How Important is Life Purpose in Retirement?
Your life purpose consists of the central motivating aims of your life—the reasons you get up in the morning. It is not just what you retire to but also what you retire with! Many retirees make the mistake of just retiring from. . . . . a career which may or may not have had much of a purpose. Discovering what you will retire with has exceptional benefits in your much anticipated “permanent” vacation.
Purpose can guide life decisions, influence behavior, shape goals, offer a sense of direction and create meaning.
For some people, purpose is connected to vocation—meaningful, satisfying work. For others, their purpose lies in their responsibilities to their family or friends. Others seek meaning through spirituality or religious beliefs. Some people may find their purpose clearly expressed in all these aspects of life.
Purpose will be unique for everyone.
What you identify as your path may be different from others. What’s more, your purpose can actually shift and change throughout life in response to the evolving priorities and fluctuations of your own experiences. During your career, you may have been mentored by many or just one, but now during retirement, it may be your turn to mentor. Many young professional women have made plenty of mistakes because there was no one to mentor her. Now is your turn to give back.
Questions that may come up when you reflect upon your life purpose are:
- Who am I?
- Where do I belong?
- When do I feel fulfilled?
Each of us have a unique purpose. Your life purpose is your contribution to others.
Some people feel hesitant . . .
about pursuing their life purpose because they worry that it sounds like a self-serving or selfish quest. However. . . .
the true purpose is about recognizing your own gifts and using them to contribute to the world—whether those gifts are playing beautiful music for others to enjoy, helping friends solve problems, or simply bringing more joy into the lives of those around you.
During retirement, you will now generally have more time to pursue your purpose. Take some time today to think about how you will use your time and talents in the world today.
“A genuine purpose points to the end of a self-absorbed, self-serving relationship to life.”
When your authentic purpose becomes clear, you will be able to share it with the whole world.
“Passion will point you to your purpose”
A 2016 study assessing the purpose of over 1,000 retirees, found that those with a high sense of meaning in their lives spent more time and attention on their loved ones and communities.
On the whole, people with purpose tend to be more engaged with their families, colleagues, and neighbors, enjoying more satisfying relationships as a result.
The retirement effect: Research shows . . .
. . . .that the two most vulnerable times in a person’s life are
- the first twelve months after birth and
- the year following retirement.
In fact, you have probably heard stories about perfectly healthy men who died shortly after they retired from a lifelong career. Some researchers suspect that for these men, the end of their career also signified the end of their purpose in life, which affected their health and wellbeing.
A study of retired employees of Shell Oil found that men and women who retired early (age 55) were more likely to die early than those who retired at age 65. A similar study of almost 17,000 healthy Greeks showed that the risk of death increased by 51% after retirement.
These two studies suggest that there may be some risk in only finding meaning in a career. It seems important to reshape life’s big questions and find ways to continue serving a purpose even after retirement to improve chances of a longer, healthier life.
Living with purpose promotes resilience
One of the common features among people who live with purpose is that they are able to find meaning in the things that happen to them. These people are committed to “cognitively reappraise situations and regulate emotions, turning life’s proverbial lemons into lemonade”, says Christy Ingle, Life Coach.
More extensive research of well-being has found that people . . . .
with a strong sense of purpose are better able to handle the ups and downs of life.
Purpose can offer a buffer against obstacles, therefore a person with a strong sense of purpose remains satisfied with life even while experiencing a difficult day.
This kind of long-term resilience can lead to better cardiovascular health, less worry, and greater happiness with retirement over time.
Isn’t it time you found your life purpose? Retirement is the perfect time to pursue your passion and purpose. Start or continue persuing your life purpose with these questions to first uncover your passions . . . . .which will lead you to your purpose.