When you live your entire life working, saving money, raising a family, and building a career or a business, your focus eventually becomes getting to retirement and enjoying those years. But sometimes, you spend so much time focused on getting to the retirement years that you forget to make the plan for what you want to accomplish after you reach those years.
Many retirees do not find real happiness until they figure out that living with a purpose is what they need to fulfill their later years. Yes, you’ll plan trips, visit family you want to see, travel to old and new places, and do activities with friends you find along the way, but those may not be the things that give you a sense of purpose. Living with a purpose means finding things significant that will impact the lives of others and, in turn, impact your life too.
When you find things in life that you’re passionate about and also find a way to do those things for others, you will feel great and more satisfied with your life going forward. It’s even better when you can take a few friends along the way and enjoy the activity together.
When growing up, sometimes you realize that maybe you want to be a singer, learn an instrument, play competitive sports, or do something that takes a lot of practice. Whatever those things are, maybe now is the time to try them out and see how they make you feel. You may even find there’s somebody your age that has some of the same desires, and that’ll even make it more fun for both of you.
You may find yourself interested in doing things more significant. I’ll give you an example of somebody who has honed their skills and has decided to use them to help people they may not have ever seen during their entire career.
I’ve talked to some doctors who, after they retired, went on assignments for one, two, and even three years to do what they spent their whole life doing: volunteering their time and talents to help less fortunate people. I had one of these doctors tell me that the only regret he has is that he didn’t do it sooner. He told me that he’s getting too old and that it’s hard for him to keep up with everything he has to do when he’s out there.
This doctor probably didn’t think about volunteering his time and talents after he was retired or factor that into his retirement plan when he was younger. However, he found his life’s purpose and does that volunteer work with a passion. No matter how old or young you are, you can still live with a purpose, do the things you’re passionate about, and live significantly enough to be able to impact the lives of others in many special ways.
There will always be an opportunity out there to find some activity you enjoy that would be solely to help others. Activities and programs involving children, like little leagues and school clubs, are always in need of volunteers. Children need encouragement and people to help open their eyes to the possibilities around them because they will be the people to change the world as they grow older. You’ve likely spent years doing all kinds of things and have an immense wealth of knowledge and experience that would be awesome to share with the young people in your life.
There are many worthwhile places to devote your time to, like police departments, hospitals, food banks, donation programs, service clubs, and others. People are hesitant to get involved in some of these things because they’re afraid it’ll cut into the time that they wanted to devote to other activities. However, since these are volunteer positions, you can make it fit into your schedule without too much commitment while still feeling like you’re participating in something meaningful.
The big challenge is finding something that makes you feel like you have a purpose in your life and find value and satisfaction of doing things for others. Keep in mind it can strictly be within your family. Many people move to areas where they can help their children handle their kids.
However, there can be a lack of fulfillment if all you’re doing is being a babysitter with all your time. Your children don’t need to be trained to just plan on you taking care of their children while they have their own separate life away from their kids. Be sure not to let them abuse you that way because there are many things that you should be doing and not spending all of your time doing what they should be doing. Remember the tough love it took to raise your children; you may need to give them some more of that even when raising their children as adults.
If you’re having trouble finding a purpose in your life, I suggest thinking about it like this: The best is yet to come. Instead of passive letting things happen to you for the rest of your life, be encouraged to seek things out that you enjoy doing and give you a sense of purpose.
It’s common for people to look back on their lives and realize they left a lot of their potential untapped. When you see something you passed up on all your life but now have the opportunity to do, figure out how to do it, and just do it. Don’t worry about what your family and friends are going to think — just enjoy it and do it. Don’t leave anything undone. If you know of something that would make you happy if you started it, I strongly recommend you do it now. If you wait another week before you know it, the weeks will be gone, and so will the opportunity.
The motto I like to live by is “both-and,” which means you shouldn’t spend time trying to split your passions — do all the things you love to do and give you purpose. It’s your life, so live it up and leave this life knowing you did your best to make the most of it. Then, encourage as many people as you can to do the same.
To participate in discussions of how to Live With a Purpose, visit our forum.