Having meaning in life is a key ingredient for well-being and happiness. Retirement can be an adventure offering you the opportunity to explore who you are and what you want to do with this gift of time that will be personally rewarding. No matter what your age is, designing a meaningful life starts with you.
The search for meaning and purpose in your life is sometimes referred to as Spirituality because it pays attention to your inner life. Whether you think of it that way or not doesn't really matter. The fact is that having a purpose for living and living a meaningful life is an important choice you either make or not.
No matter what stage of life you are in, it is important to find meaning and feel like you matter. Young adults often look to work to help define their identity. Many hours are spent at work that easily translates into being needed and often appreciated. Older adults, especially those approaching retirement, often look to religion and/or spirituality as a means of defining who they are.
In both cases, what is important is the feeling that you "matter" or count. Feeling needed, appreciated, and noticed is necessary for good mental health. There is no right or wrong activity. It is whether the activity engages you, uses at least one of your strengths and makes you feel appreciated that is key.
Meaningful activities are purposeful and personally fulfilling. They may:
- Develop a skill.
- Allow you to try new ideas.
- Demand physical and emotional energy.
- Give you a vision of where you are going.
- Be profound or simple.
- Tell you what means the most to you and who your true friends are.
There are different approaches to discover how you can make your life meaningful. The one that I particularly like challenges you to see if you can come up with a meaningful activity to engage in for each of the following areas of your life:
- Improve your physical health.
- Improve your emotional well-being.
- Improve your mental well-being.
- Deepen your relationships.
- Discover ways to help in your community.
This approach helps you think about all of the important areas in your life. Hopefully, you find it is easy to come up with ideas for most of the areas above. There may be several you have to think about for a while or even try some different things before you find what will actually make that area meaningful to you. The important thing is to be open and curious about finding something for each area.
Living a meaningful life is possible. Start today to develop your plan to bring a deep sense of well-being and fulfillment to your life. To begin:
- Choose a meaningful activity for each of the five areas listed above.
- Choose one of the activities to focus on.
- What steps do you need to take to pursue that activity?
- When will you begin?
- Add additional activities on a weekly basis.
Let me know what brings meaning to your life and how you make time for it.
Until next time,