I love the fourth quarter of a football game. I can go without watching the entire first three quarters, jump in on the fourth quarter when there is usually all kinds of activity and tension and get to experience the excitement of the final few minutes of the game. And no matter if it is a win or a loss, how the game is played in the fourth quarter really matters.
I have this belief that there are four quarters of life with real distinctions in each quarter. The first being birth to 19; the second 20 – 39; third quarter 40 – 59; fourth 60 – 79, and if you are lucky to make it past 80, you are in overtime.
So this year, I will be entering into the fourth quarter. I have a strong desire to move into a stage of life where I need to make every second count — in a good way. I have to have a solid strategy to maximize the rest of my life and play hard.
First Quarter: Growing into You (Birth – 19 years)
The first quarter of life is beaming with optimism. It is a time of vitality, playfulness, imagination, ingenuity and passion. It is when you are developing into a young human being, feeling the love and support of your parents, family and friends. Being protected and loved. It includes the discovery and exploration of the world around you. It is a time when you use your imagination in a big way, dreaming of the world and trying to discover your place in it. During this life stage you begin to find out what your natural God-given talent is. You make mistakes and learn. But overall it is a time of wild discovery and wonder.
Second Quarter: Creating a Future (20 – 39 years)
The second quarter of life finds you transitioning from childhood to adulthood. It is during this life stage that you begin to establish your future. You are getting educated, finding a skill or craft, creating a circle of friends, and searching for a life partner. Building a career, landing a job, investing in your first house, buying your very own washer and dryer. Having children and beginning to raise a family. Feeling healthy. Being active. Enjoying life. It is the time we go out into the world and make our mark.
Third Quarter: Established Adulthood (40 – 59 years)
Between 40 and 59 you are an established adult. It is in this life stage that you are hunkered down working hard to build a nest egg for retirement, probably traveling. During this phase, your children leave home and you become empty nesters. Sometimes, toward the latter part of this stage of life, people in midlife take a break from worldly responsibilities to reflect on the deeper meaning of their lives and create a better path to forge ahead.
Fourth Quarter: Intentional Living (60 – 79 years)
And then comes the fourth quarter. Those in mature adulthood have raised families, established themselves in their work life, and become contributors to the betterment of society through volunteerism, mentorships and other forms of philanthropy. All of humanity benefits from their benevolence. Moreover, we all can learn from their example to give more of ourselves to others.
“Intentionality is the key to successful fourth quarter living. People don’t accidentally age gracefully. People don’t accidentally die peacefully. And people don’t accidentally leave behind legacies of hope, love, and encouragement. These all require intentionality.” — Allen Hunt, Matthew Kelly, The Fourth Quarter of your Life
Overtime: On Cruise Control (80+)
If you are fortunate enough to live a healthy and full life and make it into your 80s, you are beyond blessed, because you have beaten out most of the world’s average life expectancy. Those with long lives have amassed a rich vault of experiences that they can use to help influence others. People in our lives who are dying, or who have died, teach us about the value of living. They teach us that each moment matters.
What I realize now is that it is never too late to start living with the end in mind. There will be an end. None of us are getting out of here alive. But what we should all hope for, is that we lived a life with meaning and direction and enjoyed the time we lived to the fullest. That we loved deeply, explored incessantly and shared freely.
The fourth quarter is the stage of life to relish. It’s the time of life to enjoy the freedom that you worked so hard for all of the years before. It is a time to clearly establish the direction that is best for you, and only you, to take. And because it is finite, the last quality years of your life should be focused on spending your time wisely. You now have the experience and wisdom to make good decisions. For yourself. Trust yourself and celebrate the win.