When a person sets goals that are especially meaningful, he or she experiences a sense of mission.  A mission is always in tune with one’s values and interests and gives opportunity for those to be expressed in many ways.  A sense of mission in retirement adds an essence and quality of life, the value of which is beyond measure.

As you take steps to design your life in retirement, you may discover that your thoughts turn to deeper issues.  Many consider retirement to be a time to explore their potential. Though a nebulous concept, for some this may mean “fulfilling my purpose,” “finding and expressing my uniqueness,” “making a difference,” “having a mission,” or “leaving a legacy.”  Individuals often respond to this desire for a higher purpose in the following ways:  creativity, contribution, generativity, and spirituality.


Many have a creative spirit and long to demonstrate it in some way.  They want to express their unique set of interests, skills, and values in a way that defines who they are as a person.  In the classic sense, creativity refers to artistic pursuits like painting, dancing, writing, and so on.  But creativity can also be expressed in many other ways. Think of creativity as your uniqueness in the way you serve others, solve problems, develop a business, conceptualize a project, or lead an organization.  In addition, creativity can be expressed by taking old ideas and putting them together in some unique way for the first time, by building something new that never existed before, or by solving a problem in a revolutionary way.


Many have a strong desire to “give to others.”  They feel blessed and want to repay society for that which they have received.  They may call this a “debt of gratitude.” Others say they “want to make a difference.”  Either way, they see strong needs in the world and want to respond in some way.  Some individuals fulfill their desire for contribution through volunteer service and others through philanthropy.


Generativity is the desire to make the world a better place for younger generations.  The practice of generativity can be focused on your children, grandchildren, godchildren, the youth in your community, new recruits at work, or the children of the world—the scope of your activities can be narrow or very broad.  These opportunities include quality time spent with children and grandchildren, mentoring youth and young adults, supporting youth organizations, and volunteering at schools.

Generativity also involves the desire to leave a legacy.  Legacy is often thought of as an inheritance.  But it can be much more than that.  It can be a sum of money that is designated for some special purpose to help younger generations.  And more importantly, it means passing down to the next generation your values and your stories—the knowledge of who you are as a person and your special contributions.  In addition, the concept of legacy includes being a role model for finding success, satisfaction, and fulfillment in life.


Spirituality is nurturing your soul and seeking wisdom and inner peace.  Some express their spirituality through worship, prayer, and studying the tenets of their chosen faith. Other individuals feel a closer connection to a power greater than themselves when they commune with nature.  For many, their spiritual journey gives them great guidance, comfort, and joy.

Reprinted by permission of Money Quotient, NP

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