The New Year is here. What will 2019 bring? Will you have any control over what is going to happen to you? Will you make any changes, or will the years keep rolling along? For young people, the new year represents continued growth in practically every avenue. However, that is not necessarily true for older people. Therefore, I would like to address this month’s column to the more mature among us. Those approaching, or who are in retirement. The great philosopher, Clint Eastwood, has these words for us: “A man’s got to know his limitations.”
For most of our adult lives, especially for men, we are defined by what we do and how we did it. There was typically a clear purpose involving being a provider and taking care of the family. For women, her role as mother was also typically defined as a homemaker, and sometimes being a financial provider as well. (Today those models are rapidly changing for younger generations.)
For both men and women, after retirement, comes the question, “What do I do with the rest of my life? Life expectancy is now greater than ever expected. It is not unusual anymore for people to live to 100. So, how do you approach this new chapter in your life? The emotional component of change is now real. You will now be challenged to develop a new purpose in your life. People who have a sense of purpose live longer than those who don’t. In a recent study involving 136,000 people, with an average age of 67, evaluating the relationship between having a purpose in life and the risk of death or cardiovascular disease, were followed for seven years. The risk of death was 20% lower for those who had a clear sense of purpose. They also had a lower risk of heart attack or stroke.
So, how do you develop a new purpose in life? First, realize that a new life purpose is about pursuing goals and interests, and hopefully an opportunity for adventure and discovery. Here are a few ideas to explore. Look back at the things you used to be interested in during your younger years. What did you enjoy doing then? Perhaps learning a new musical instrument, going to college, volunteering, learning new skills like public speaking, cooking, or small engine repair. Whatever it is, pursue it with focus and passion.