A Purpose Driven Life: What Gets You Up In The Morning?Submitted by S. F. Ehrlich Associates, Inc. on January 3rd, 2017
January 3, 2017
As every client, prospect, friend, the Shop-Rite fishmonger, and my spouse can all attest, I think it’s important to discuss what people are going to do in retirement. (I know what they’re not going to do: work...but what are they going to do.) Some tell me they don’t need my help (e.g., my spouse), while others tell me they’re going to continue selling fish for a living (e.g., the fishmonger).
Aside from my lingering worry that it’s important for retirees to have a reason to get up each morning, new research on a purpose-driven life reveals that a reason to get up each morning offers surprising protection from a disease that terrifies older Americans: Alzheimer’s. According to an article in The Star-Ledger1, “People who describe themselves as lacking a clear purpose in life are more likely to suffer cognitive decline and develop Alzheimer’s disease, recent research shows.”
In Japan, where the elderly are revered, they call it ikigai, “a term loosely translated as a reason to get out of bed…Studies show sense of purpose holds steady in Japan, but declines in the US as we age.”
So what happens to us after retirement? How mentally and physical sedentary do we become? The Star-Ledger quotes researchers from the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago: “More social activity, more physical activities, high purpose in life - all these psychosocial factors seem to be linked with longer life, decreased mortality (and) decreased disability…On a personal level, all of us can ask ourselves if we still feel driven by some sense of purpose.”
According to the article, researchers offer the following for helping to find renewed purpose in our later years:
- Volunteering: “Donating your time and talent to a nonprofit organization or service group is one of the best ways to recapture what kept you socially active and mentally challenged during your work years.”
- Take up a cause: “Get involved in politics or issues like protecting the environment, or preserving Social Security, or addressing hunger, or human rights or homelessness.”
- Get active in your church: “…studies show people who are active in their faith and attend services once a week are less likely to experience cognitive decline.”
- Launch an encore career: “For some people who have accumulated skills in one area of life and always been passionate about something else, they can re-engineer those skills to deploy in that new area.”
Whether you’re retired or not, what gets you up in the morning?