Why Having a Sense of Purpose is So Important in Retirement
Do you do something that fills you with satisfaction and meaning? Do you feel a sense of accomplishment because what you do aligns with who you are? Or, are you in a quandary to discover how to contribute your expertise and good heart in the world?
As we get older, we often seek to answer these questions and are led on a path to discover our personal purpose—our reason for being here on earth.
We also want to make a difference. We want to use our values, ideas, skills, experience, wisdom, and talents to affect positive change.
Purpose Amplifies Happiness
When you have a purpose, you can contribute the best of who you are to those who need what you have to offer. This outpouring of personal contribution is extremely satisfying and your happiness is magnified.
Also, in addition to helping others, purpose pushes you forward on days that aren’t your best, because you know there is something important for you to accomplish. You are on a mission… and your purpose far outweighs any setbacks you may experience along the way.
Purpose Delays Alzheimer’s
Contributing through purpose also appears to have a potent ability to improve and extend lives.
“(A sense of purpose) is a very robust predictor of health and wellness in old age,” – Patricia Boyle, a neuropsychologist at the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center in Chicago.
Following almost 1,000 people (average age 80) for up to seven years, Dr. Boyle’s team found that the ones with “high purpose” scores were 2.4 times more likely to remain free of Alzheimer’s than those with low scores.
They also were less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment, often a precursor. “It slowed the rate of cognitive decline by about 30 percent, which is a lot,” Dr. Boyle added.
In addition, her study showed that purposeful people were less likely to develop disabilities or die. A sample of 1,238 people followed for up to five years (average age 78) by Rush researchers found that those with high purpose had roughly half the mortality rate of those with low purpose.
How to Discover Your Purpose
Personal purpose appears to be a clear path to longevity and healthy lifespan as well as happiness and a worthwhile way to use our time.
There are exercises in my book, Revivement: Having a Life After Making a Living that will walk you through a process to discover your purpose and mission in life.
Here are a few questions to begin your personal search. Your answers will identify what is most important to you. Ask yourself:
What has motivated me to overcome my challenges?
What kinds of activities have I been drawn to over and over?
What was so engrossing that it made the day fly by?
What have I done in my spare time that I enjoyed?
What are the topics of movies, books and lectures that I’m drawn to?
Become Who You Are
When you discover your purpose, you may become one of the stories about people who do amazing things when they are inspired to action. By helping yourself, others, and the world, you will make the contributions for which you were born to give.
What gives you a sense of purpose in life? Have you found a way to give back to your community and society in order to gain a sense of fulfillment? What interests and activities in your life give you a sense of purpose and meaning? Please join the conversation.
Gloria Dunn-Violin is a professional speaker, workshop leader, and author of Revivement: Having a Life After Making a Living. Her 25-year background in organizational behavior and development, constant research and personal experience makes her uniquely qualified to guide retirees on their journey. She also hosted a cable TV talk show and writes for publication. Visit her site at www.havingalifenow.com.