Written by: Virginia Macali
Date: December 14, 2016

Fork in the road in a forest

 What is my purpose?  What is my calling?  How shall I invest my time, energy, and attention?

These questions arise early in adulthood, at midlife, late in life, and anytime in between.  The questions seem particularly poignant for people in Act III of their lives.  Many Baby Boomers are looking for what’s next for them.  As a generation, they have greater longevity and better health than previous generations.  Some retire earlier than their parents did, which gives them decades ahead to do something meaningful or new.

Mary Catherine Bateson calls these bonus years, “The Age of Active Wisdom.”  These years give Baby Boomers the opportunity to contribute to others and the world in ways that use that use their knowledge and experience.

In a Wall Street Journal article by Diana Cole states the importance of having a mission. Dr. Patricia Boyle has done research to show that having a purpose “can help stave off cognitive decline and promote a broadly healthier, longer life.”

There are many resources to support the discovery or re-discovery of your purpose and calling.  Callings:  Finding and Following an Authentic Life by Gregg Levoy presents reflections on living an authentic life.  He examines the gifts and challenges of uncovering and following a calling.

Tim Kelley, in True Purpose:  12 Strategies for Discovering the Difference You are Meant to Make, leads a step by step process to access your purpose, see what gets in the way, and how to move forward.

Adam Leipzig shares his take on finding your purpose in just a few minutes in his Ted X Talk.  With 5 straightforward questions, he helps you name your purpose and is also a great beginning for an “elevator speech.”

Alice Adams, in It’s Easy to Find Your Purpose Again After Retirement advises:

  • Don’t think of yourself as retired. Think of yourself as “pursuing other options.”
  • Cultivate a diverse set of interests by meeting new people.
  • Enjoy being a lifelong learner by taking a class.

I have spoken with retirees who named their purpose in the following ways:

  • Exposing my grandchildren to the arts
  • Recording history by writing a memoir
  • Advocating for a cause important to me
  • Cultivating compassion
  • Being a good friend
  • Expressing gratitude
  • Listening better

What purpose are you living now?  Is there a new purpose that you’d like to explore?


  • SoCal

    You might enjoy our new book, “At Home Abroad: Today’s Expats Tell Their Stories” Good luck to you!
    TodaysExpats.com

    • Byron Edgington

      I’ll look it up, thanks!