A major area of concern for elderly people particularly after their formal retirement is that they often lose “purpose of life.” Gone are the days when they were busy and used to get ready for office after getting up in morning. Similarly, mothers who were housemakers were also busy in helping their spouses or children in getting ready for office / school / college. All this busy schedule used to bring a lot of meaning in life thus propelling to move on.
However, after retirement things suddenly change dramatically as seniors often find as if they have nothing to do and thus start leading life idly “without a purpose.” Same is the case with mothers after children become independent.
Retired life thus becomes a passive way of spending time aimlessly either withdrawing or spending unlimited time in trivial things like seeing movies, sleeping for hours, or entering into unnecessary arguments at home, etc.
Finding Purpose of Life:
To overcome the above, finding purpose of life is of fundamental importance; our goals and actions are driven by our purpose. Unravelling purpose of life thus helps us in leading a happy and active life. Whether we contribute directly to GDP through work / social service or lead a happy life of wisdom sharing goodwill with community will depend on our purpose of life even after our retirement.
Having found the purpose is, however, the first step. That will determine the goal. As Stephen Covey says, “Begin with the End in Mind.” Once you are sure of the destination, journey can be formatted properly. For example, if you decide that you will devote your next 5 to 10 years towards social work, you will start exploring opportunities. Or if you think you would learn a foreign language like Spanish or French you wanted to do while you were young, you may start looking at options.
7 Steps to an Active Retired Life with Purpose:
After determining purpose of life, let us start living life accordingly. But nothing can be achieved unless we lead an active life.
Here are the 7 steps to remain active after retirement:
1. Leading a disciplined life with compartmentalization of duties and work. A minimum 8 hours of sleep, 30 minutes of exercise for 4 to 5 times a week, 15 to 20 minutes of walk per day, proper medication (as prescribed by the doctor) lead to an active physical life. This is beginning of journey of active life as good health is crucial for any subsequent activity.
2. Keeping mind de-stressed and in a reflexive mode. Mind controls all our actions and therefore, a de-stressed mind will keep our body and mood happy. One of the most popular ways is to meditate at least for 30 minutes a day. What it does is to bring us in alignment with our thoughts and mind thus becomes at ease.
3. Preforming the act that has driven purpose in our life at least for 2 to 3 hours a day. If we have chosen social work, let us work off-line or on-line in social work like teaching deprived students, tutoring children in slums, working with seniors in distress, or doing any other social activity that we like.
4. Spending time with family / extended family. It can be with spouse, children or grandchildren; it can be children of others in your society; it can also be in companion with friends, clubs or communities. These play a very important role through developing bondage with like-minded people. It also helps in giving an opportunity to express our views.
5. Spending some time with self. This gives us moments to pause, reflect, and plan for future. Idea is not to spend this time remembering past or regretting what we could not achieve. Purpose is that being with self alone with help us see ourselves and plan for future.
6. Enjoy some leisurely time in the day, may be watching a movie or reading a book, solving a puzzle or even spending time on a new hobby like painting or singing classical songs or acting. Objective is simply to enjoy life.
7. Be sometime with GOD!! That will reveal real purpose of life, living and existence of all of us.
In conclusion, one can say that leading an active retried life with a purpose is the key to an elderly person living a happy and contented life. The 7 steps suggested are indicative in nature. An elderly person needs to plan daily routine depending on his / her passion, liking and nature of purpose.
Dr A K Sen Gupta is Co-Founder and Chief Trustee of My Retired Life Foundation (MRLF). He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 9821128103.