By Michael McNeill
Using yourself well in service of what you care about is essential to fulfillment in retirement.
My first thoughts about retirement revolved around golf, beach, and more family time—especially with my 12 grandchildren. The essence of my purpose is to contribute to their growth, efficacy, and happiness. And purpose is an expansive tenet—it represents what matters most for me and mine, yes, and because it matters so much, I want it not just for my grandchildren but for all children.
At the moment, I’m on the beach in Tulum, reading and thinking. A recent issue of TIME Magazine has an article entitled “A Humble Solution to Global Depression” about Dr. Dixon Chibanda, a psychiatrist in Zimbabwe who is addressing the critical shortage of mental health practitioners in his country by training grandmothers in problem-solving therapy, role-playing, and empowerment. The grandmothers are perched on “Friendship Benches” where anyone who needs a little loving and/or a sounding board can come spend some time. Dr. Chibanda chose this approach because grandparents are “often best equipped to provide care because they listen and guide their charges toward a solution, unlike other members of the community who tend to direct their patients toward what to do.”
Friendship Benches are scaling globally and are even showing up in New York City. This is a simple and elegant strategy for addressing depression, an escalating problem that destroys young lives and costs the global economy trillions of dollars.
Sitting on the beach, I was also inspired and delighted to read about former president Barack Obama and NBA superstar Steph Curry exhorting minority youth in Oakland to do their bit in making the world a better place. “We had to be able to say to them, ‘you matter, we care about you, we believe in you, and we are going to make sure that you have the opportunities and chances to move forward just like everybody else’,” Obama said. My Brother’s Keeper is an initiative of the Obama Foundation.
I love these ideas for getting young people off to a strong start with the support of their elders. I am also toying with the notion of founding or joining an organization that helps young people who age out of foster care to bridge the transition to healthy adulthood.
Purpose starts at home. It’s about identifying how to best use yourself in service of what you care most deeply about. For me, purpose looks like serving my children and grandchildren—and then touching the lives of as many other children and grandchildren as I possibly can.
I love being able to spend two weeks on a beach watching the pelicans catch fish. It isn’t enough, though. What’s your purpose? And what is the most satisfying next expression of your purpose? I believe that a meaningful life is essential to a fulfilled life.
Find out how LifeReinspired can support your organization or group to make that purposeful next step.