As a 60+ woman, you may ask yourself, “What am I doing with my life?” Or, maybe you’re thinking, “I want to experience purposeful living, not just fill my time.”
Perhaps your sense of purpose was all wrapped up in raising a family and/or your career, but things are changing, and you’re feeling a little lost.
We all want to feel like what we do day in and day out matters.
In fact, plenty of research has shown that identifying and pursuing a purpose improves our physical and mental wellbeing. Studies show that individuals with a sense of purpose tend to experience increased longevity, improved sleep quality, a strengthened immune system, reduced stress levels, and enhanced cognitive function.
But to reap the benefits, our purposes must be anchored to specific positive impacts and the meaning they have for us. Purpose, impact, and meaning are closely related. We need all three to fulfill our human potential and determine what our life will add up to.
Whether you’re going through a life transition, reflecting on your future, or just yearning for more depth and significance, a closer look at these three enablers of purposeful living is always a good idea.
Purpose is your intention to make the world a better place in some way. It’s a cause (or causes) you believe in and are willing to stand up for in your daily life.
It’s about adding more love to the world.
It could be something as personal and close to home as helping a loved one deal with a long illness. One of my intentions is to support my husband through chemotherapy, ongoing treatments, and positive mindsets for his chronic lymphocytic leukemia.
Maybe you feel called to help underprivileged women and children in your community.
Maybe you love and want to help preserve Mother Earth in some way. Perhaps you want to protect animals in your neighborhood or in the wild.
Like me, you may love books and reading and want to promote that in your community.
Perhaps you love art or music and want to contribute beauty to the world. My friend Ruth loves music, has been teaching piano to children for over 30 years, and can’t imagine ever wanting to retire.
To rediscover a sense of purpose, ask yourself, “Who and what do I love? What am I willing to stand for and work towards?”
While purpose is about potential, impact is about reality – the unmistakable effect or influence you have on a person or a situation. Impact is the specific difference you make – what happens from your purpose. It’s something that can be observed and measured.
For example, my husband’s cancer keeps going into remission through the healing power of my love and positivity, plus the passion and skills of his oncology team. As we all stand for his potential wellness, our impact is seen through lower lymphocyte counts in his blood and his quality of life.
Ruth sees her impact when her piano students are excited about new learning and experience the joy of making music. It’s obvious when students are practicing and making progress.
Ask yourself what measurable positive impact you want to make in your world.
Meaning is subjective and unique to each and every one of us. It’s about why we do what we do and the feeling we get from it.
I experience tremendous significance in standing for my husband’s wellbeing. The positive impact of my support is undeniable and brings me great satisfaction.
When I ask myself why, I realize it aligns with my values of higher love, compassion, and zest for life.
Ruth derives much meaning from spreading her love of music and helping expose children to the arts. Why? Because the universal and enduring nature of music touches us all profoundly and promotes authentic self-expression.
A simple way to connect impact and meaning is to repeatedly ask yourself why and stay curious about your answers.
Your next chapter can be your most vibrant and purposeful one yet. The world is waiting to be enriched by your unique gifts – the purpose, impact, and meaning only you can bring. As author Steven Pressfield wrote in The War of Art, “Don’t cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you’ve got.”
Have you ever wrestled with purpose, impact, and meaning? If you’re nearing retirement, do you have a plan for feeling purposeful when the time comes? If you’re retired now, do you feel a little lost? Or maybe you did at first but found your way again?