As a self-employed writer, I’ve joked that my retirement plan is ‘Freedom 95’. For those of you who are too young to get the reference, years ago, ‘Freedom 55’ was the tagline of a campaign advertising London Life’s retirement savings plan products.
But while it’s true that like many people with no formal pension plan, I may have to work past conventional retirement age, I can’t imagine giving up writing. Not only is it an integral part of who I am, I’m fascinated by the things I learn when diving into the background research for a new story topic.
Then there’s the enthusiasm that many of the people I interview have for their chosen areas of study, which is infectious, and invigorating. Finally, comments from readers, saying that a story has helped them in some way keep me going. For instance, at least two people have written to say that an article alerted them to the fact certain skin changes could potentially be signs of cancer, leading to early diagnosis, and successful treatment.
That kind of purpose, it turns out, is one of the keys to maintaining physical and mental health as we age. And if you get that from your work, you may feel something missing once the novelty of retirement wears off.
So where can you find passion and purpose? The answer is different for everyone. Two retirees and three experts shared their thoughts on the subject with me for my latest wellness feature for Good Times magazine: Rediscovering Passion and Purpose.
Thank-you to everyone who so kindly shared their time and expertise: Lyndsay Green sociologist and author of The Well-Lived Life: Live With Purpose and Be Remembered; Helen Hirsch Spence, CEO of the social enterprise Top Sixty Over Sixty; Allison O’Connor, founder of Dreams Come True Music Studio in London, ON; Eunice Stepak, originating member of the Arts Society of Greater Toronto; and Dr. Deborah K. Van den Hoonard, professor emerita at St. Thomas University in Fredericton, NB, and social science editor of the Canadian Journal on Aging.