I was at a dinner party with some boomer friends this weekend and we got to talking about returning veterans and their needs. I had heard a great segment on Dan Rodricks’ show (WYPR) (http://www.wypr.org/stationprogram/midday-dan-rodricks Thurs 11/10/11 6th Branch) about a local Baltimore nonprofit called “the 6th Branch.” They help local veterans regain a sense of leadership and community by involving them in community projects –problems being solved with a team of other veterans. These projects give the vets a mission as they reintegrate into civilian life and start to create the relationships and networks they need to find community, jobs and friendships. One of the panelists was a psychologist who works with vets with PTSD and he confirmed the importance of finding a sense of purpose in recovery from their combat experience.
There was a silence at the table, before one of my dinner companions reflected “we all need a sense of purpose.”
Many of us close-to-retirement or recently retired folks are grappling with this “what will I do when i grow up” question. Some of us fear leaving our jobs, because we fear losing our purpose. Others of us rush out into the Oz of retirement and then feel a twinge of loss for the roles we played.
For younger folks, raising families, striving for advancement, purpose is defined by career or family. As our family responsibilities lighten and we leave our jobs, we’re free to define our purpose. How have you defined yours? What are the stumbling blocks that get in your way?