For A Meaningful Life–Start with Finding Your Purpose

Jann FreedLiving, Sage-ing Leave a Comment

We are all busy.  But are you filling your life or are you living a fulfilling life?  This post is for people who are seeking to make sure they are living their life on purpose and with meaning.  

Recently, I conducted the Overview Coaching Cohort from Beyond the Money (BTM).  Beyond the Money is a series of coaching cohorts which help employees nearing retirement prepare for a fulfilling life after their formal career in the workplace. While BTM has many benefits for individual employees, it also directly benefits entire companies by extending and enhancing productivity of those nearing retirement, decreases costs, and assists with critical retirement transitions and transfer of knowledge – all which reflect positively on the brand and workplace.

For the Overview, we touched on:

  • the power of purpose
  • why to write a WHY statement and
  • how to leave a legacy that matters.

At every age and stage of life, it is important to have a purpose.  Richard Leider, one of the experts on purpose, says, “If you have a pulse, you can have a purpose.”  It is what gives life meaning and meaning matters.  And choice is the power in purpose.  We have choices and we can make intentional choices if we think about it.  Leider advocates that purpose combines self and service.  Real purpose comes from contributing and engaging in activities that are beyond oneself.

Leider also believes purpose joins self and service together.  We need to grow in self in order to be of service to others.  In other words, purpose is more than just focusing on what you want to be or do for yourself.  One of my favorite books is GRIT:  Why passion and resilience are the secrets to success by Angela Duckworth.  She defines purpose as “the intention to contribute to the well-being of others … Purpose is the idea that what we do matters to people other than ourselves.”

Studs Terkel, author of Work, concluded, “All of us are looking for daily meaning as well as daily bread … for a sort of life rather than a Monday through Friday sort of dying.”

Leider likes to say purpose is the answer to the question:  What is going to get you up in the morning?

According to Bill Damon, a Stanford developmental psychologist, “purpose is the final answer to the question “Why?  Why are you doing this?”  He advocates observing someone who is purposeful.

One of my main recommendations is to seek out role models.  You may know the person or you may not. But there is power in observation as we can learn from watching others.  Who is living a life that looks attractive to you and would give you meaning beyond yourself?  

In the book GRIT, Damon puts it this way:  “Imagine yourself fifteen years from now (I would say 5-10).  What do you think will be most important to you then?  Can you think of someone whose life inspires you to be a better person?  Who?  Why?”

Several years ago, I was facilitating a leadership workshop for women CPAs.  Since I weave concepts of sage-ing into my leadership work, I was talking about positive aging and I mentioned role models.  One young woman said that her grandmother was her role model for living a life that was enviable to her.  She asked her grandmother how she learned to be that way and her response was something such as:  “I have always looked for role models about 10 years older than myself.  I may or may not know the person.  I watch how they are living their life. Every decade, I may select the same person or another based on stage of life.”  This is a great example of legacy work by passing on life wisdom.

Make no mistake—money is important.  But when you have “enough” money for your desired lifestyle, it is everything else we tend to worry about–life beyond the money.

Research supports that as we gain in years of life experience, meaning trumps money and significance trumps success.  

What is your purpose?

If you don’t have one, what will get you up in the morning for years to come?

Who are your role models?

If you don’t have any, start looking around.

Life is a series of choices.  Make intentional decisions about how you spend your time–our most important resource.  

And remember–Living a fulfilling life is about beyond the money.