Finding your purpose is at the core of creating a fulfilled and happy retirement. In this blog we will explain what it is, why it’s so important, and provide you with some tools to help unlock your own purpose. The extract below is from Mitch Anthony’s book The New Retirementality.
“I have seen far too many retirees adrift in a sea of aimlessness, boredom, and discontent. They found their freedom from the old job and the old routines but didn’t sufficiently contemplate what that freedom should lead them toward.
There is an entire generation of people arising who have decided to make the “third age” of life the most meaningful. This group understands the habits, attitudes, and pursuits that directly correlate with successful ageing and staying young at heart. Words like curiosity, connectivity, challenge and contributing are hallmarks of a new generation of retirees, who are transforming “retiring” into “refiring” and “reclining” into “refining”. These people are leaving an indelible impact on the people, the ideas and the causes they care most about”
Purpose is closely associated with meaning, a term many of us understand. Purpose can be taken to be a rather esoteric term and carrying the label “not for me”. What has helped me to get a practical sense of it was finding the connection between our gifts (talents), passions and values and how these can be used to help others. Purpose is larger than ourselves. Deepak Chopra talks about the law of Dharma and says you will make full use of it when you combine the ability to express your unique talents with service to humanity. A better description is “unlocking” our purpose because its not something we go out and get. Instead it’s something within us.
You may be thinking that you already feel you have purpose. May I recommend the “Purpose Check Up” from the doyen of writers on Purpose Richard Leider. In his book “the Power of Purpose” he includes the check up in Resources but I have added it on the website for you to undertake
So Why is this so Important?
It’s because a sense of life purpose promotes physical, mental and spiritual health. People who seek meaning beyond themselves are happier, healthier and they live longer.
So How Do We Unlock Our Purpose?
There is no one formula but before we can write our life purpose statement we need to search for the clues that lead to it. Referring again to Lieder’s book these clues come in a number of questions. Let me repeat them here:
What are my strongest beliefs?
What do you think is your responsibility to others? (community)
What is life asking of you today? (Service)
What do you stand for? (values)
What do you think your life’s legacy will be? (legacy)
Who are the wise elders in our life? What is their advice? (wisdom)
What do you think is its nature and importance? (compassion)
If you have a concept of God, Supreme Being, or Higher Power, what do you think the source is expecting of you?
Using these clues now draft a purpose statement. One simple way is to complete the sentence
I get up in the morning to …………………………………………………………………
An example might be “to help people be as good as they can be” or “to make the world greener and kinder” or to “bring out the best in my colleagues”
Legacy is a theme covered by Steven Covey in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. In his second habit “Begin with the End in Mind” he describes how you come face to face with yourself at your funeral. You take your seat to hear from four speakers (family, friend, work colleague and someone from your community eg church, community association). Think deeply about what you want them to say about you. Once you have that you can work back to create it in your life.
Another revealing activity is to go back and mine your life for threads and themes that often reveal your lifelong gifts, passions and values. It is a highly effective exercise which I have used many times as a careers transitions consultant.
Unlocking our purpose can be challenging. It's often not a single revelation. It’s more a process to be experienced. We live and grow into it – the more we live it the more it defines us. So don’t worry that you do not have all the answers. The key is to stop, reflect using questions to probe, and start the process. As you go along the clearer it will become.
My message is Start Today! You are on the way to a happy, healthier and more meaningful life.