What is the Third Life Alignment all about? PART ONE

Apr 5, 2016

What is a Third-Life Alignment: PART ONE | www.nalumana.com
As many of you know, I’ve been rumbling around with the idea of the Third-Life Alignment for a little while now.

It’s an experience that I noticed nearly all of my coaching clients were experiencing, in one way or another. All women in their 30s and 40s, they were in various stages of a process of transitioning into a way of living, a way of being in the world, that felt more aligned with their core values; their authentic self.

In the very pragmatic sense, these women were stepping out of the boxes they had used to define themselves throughout their 20s – boxes that were often walled with other people’s expectations, culturally-defined milestones and external sources of validation. Though they were happy and felt very much aligned in many areas of their lives, they felt “out of whack” in others – their careers, their relationships, their motherhood, their physical body, as examples.  For some, these feelings of misalignment showed up as a niggling sense of something being “off.”  For others, it was a full-blown feeling of being out of integrity in some way that needed to be resolved as quickly as possible.

After subsequently interviewing over a dozen more women about their experiences with the Third-Life Alignment, I couldn’t believe how similar each person’s stories were.  Remarkably, another similarity was that each of them felt as though they were experiencing this transition in isolation.

How is a Third-Life Alignment Characterized?


The women I spoke to relayed a number of thoughts and feelings that resonated strongly:  they talked about this process of transition into alignment as being a slow and gradual transformation that felt like an awakening.  Unlike a quarter-life crisis, which often revolves around the establishment of identity, these women already knew who they were, but she had gotten lost under a pile of expectations, other people’s dreams, and goals for the sake of goals.  Many of the women I spoke to found themselves getting back in touch with their teenage or childhood selves – the person they were before they cared what anyone else thought of them.

Another key characteristic of the Third-Life Alignment for the women I spoke to was the sense that “life is short,” and that they were trading their precious time for the choices they’d made in work, parenthood and life.  There was no time to waste; they wanted to know what they would do with their one “wild and precious life,” as Mary Oliver so eloquently puts it.

The Third-Life Alignment is also differentiated from a quarter-life crisis because, unlike during their 20s, this transition was occurring within the context of the roots that each woman had established in her life:  a career, a partner, a family, a house….responsibilities.  Transformation required re-evaluating what might have looked to others like a perfectly respectable career, or explaining to a partner that she wanted to make a significant change to their lives, or wondering how to navigate major change while balancing the needs of her children.

Relatedly, the need for self-care during the Alignment process was of the utmost importance, and, paradoxically, incredibly challenging to negotiate.  Women going through this transition needed time “away from it all” to think, meditate, and feel was happening on a somatic level.  They needed time to engage in the Exploration Stage of the alignment – to find authenticity in tuba lessons, running marathons, or going back to school.

Women seemed to go through the Third-Life Alignment in five very distinct stages, which I will explore more fully in Part Two of this blog series.  Stay tuned!


Your Turn:

Does this description of the Third-Life Alignment resonate with you?
How has the Third-Life Alignment played out in your life?