has gone well, the psyche can now manifest that which was always in potential. Our sense of identity is now expanded. We know more about our authentic selves and have come to some peace with our mistakes and limitations. We can become more fully who we were created to be, and we can make choices from a place of authenticity and integrity. In our culture, this long coming-to-authenticity period can be filled with health, energy and personal freedom and can offer unexpected joy, peace, acceptance and love.
A new passion of mine, flamed by my friend and mentor Richard Leider (Claiming Your Place At the Fire) is to use coaching to create a new view of eldering and vital aging. It is an opportunity for coaches to work both for themselves and their clients by being mentors to those younger or at an earlier stage in life. Coaching for purposeful living is a big aspect of this and both Richard and I view getting the word retirement out of our vocabulary. I have shifted my language to calling it protirement – a word I learned from Frederic Hudson (author of The Adult Years). To that end I have asked a few wise elders of coaching to share their perspectives with us, which you can read in future blogs.
Dr. Patrick Williams is the Founder and Director of Training of The Institute for Life Coach Training and brings with him a wide variety of training in psychology and professional experiences, as well as training as a Coach. His personal approach is eclectic, drawn from his graduate education, life experiences and other professional training.