The polls are in. Recent research has again confirmed what dozens of other past studies have concluded: having a definite purpose, or a “zest for life” correlates with living longer AND having a great quality of life as you enter your golden years and beyond.
Thousands of centenarians (people aged 100 and beyond) have been interviewed throughout the last few decades, and time after time researchers discover the same answers for the question “how does one live to be 100?” One of the most simple, yet vitally important, answers given is simply having a purpose in life – to wake up every morning with a chief aim for the day, with something to do or someone to serve. Many of the respondents noted that “as long as I can be helpful and contribute to society then I am able to keep going.”
Isn’t it interesting that many times as our loved ones progress in age we tend to tell them to “take it easy” or “just rest,” when really they are usually more than willing to play a role in Thanksgiving meal prep, cleaning up the yard, gardening, etc.
Other commonalities between amazing individuals who continue to thrive well after retirement include an active lifestyle, fresh food diet, and having a strong social network that they regularly engage with. The word “retirement” literally means “to take out of service,” however, as human beings we are designed to be individually unique servants to the rest of the world throughout our ENTIRE lives. Whether or not we are being paid for it is immaterial. If you are providing service to anyone — be it your kids, clients, or someone at a soup kitchen, you should always give them your absolute best.
The goal in our 20’s, 30’s, and into middle ages is to harness this simple, yet timeless wisdom, and use it to our advantage. Begin to analyze your diet and start to swap an apple for a processed granola bar as a morning snack. Schedule more time on Fridays or over the weekend to enjoy the company of friends and family. Keep the body in motion by regularly walking, visiting the gym, seeing a chiropractor, swimming, etc. Last but not least, sit down and answer the question, “why am I here?” Get your purpose defined and look at it daily as a small reminder of your overarching mission while you are here on this Earth!
The best way to begin to etch out your unique purpose is to consider what your automatic priorities in life are. In other words, what are the things that you are inspired by. Is it fitness? Sports? Writing? Music? Raising children? Teaching? Cars? You will know your priorities because you enjoy talking about them and will always find a way to plan your day AROUND them. These are things that people can’t talk you out of skipping, like going to the gym for instance. It is so important to know your top priorities in life so you can design your purpose around them. In doing so, you will maximize your potential to serve ever-greater numbers of people with high-quality products, services, and ideas. As a result, you will feel consistently inspired rather than consistently tired.
The next step is to take your defined priorities and consider how you can positively affect the lives of others by leveraging your expertise in the area of your priorities. If you are a gym rat, have every muscle magazine, love working out, never skip cardio, eat healthy, and the like – you would be crazy not to sit down and figure out how to serve people who are looking for someone with that knowledge in the fitness/nutrition arena. Once you do, you will be more fulfilled, more successful, more innovative, and more able to weather the storm when challenges arise.
A human being in the modern world will spend close to 85% of their waking hours being of service to someone in some way, especially before retirement. When you are on purpose and doing inspiring things, you build up your levels of health and decrease stress. When you are off track and fulfilling someone else’s purpose, your stress hormones skyrocket and you effectively set up a body environment that is ripe for sickness, breakdown, and disease. Subconsciously your body knows you are not being congruent with what your true priorities are.
Of course, after you leave the workforce, it is as critical a time as ever to ensure you continue to find ways to serve and to be on purpose. Those who do continue to flourish…and those who do not will continue to perish.
For a quick rundown of how to define and actually write a purpose statement, see the following link from SUCCESS Magazine!