Authors such as Sadler & Krefft (2007) use principles of growth and renewal to describe the third age years. This is not a form of denial but rather a focus on how we can continue to hold youthful characteristics as we age. These characteristics include curiosity, spontaneity, imagination, laughter, and playfulness. Rather than falling into a pattern of decline, there is a call for renewal, rebirth, regeneration, revitalization, and rejuvenation.

Some of the principles of growth include forming a positive third-age identity through mindful reflection and risk taking. There is a need for realistic optimism and the desire to find greater intimacy with others and to re-imagine the relationship between work and play. This can become a time when generativity flourishes and people can begin to care more deeply for themselves, for others, and for the planet.

The metaphor of growth can be understood at several different levels. There are seasons of growth, each with its own special contribution. There is also the possibility of second growth. As we engage in growth there are questions about how to ensure we are maintaining and enhancing fertile soil. There are questions about vision and what is to be grown. Also, how will we care for what we are growing? Ongoing tasks such as pruning, watering and weeding become a necessity.

Some images of growth also suggest a certain transformational quality.  There is a suggestion here of dramatic change, of shifting towards a completely new direction and identity. One does not have to be tied to the past and there can be an opportunity for new growth as one moves forward.  


Sadler, W.A. & Krefft, J.H. (2007). Changing course: Navigating life after 50. Centennial, Co: The Center for Third Age Leadership Press.

Norman AmundsonComment