Living Our Best Lives – Part 6
One of my dear friends has been very busy running a business and teaching part-time at a college. At seventy, she’s hoping to sell her business to free up some of her time. While she still plans to teach because it is deeply satisfying for her, she also intends to explore some of her own interests including possibly learning how to tap dance. It’s time for all of us to start thinking about how we can live our best lives now and in the future.
It’s Time to Explore Possibilities
Once we enter our fifties, we become more aware that ‘the train has left the station’ and our journey through life will eventually come to an end. If you want to live your best life now and in the future, then consider ways you can experience life to the fullest and feel engaged in things that really matter to you. This could be the right time for you to unpack some of those unfilled dreams or interests that you haven’t allowed yourself to explore.
As you begin to explore different interests, you may discover new areas that are especially important to you. We’ll talk about finding a sense of purpose as we explore some of the activities that might add new richness to your life.
First, let’s start by taking time to explore some of your interests that are either new or are ones that have been sitting on the shelf collecting dust. Examples might include: writing, art, music, sports, computers, dancing, gardening, traveling, learning a new language, spending time with family, thrill-seeking, or taking classes.
It is time to try new things. I’m trying to learn a new language using a free APP called DuoLingo. It is fun and engaging. I’m also picking up something I used to enjoy –landscape painting. I like to paint along with Bob Ross on YouTube. Because I have all the supplies needed, I usually invite a friend over to paint with me. My activity becomes a fun social opportunity – especially when enjoyed with a little wine.
What are some new or renewed activities that you’d like to do? Think about fun activities and also ones that might challenge your mind such as taking a class or learning a new skill.
What Gives You a Sense of Meaning or Purpose?
Lots of research supports the importance of finding a sense of purpose or meaning. In short, it is associated with a healthier, happier, longer life. However, I think some ‘life purpose’ gurus have tried to tell us that finding a sense of purpose should involve some mystical vision question in the wilderness. That’s really not true.
Finding a sense of purpose or meaning doesn’t have to be any more involved than thinking about something that keeps you going. It could be that getting up each morning and taking care of your beloved dog or cat gives you a sense of purpose or meaning. It could be that you are a good friend, or you volunteer as a way to spend part of your time. Or maybe you are determined to be a good role model for your grandchildren. It doesn’t have to be complicated.
I think most of us have several things in our lives that give us a sense of purpose. It doesn’t hurt to revisit some of those meaningful aspects of our lives. For me, loving my family and ‘being there’ for family members gives me a sense of purpose. Keeping a regular exercise routine is meaningful to me as well –I feel like taking care of my health is important. I value learning, so I keep trying to learn new things. Before I retired, teaching was something that also gave me a sense of purpose.
Since I no longer work fulltime, part of what I am doing is something I’ve always wanted to do – I’ve developed a website with information about aging, ageism, and retirement. I also write and speak. How did I figure out that this was something I wanted to do? I started my thinking about the work I have done for the past few decades. I wrote a journal about the aspects of my work that I loved most. I also thought about the experiences I’ve had that were most meaningful for me.
What kinds of things give you a sense of meaning or purpose? Jot a couple of thoughts down in your journal. Your life matters – probably even more than you realize!
Revisiting Our Journey
We’ve covered a lot of ground over the past five weeks. If you’ve missed one of our weekly 50+ lifestyle planning articles, you can find each of the previous topics here:
Part 1: The Gift of Time – How will You Use it?
Part 2: Planning for the Gift of Time
Part 3: What Really Matters?
Part 4: Freedom to Choose Your Best Life
Part 5: Social Connections Matter