When we are young, we simply respond to whatever life throws at us. In our middle years, we are busy with work and families that we may not have the time or resources to think about our own personal fulfillment. As we grow older, though, we have the opportunity to shape and mold our lives into something we like.
But many people have trouble finding happiness and fulfillment as they age. Some are hindered by social norms that say older adults should rest. Others simply don’t realize that being an older adult can be a time of joy and personal growth.
The good news is that it is entirely possible to lead an exciting and fulfilling life after retirement. In fact, scientists have spent quite a lot of time investigating the relationship between age and happiness, and they have found a positive correlation between the two. A number of these studies have revealed patterns between life satisfaction and age.
One such pattern is the “U-curve,” which shows that happiness generally dips in the middle ages of life and is highest at the beginning and end. The U-curve is consistent across individuals, nations and cultures: happiness declines according to age for about 20 years, starting in early adulthood and continuing through the middle-aged years before turning upwards and increasing with age.
Much of the upturn in the happiness U-curve is the cumulative result of your life experiences. You have developed deeper emotional intelligence and depth. One of the best ways to optimize the upward turn of the U-curve is to age with intention.
What is Aging with Intention?
Retirement usually is the start of the upward bend of the U-curve. People are often unaware of the major lifestyle changes that come with retirement, so many go through a period of trial and error as they search for their new meaning and purpose.
Aging with intention is a concept that helps adults find that purpose and meaning in their lives. It is a mindset that helps shape the everyday activities. Aging with intention creates a path towards self-fulfillment, growth, and expansion of one’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
Focus on Goals as We Age
Dictionary.com defines intention as, “an act or instance of determining mentally upon some action or result.” Aging with intention, then, requires setting goals. Defining intention and setting goals helps create meaning and purpose – goals provide a reason to get up and go every morning. Goals can vary from person to person, and there are no right or wrong goals.
Goals may include:
- Improving health and fitness by walking three days a week
- Communicating with family and friends, even if by video chatting
- Find your own community and building social connections
- Engaging in community service by volunteering at the library or animal shelter
- Boosting quality of life by hiring a housekeeper or enrolling in social programs during the day
Creating goals after retirement may seem overwhelming at first, but it is easier than you might think. To make goal creation easier:
Focus on the purpose:
Clarifying the reason for the activity helps you stay on track
Define your expectations:
While it is important to set goals that are challenging, it is essential that your goals match your abilities to fulfill them; you are more likely to become discouraged and quit activities that are too hard.
Take small steps:
Break down goals into smaller, more manageable objectives
In-Person Event; May 19, 2021
This is just one piece of a larger conversation on aging with intention. We invite you to join us to explore all the facets of aging with intention by attending our in-person event on May 19, 2021. Dr. Julie Masters, PhD will focus on aging with intention and how we can transform our second half of our lives into something that gives us a sense of meaning and purpose. Attending this innovative event can help you find fulfillment for years to come.