Think of how you feel with the title of this article: Your aimless life. Now discern how you feel with the statement, Purpose in life. There’s no comparison, right? If the word aimless made you feel lost or empty, there’s a reason. The Oxford English Dictionary, 11th Edition, 2004, provides the following definition of aimless: adj. without purpose or direction. Not much can go right with that way of living.
In contrast, let’s look at the definition of purpose from the same dictionary: n. the reason for which something is done or for which something exists.
One can conclude therefore, that a person without purpose has no reason to live. That’s downright depressing, but that’s the point.
The above article from a recent Seattle Times issue highlights the benefit of reduced medical costs when a person successfully defines their purpose in life. Instead of focusing on reduced medical costs, however, I’d like to look at the less tangible – but more important – benefit of being in good health as a result of living a purposeful life. It’s amazing to me that just living and carrying out ones life with intention equates to being healthier than if one lived without any meaningful direction.
When a person enters retirement there is an initial exhilaration in not having to go through the drudgery of an 8 to 5 work day. Quite frankly, it would feel darn good not having to do anything you don’t want to do. Eventually, however, you might feel like you’re just drifting through that time of your life. You need to have a reason to get up in the morning that surpasses the joy of lingering over the morning paper and sipping a cup of coffee.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying that you’re supposed to line up a new job, hang up your retirement sweatsuit, and return to the employment drudgery from which you escaped. I’d never promote that idea but I will stand by my belief that unless you have direction, you’re not going to be as happy – and as healthy – as you can be. Purpose and direction will mean something different for each of you.
Fulfilling long ignored house projects that will assure you and yours a safe and comfortable place to live for years to come? Fabulous.
Try your hand at growing your own vegetables and sharing with your neighbors or a local food bank? Delicious.
Volunteering for an organization that aligns with your world beliefs? Go for it.
Become a freelance writer ? Sharpen your pencil and get started.
What matters is not what gives you purpose, rather, that you put feet to that purpose. If it satisfies your life and gives you an added reason to get up in the morning, you’ve received the benefit that a purposeful life can provide.
It’s really as easy as that. You have many years ahead of you, make them count for you and make them count for others.
And here’s something to consider, from the book The One Thing by Gary Keller:
Purpose may sound heavy, but it doesn’t have to be. Think of it as simply the ONE Thing you want your life to be about more than any other … Pick a direction, start marching down that path, and see how you like it. Time brings clarity, and if you find you don’t like it, you can always change your mind. It’s your life.