I conducted somewhat of a survey a few weeks ago to determine what was most important to women over 50. As someone that experienced the post 50 dilemma of what do I do with my life now that my children are grown and my career is coming to an end, I believed that finding a new purpose was critical to every woman’s fullest life. What I found was not necessarily contrary to that theory, however finding our purpose was not necessarily or directly tangible to the thoughts of most. The women who answered the post with a comment revealed that they were keen to 4 critical: financial independence, freedom of choice, companionship, and unsolicited, good health.
To say I was bummed was an understatement. That was until someone pointed out that these four items are necessary to fulfill one’s purpose and thus, we cannot ignore the critical piece financial independence, freedom of choice, companionship and good health provide in relations to our goals – be it in our 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, and beyond.
As I reviewed the comments over the weeks, I found some interesting outcomes. Collectively, achieving financial independence was the pin to each of the other remaining items on the list. As we discussed together, many agreed that without the ability to be financially independent, there is little opportunity for freedom of choice. Without financial independence, the opportunity to find companionship – marriage or partner – is limited since one is consumed with sustaining financial security. And, without financial independence, either sustaining good health as we age or addressing the financial hardship found in medicinal needs such as medication, procedures, or equipment to sustain life, we cannot move beyond what we can afford.
It was also discovered that there appeared a linear connection between the four as well. When you achieve financial independence, you are available to choose where, how, and when your money goes to support your dreams and goals -your freedom of choice. When you have freedom of choice, you tend to find yourself engaged in more activities be it travel or social networking or community activities where you will be introduced to more and different people who share your likes and your dreams – increased opportunities to find companionship. When you find companionship, the sharing of life, of love, of needs and wants increases the chance of a healthier life together as you team together to support and look out for each other.
So where does purpose or a purpose driven life land with these new and very tangible discoveries?
It lands right where it belongs – in the how. How do you want to become or remain financially independent? How do you want to engage in your choices? Will you do so with action? with conviction? with participation? If you seek it, how will you look to engage in the world to find companionship? to meet that potentially right partner? And how will you engage in a healthy lifestyle that will keep you out of the doctor’s office and in the world, you so enjoy?
Recognizing what you need is critical to knowing how you want to live. When you have reached the age of 50 you have achieved the incredible act of living half a century! Yet you are far from done – if you choose to be.
I’ve always been fascinated by the idea that you live your life in misery with the goal of retirement to live the life you have always wanted…but then discover time is limited. What drives people to work themselves to extinction when living is what they are supposed to do? I remember a boss calling me into his office and telling me, “Ya know – not everyone likes their work, but they find their happiness in their life outside of work.” I walked away unable to wrap my brain around the idea that I was being told that where you spend most of your day, where you will grow and bloom, and where you are supposed to be applying the best of who you are to make a difference is not here – but out there. And that is when I started to understand – you have a choice on how you want to sustain your life, achieve your goals, and engage in the world.
I went out on a date with a guy once and I so wanted to take on his life – what courage I thought to myself. He was in his mid to late 20’s and had been working and traveling the world. He would bartend in one country to make enough money to sightsee and live until he had enough money to move to the next and so on and so on. How freeing that was! I wanted so much for him to take me with him…I wanted so much to take myself away and do what he was so brave to do… but I didn’t, I wouldn’t, I couldn’t.
Why didn’t I? wouldn’t I? couldn’t I?
Well, for one thing, that was scary to me – a woman, on her own, traveling and working without someone with me. Second, I didn’t know yet what I wanted in life and as tempting as running away was, I was afraid if I did, I may miss something right in front of me. And third, thank God I didn’t because had I, I might have missed the marriage, the children, the life that I have and always wanted (I just didn’t want to admit it to myself).
My purpose, my work was to live a life I wanted – to be filled with the love and joy and companionship I wanted. To commit myself to the work of service to my community wherever I was and to build from there the knowledge and experience I have learned along the way to share and help others coming up behind me.
Living my life with purpose, in purpose, and through purpose has provided me with the financial independence that I will need as I journey through the after 50 years. Because of that independence I get to choose the how, the when, and the what that is ahead. And, at least for now I have the love and companionship I seek and flourish in as well as the health I enjoy.
As you seek what you most desire in your post half century, my wish for you is that you discover your how in achieving your purpose, your goals. If you are struggling, reach out to me, tell me, and let’s work together to make your life the life you desire, the life that is right for you.