The one thing we can all count on in this life is change. People, situations and circumstances all change; yet we struggle. We fear and resist change because we can’t see what is beyond our current situation. Isn’t it ironic that change is the one thing we can count on; yet we can’t count on ourselves to yield to it?
Language is shifting; technology is evolving faster than we change our bed sheets in some cases. It’s important to recognize the value of being open minded and understanding that change is a positive, powerful force instead of expending energy fighting against it or defending the past because it’s all we know.
“It’s a terrible thing, I think, in life to wait until you’re ready. I have this feeling now that actually no one is ever ready to do anything. There is almost no such thing as ready. There is only now.” – Actor, Hugh Laurie
For the most part, we have no reason to question our purpose when we’re young, we seem to have a road map for that chapter but once we get to midlife and beyond the route looks muddled. In midlife our purpose can be challenging to connect with because we’re so used to seeing ourselves in the role we had before. It’s vital to keep our minds and our hearts open and remember that there is no perfect time, so don’t think you have to wait until you’re ready.
As we do our investigative work, it’s important to remind ourselves that we’re not starting over; we’re starting from here, standing on all of the experience and wisdom we’ve gained so far in life. The questions that come up in midlife are important on our journey of discovery, as the answers become our signposts along this adventure. Who am I now? What do I enjoy doing? How can I make a difference for others? This newfound freedom allows us to find purpose in hobbies, education, volunteer work or starting a business.
We all need to feel purposeful to feel fulfilled but too often, we look outside of ourselves for the answer; the fact is that we connect with purpose when we go within. We can read books or speak with a coach for guidance but it’s important to listen carefully to our own inner wisdom to hear the answer. Try asking yourself who or what inspires you: the answer might be your spouse, your grandchildren, your children, your hobbies or your friends. Then ask yourself what it is about the activity or person that inspires you. If it’s their kindness for example, ask yourself where in your life you can invest in more kindness; if it’s their appreciation, ask yourself where in your life you can be more appreciative. If it’s how you feel when you’re immersed in your hobby, ask yourself how you can invite more of that feeling. Connect with your values, your interests and what brings you joy for cues on your purpose in whatever chapter of life you’re living.
“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious.” –Albert Einstein
It’s being in the mystery: in the process of reflection combined with action that leads us to our purpose. Life is not meant to be stagnant but sometimes we have to nudge ourselves to recognize again that we are important and we matter. It’s not so much about us finding purpose but allowing purpose to find us through self-reflection.
It seems that in midlife it’s more about meaning than money. Although finances are an important part of life, remember that money isn’t everything. Some of the richest people I know are wealthy in kindness, empathy and love which makes them feel really good. Of course, we have a choice to stay in our so-called comfort zone, where life feels familiar but we limit our possibilities. Prioritizing purpose in midlife is important because our world doesn’t reflect back to us that we’re relevant. We have to claim it; we have to take up the space we rightfully deserve. There is no boutique selling meaning or purpose, it’s all inside of us. The unconventional route and the one I choose, is one of freedom and growth, staying open minded, open hearted and having some fun along the way.
Here is a link to an article in Psychology Today about finding purpose and community after retirement. There are some great questions to guide you and some helpful insight to inspire you.