Aging can seem to be a process of loses: loss of freedom, loss of mobility, loss of dignity, as well as perhaps, the loss of friends and spouse. Add to this the loss of purpose and life can simply look bleak. But for many members of our aging society, it isn’t this way at all. These people view aging as another phase of life to be embraced and enjoyed.
The stories of people who have retired and died soon after are almost cliché. Why do so many lives come to an end just when they should be rewarded for decades of commitment and hard work? There is an answer.
The key change that occurs after retirement is the loss of a sense of purpose. After decades of working, waking up and heading into the day with a purpose, the sudden change at retirement can leave a
person confused, frustrated and adrift. For too many, this is the beginning of the end, but it doesn’t have to be this way. For others it’s a time to reinvent their lives. It is a time to find new purpose and meaning.
The first step in aging with purpose is to recognize the problem and realize that it is within your control to do something about it. Get past the idea that retirement is a time to sit back and relax. If you planned to lay back in your recliner and spend your days napping, don’t expect to live a long and happy next chapter in your life. It’s just the opposite. It’s time to get busy. The difference is that it’s time to get busy doing what you love, on your terms and schedule, and not according to what your boss ordered you to do.
For some who loved their job and had a deep interest in what their job entailed, it may mean continuing in the same field but in a new venue. You may be able to volunteer by teaching others, tutoring students, providing tours of facilities. It may be a time to take courses in writing and compile your knowledge in a book for others to learn from. There may be an aspect of your field that fascinated you but that you couldn’t pursue in your work. Now is the time to explore it.
If you didn’t really love your job, but had a passion for a field, or hobby on your off hours, now is the time to fully commit. Whether it is music or Motorsport, dive in.
If you neither loved your job, nor had a true passion for something else, now is the time of discovery. Try everything. Local community centers and colleges have endless courses and programs on anything from art to archery, juggling to geology, and writing to building. Clubs abound for every interest from walking to quadcopter building. Join Toastmasters or one of the new “makers” clubs that are popping up. Become more involved in your community. Meet new people. There is something for everyone. Something is just waiting for you to discover it.
With lengthening lifespans, many people now experience a “second life.” In their 50s, 60s, and 70s, people are entering into new fields. Demographic trends suggest that there will be a coming shortage of labor due to a smaller workforce and that the skill and knowledge of an older generation with be more valued than ever.
Entering your next phase of life should be a time of exploration and excitement. Your purpose now should be the greatest purpose in your life. Set goals, meet like-minded people, get passionate, and get active. This is just the beginning.