Finding Your "Greater Purpose" After 50

being present habits self-care Feb 24, 2024

At the beginning of each year, I send out a survey to the Life Balance Community about what you'd like to see more content on.    What you need help with.

I went back to take a look at the list as I went to write a new blog post and a topic that came up several times was that of finding your greater purpose once you were retired and your kids were grown and flown.

I sat down to think about this one.   And the first thing I did was look up the "official" meaning of greater purpose.  I was unable to find a dictionary definition for this, but the search kept leading me to the words:  higher purpose.  This is defined as:  "a more meaningful reason to live, work, etc."

I briefly considered what exactly "etc." might represent in that definition.  I imagine it can represent whatever is a value or priority for its reader.

I then went on to look up the definition for the word "meaningful."  It is:  "full of meaning, significance, purpose, or value."

What Does This Mean in the Life Balance After 50 Community?

This community is filled with women who often come to the table with negative core beliefs that can affect our thoughts and trickle down to affect our actions. These core beliefs affect how we carry ourselves through our days.

I would venture to guess that the number one negative core belief held in this community is that of "whatever I do needs to be perfect or I shouldn't do it."    

Perfectionism.   Nothing we do is ever quite good enough.

So, as we consider redefinition or "finding our greater purpose" on this side of 50, are we telling ourselves that what we've done up until now has no greater purpose?  That these children we've raised who are now raising the next generation didn't satisfy a "greater purpose?"

That the dogs I've rescued along the way wasn't considered a "greater purpose?"

That our jobs or careers, didn't satisfy a "greater purpose?"   In some way, regardless of what your job is/was, you helped people.   Is that not a greater purpose?

Take a Moment to Consider What Might Be Meaningful for You at This Stage of the Game

What Does "Success" Mean to You After 50?

I would venture to say that those two words (meaningful and success) are represented very differently in your life than they were when you were in your 20s or 30s.  Although our values don't tend to change considerably, our priorities can change, depending on where we are in our lives. 

The word success is represented very differently for each of us, depending on where we've been and where we are in our journey.   This community has women who:

  • are retired or empty nesters, or both;
  • are working full or part time;
  • are caretaking for parents, children, grandchildren full or part time.

For me, a successful day now includes things like healthy eating, walking, creating content, spending time with family, and being outdoors.   It continues to include being available to help family.  

It also means that I follow through on what I say I'm going to do and be where I say I will be.   However, I'm much more discriminating about what I commit to these days!

I often have to remind myself that saying no when I don't want to do something represents success.   In my 20s and 30s and even 40s, I rarely said no.   I overcommitted and exhausted myself.   In the name of pleasing others and "being successful."

It's taken some getting used to for me to accept that a successful day might be one where I "did nothing but" walked, read, and picked up a grandchild from school.   I have to reframe those judgmental thoughts around those activities being unimportant.  But I'm getting there, slowly but surely.  

Really consider this question.   Journal on it.  What does the word "success" mean to you?   How is it represented in your life?   What are your thoughts and feelings around it?


What Is Meaningful to You Now?  Today?

Likewise, think about how you define the word "meaningful"  as it applies in your life now.    For me lately it has turned into being present, enjoying the moment, the cup of coffee, the book, the people that I'm with in that moment.    Nothing more.  These things may not seem huge, but if they are things that make you happy, they are huge.  Engaging in presence is appreciated by my family and by me.   Even more so than if I'd performed some major feat.

One of my favorite quotes comes from Kurt Vonnegut — '"Enjoy the little things in life because one day you`ll look back and realize they were the big things."

I'm at that stage.   I watch all of the young moms in my life trying to juggle it all and stressing and I just want to tell them to enjoy this time.  Because you WILL look back on it and wonder where it went.  And you may regret missing the moments of joy by engaging in worry and not being present in where you are right now.

Consider the Down Sides to Constantly Looking for a Greater Purpose

It bears repeating:  we need to have some idea of what that might look like for us before we just go searching.   Some idea of what we want to be represented in our day.   Of how we want to carry ourselves.

Otherwise, the search for greater purpose will be an ongoing disappointment.

During which time, we will have continued to miss countless opportunities to experience true joy in the moments in our day.

If you are one in this community who is searching for your greater purpose after 50, please give real thought to why you don't think you've lived life with a greater purpose up until now.   Why you don't think what you've done and continue to do in your life serves a greater purpose?

We often have accomplished so much more in our lives than we give ourselves credit for.