In a play, the first act sets up the second one. In the second act, surprises are revealed, answers are found, and happy endings are established. There are three act plays, but they’re more rare. In life, many people ignore the opportunity for a second act, much less a third, but they don’t have to.
The most famous men and women in our history are renowned for their second acts. Kings, Queens, and Presidents come to mind, all of which whose hair is a little grayer, and there resumes listing a number of starts and stops.
What are you wanting to begin that you’re looking for permission to try? It doesn’t have to be anything crazy, you don’t have to have a midlife crisis, but you most certainly can start a second act. It can be as small as a hobby, or as large as starting a second business.
Either way, it doesn’t have to be scary. Unlike the fantasies, no one is advising you to sell out and hop a boat to the Bahamas. A second act isn’t about erasing everything you’ve accomplished up until now. It is about staying relevant at every stage of your life.
How do we do this? The first way is to evaluate your why. If it’s a desire born out unhappiness, then proceed with caution. Don’t allow emotions, no matter how real, to make your decisions for you. Unhappiness may begin your journey, but it should never plan your itinerary.
The next step is the same whether your seeking comes from unhappiness, a desire to make an impact, or in answer to a need. The next point is to seek advice, you and I will always need input. Take some time, talk to the important people in your lives, your Pastor, you’re spouse, a best friend.
Let someone know you’re hurting, or longing for relevance, or even seeking a hobby. If there’s something you want to try, look into it, but not in a vacuum. The people in your life need to know your process, if for no other reason than to understand your journey.
The third point is similar to the second in one way, realize in your new adventure that you are again the student. Even if your second act involves teaching about your first, you’ll need new skills that you’ve yet to learn. Taking this approach will secure you from the prejudice of knowing too much.
When you’re a student, no matter what age, then you’ll accept input from anyone with a good idea. To put it bluntly, if you accept that you don’t know it all, then you are free to take good advice from younger people. This very website would not have been possible without the expertise of some intelligent people who just happen to be younger than me.
The fourth and final point for this article is this, will your second act benefit others? It doesn’t have to feed third world countries, but it should add value to someone. In the case of something small, like taking up painting, the finished product can be at least a Christmas gift. If it’s volunteering, then others will reap the reward of your new experience.
Don’t get me wrong, your second act should make you happy, but if it only makes you happy something is wrong. Second acts need not be selfish or self serving. They should be about investing in life, and that brings dividends to multiple people.
So pick up that brush, start that novel, take that class, but do it with this thought in mind. Like any actor in a drama, real or imagined, I have an audience. My actions can either make me the hero or the villain, it’s my choice. Just know that most plays are revived, and the way you play your second act, could be the pattern one day for your son or daughter’s act two.