Many people enter retire from their jobs, enter old age, and ask ‘what’s next?’. Finding purpose in life can be hard, especially as people enter the last phase of their lives.
I’ll never forget a sweet, little old lady boarding my aircraft when I was an airline pilot. As she walked slowly by the cockpit door, I asked “How are you today ma’am?”
“Old age SUCKS!” was her reply as she looked up at me.
It startled me that this nice, gentle old lady would greet me this way. Yet even then I had to agree with her. Nobody wants to grow old. We all want to stay young forever.
Unfortunately, aging is a fact of life. However, life is precious. We all only have one shot at it. That means we should make the most of every day.
Yeah, I know. Easier said than done.
Why Finding a Purpose in Life is Important
One way to make it easier is to find a reason or purpose for living. Something to motivate you to rise out of bed each morning. If you have some purpose to pursue, you won’t spend your time thinking about how much old age sucks.
It’s important to think of a purpose differently than a goal. A purpose shouldn’t be anything like the corporate world’s idea of so much profit this quarter or a student’s goal of obtaining admission to a prestigious college. As you grow older, the purpose may just be making sure you show love or gratitude to someone every day. Or crafting a legacy for your family.
That doesn’t mean you can’t have individual goals in pursuit of your purpose. It means you want a purpose that will last you for the rest of your life. After all, you don’t want to set a goal, achieve it, and then ask what’s next? Because then your old age sucks thoughts will start creeping back in.
Ways to Find a Purpose
Here are some ideas for having a purpose. It doesn’t mean you can’t change your purpose once you start on one. Or you can’t have multiple purposes. Just don’t overwhelm yourself:
- Volunteering – One thing is for sure. The world will never run out of a need for volunteers. Older adults may have a lot of time on their hands. You can find lots of opportunities in your area to volunteer. Websites like Volunteer Match are helpful in locating them. Consider determining what you want to change about the world and volunteer in that certain area. We offer some ideas in another blog post for opportunities around Goodyear, AZ where one of our assisted living homes resides.
- Health – Old age doesn’t have to ‘suck’. Fight back against it. I know eventually it will win. So, go down fighting! Learn about nutrition and exercise. Craft a plan to be the youngest 100-year-old in your town! Learn lots of techniques to stay young. And if you find the key to youth – help others find it!
- Become an Expert – They say it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become a world-class expert in something. That means practicing 2 hours a day for 14 years. Sounds daunting at first. Yet many people live 30 years or more in retirement. The world needs great musicians. Or artists. Or even 90-year-old powerlifters. Think of the people you would inspire by becoming great at something!
- Expressing Love For Your Family – Many times your purpose can be your legacy. Helping your children and/or grandchildren can be the greatest purpose of all. Seeing what you have created succeed is one of the greatest feelings in the world. Enjoy it. Nurture it. And be so grateful that you have been blessed.
Ironically, I have found that helping older people in our assisted living business has helped me feel younger. As a personal testimonial, I can tell you that finding a purpose really works!