We’ve all heard how important it is to continue to feel purposeful once you’ve stopped working. But did you know that a sense of purpose could add years to your life? A recent Everyday Health article (“How to Live a Purposeful Life After Retirement,” December 2015) discussed the results of a recent study, published in Psychological Science, which concluded that having purpose in life might promote longevity.

Conducted by researchers from Carleton University in Ontario and the University of Rochester in New York, the study tracked the physical and mental health of more than 7,000 adults ages 20 to 75 for 14 years. People who felt they had a purpose outlived those who did not. Experts suggest that being grateful for what you have, as well as giving yourself things to look forward to, is the key to living a purposeful (and hopefully long) life. Some suggestions for how you can continue to be fulfilled once you enter retirement are:

  • Get moving. Join a gym or make workout dates with friends. Better physical and mental health are associated with even the lowest levels of exercise.
  • Get politically involved. Retirement is a good time to attend city council meetings or work on campaigns that you feel strongly about.
  • Keep yourself intellectually active
    • Many colleges and universities allow seniors to audit courses for no charge. And you can always take courses online.
    • Immerse yourself in culture to learn new things and enjoy museums, galleries and science centers.
    • Try something new, whether it’s learning a language or traveling to another country


Volunteering is also a great way to remain purposeful once you retire. A recent U.S. News article (“7 Reasons to Volunteer in Retirement,” November 2015) explored why retirees are especially suited to giving back:

  • Retirees have more free time than those who are still working.
  • Volunteerism is an excellent way to make the social connections that many retirees miss once they no longer go in to work every day.
  • The emotional and mental benefits of volunteering are especially strong for those in retirement. About 70 percent of retirees consider “being generous” a significant source of happiness, and many report that helping others financially makes them happier than spending money on themselves.


Being fulfilled, making a difference and feeling useful don’t have to end once you say goodbye to the office.