Research shows that it increases with age—your desire for a sense of purpose, that is.
I see this desire unfolding with my boomer clients who, after 25+ years in a particular profession, want to explore a different path—one with a focus on making a contribution to their community, whether local or global, paid or unpaid.
They seek my help with defining what they have to offer and identifying a meaningful match in the world.
It’s often a particular cause that anchors their quest—something to which they devoted time as a volunteer, one that touched their lives or a loved one’s in a significant way, or even an inexplicable curiosity that persisted through the years.
Take Janice for example. After 28 years in the insurance industry, she longed for an adventure that would take her far from her native New England. But what would she do and how could she make it happen?
I encouraged her to focus on “what”, rather than “how” since the latter often derails a quest if considered too early in the discovery process.
Janice had a longstanding curiosity with orphanages. Her interest seemed out of the blue since she was not an orphan, nor did she know any children who had lost both parents. Yet, she literally had reoccurring dreams of visiting orphanages in some remote part of the world.
Janice decided to finally give this interest some attention. The more she explored, the more she was drawn into the world of foreign orphanages. Eventually, she settled on one in Southeast Asia that accepted volunteers and she made a plan to pursue her calling.
Of course, not all quests for purpose take people to far ends of the Earth.
What’s important is to know that your “purpose quest” is both an inner discovery that addresses the question “What do I have/want to offer?” and an outer exploration that results in an opportunity that meets a need and adds meaning to your life.