The Importance of Goals Later in Life
By Marty Nemko
Many older people seem to derive pleasure mainly by reminiscing or by waiting for their children to call. That is a formula for unhappiness, for feeling your life is essentially over.
Even if your drive isn’t what it once was, it is critical to create goals for yourself, exciting goals. Even if you don’t achieve them, you’ll probably accomplish quite a bit in the attempt. Plus, you’ll have experienced the excitement of going for something big, and may even start to feel that your best days may still be ahead of you.
Even if you’re not ready to start working toward that big goal, having it in mind will both buoy you as well as provide time to further develop that idea.
To start you thinking, here’s a baker’s dozen of big goals for which being older won’t hurt you, and may even help. Of course, don’t necessarily limit yourself to these:
+ Run for local office: school board, town council, etc.
+ Invent something, for example, a better garden knee pad.
+ Take a group of older people (single- or mixed-gender) on a long bike ride or hike. In the evening, talk about your goals.
+ Set up a local, old-fashioned matchmaking service for older people.
+ Renovate a boat, plane or home.
+ Create a homework hotline, pairing students needing help with other students and adults willing to provide it, by phone, in person, and online.
+ Write an article or even a book. For example, I’m thinking of writing, “An Honest Look at Race in America.” Or I might write a book on how to get a great college education (and a great job) without drowning in debt.
+ Do a public access cable TV show in which you aloud read stories to children or adults. (Few things are as nurturing as being read aloud to.)
+ Create a series of paintings depicting older people doing great things. Show your work at a local bank, restaurant, or theater lobby.
+ Volunteer for SCORE, an organization in which retired executives help people start businesses, or even create your own such enterprise.
+ Write a stand-up comedy routine. Perform it at a local open-mike, or even a Hollywood open mike. Who knows? Maybe you’ll be discovered.
+ Volunteer to work on a scientific research team. Oceanography? Genetics? Whatever moves you. If necessary, start by washing test tubes.
+ Take acting classes. Try out for a community theater play.
Now, apart from any of those ideas, what’s another big goal you could set for yourself? My big goal: Make the National Organization for Men a credible voice for male perspectives, a responsible counterbalance to efforts of heavily publicized women’s organizations such as Catalyst and the National Organization for Women.
Kate Wendleton, founder of the Five O’Clock Club, a national career coaching service, writes, ‘The reality of death can make us get more out of the time we do have…At 40, 50, 60, you will find that you are now using everything you have ever learned in your life.”
Now, more than ever, is the time to set goals, big goals.
© Marty Nemko 2004-2015. Usage Rights