Why are we here? What purpose do we have? Who are we serving?
These are not questions we often ask ourselves, are they?
But there comes a point in life when we should… and that point is retirement.
Why? Because that’s a perfect time to discover your new purpose in life, your new beginning.
But before we get to that, let’s take a step back to where it all began…
Who am I?
Our identity starts to form from the moment we are born and is largely shaped by the personalities and beliefs of the people around us. Parents mould us in ways that are difficult to challenge, and whether we like it or not, we become mirror images of them. There are other influences, too: friends, society, schooling, culture, location, and life experiences all come together to make us who we believe we are.
This youthful identity not only determines who we are but also what we do – our purpose. It wasn’t that long ago that children left school to follow in their father’s footsteps, in the same line of work as many generations before them. Even now, when school leavers seem determined not to do what their parents did, their life path is largely predicated.
Shaken from our stupor
Most of us go on to carry this same identity and purpose throughout life, never daring to question or challenge it. That is until a crisis hits; the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, a friend, or marriage. When those life-changing moments come – the ones that punch us so hard in the stomach it becomes difficult to breathe – they shake us out of our stupor and force us to look long and hard at ourselves, our identity, purpose, and our destiny.
It may not seem it at the time, but this is actually a very good thing. With the right mindset, these crises are opportunities, a chance to reassess, reevaluate and reinvent. Something to be grateful for.
Why? Because as the Greek philosopher Socrates said: “An unexamined life is not worth living.”
A brilliant, insightful quote in my eyes, and one I’d like to explore…
To be, or not to be?
A friend of mine was born to doctor parents, and whether he or his parents knew it or not, his life from that day forward was set. He too, would become a doctor. And he did. He went to school, he studied hard, he practised, and voila… he became a proud and dedicated member of the UK’s National Health Service. Only many years later, after a personal crisis, he questioned whether medicine was his true purpose and discovered it was not. It turns out that lay in technology – helping to improve patient care through medical apps.
Had my dear friend not had the foresight or the opportunity to re-examine his life, he would have carried on living a life he really wasn’t meant to live.
Find your inner child
Now I know you’re probably wondering how the doctor discovered his true purpose. Well, like mine, his journey wasn’t easy. It took soul-searching, hard work and determination. It wasn’t something he did alone, but his first and momentous step was to rediscover his inner child so that he could work out what it was that made his soul sing, his heart tick. And once he knew his true passion lay in the arts, he banished the thoughts (and the voices of his parents in his head) telling him that his time had passed and that this was something he could not do.
He also worked out that just like happiness, purpose isn’t something you chase. It’s something which comes to you when you are doing something you really want to do, something for ‘you’, nurturing yourself daily with the love and camaraderie of the people you call your tribe.
So, what are you waiting for? The time is now. Look back at your life. Ask yourself whether you’ve done the things you always wanted to do. The things you were born to do. And remember, it’s never too late. Carpe diem!