This topic, what is our sense of purpose, struck me after reading a circular from the person who trained me as a coach 14 years ago! It said “lots of people I’ve encountered have been so busy trying to achieve wealth status and security that they’ve confused this with a real sense of purpose. Purpose always involves something bigger than yourself”
I agree with some of this but not all, here are my thoughts;
Up to aged 20 – I suppose it is about finding yourself and passing exams/driving test/ seeing where you want to go in life?
20s – It is about finding the right career (I know a good career coach!) and enjoying yourself
30s – After hopefully finding the right partner, building the family and buying your first property (a lot later than in my time!)
40s – paying for what you started in your 30s and probably focusing on children and probably being the best chauffeur in the world!
50s – Now it starts to get interesting. Are you still in the career you began in? Do you want to do something totally different? Do you now have more time to think and consider other options or you might have to owing to redundancy (does the Age discrimination Act really work!)
This was the decade in which I was made redundant 3 times. After the third redundancy, my sense of purpose was getting to know my young daughters again, Georgia my 4-year-old didn’t really know who I was. Working away from home during the week and then effectively being dispensed with, I was convinced that I wanted a local job where I was in control of my own destiny, and could pick the girls up from school in the afternoon.
60s – Is this the time you have more time to think and work out what your real sense of purpose is as per the definition of my trainer above. From my memory of Maslow’s theory, this is the era of self actualisation? It all sounds very grand but as we get older and have time on our hands it is important to have a sense of purpose each day to make it worthwhile getting out of bed every morning
Guys good at golf can sometimes swap their work life and be on the golf course 4 or 5 times a week getting social interaction at the same time. But what about those people who are rubbish at golf, what do they do? In my retirement coaching I use a retirement wheel, which starts to identify for people what they really like doing and might point them in the right direction for the remainder of their life (it might be the remaining third of their life which could be quite a long time!)
So, going back to the opening statement it is fine for those people who have really made it in life and have money to spend on having someone to do everything for them to say “I am going to change the world!”. But for most people this isn’t reality but at the same time having a purpose is crucial in our everyday living.
If you know of anybody who would like a copy of my business/retirement questionnaire, or would like a two hour session to explore what their sense of purpose is, whatever their age, please get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org and we can bounce the topic around.