Help pack a million meals for struggling seniors on Sept. 11. Volunteer today

Contests and


most popular


5 Weeks to a New Life: Week 5

Live the Life You Love!

A top expert offers 6 easy tips for finding purpose in your life — and pursuing the retirement of your dreams

Do you ever think that maybe there's more to life than what you have now — but you have no idea of what that might be or how to figure it out?

At this stage of our lives, many of us are asking that very question. Though successful in our relationships or careers, we may feel vaguely unfulfilled and unmoored. Instead of being energized and inspired by the years ahead, we're drained and lethargic — as if someone else is at the controls of our life and we're simply along for the ride. What we're missing, says executive and life coach Richard J. Leider, is purpose.

Join the discussion: What's your life's purpose?

Couple looking toward horizon - what is the purpose of life?

Many boomers search for a new calling after retirement. — Photo by Lightscapes/Corbis

"Every one of us craves meaning in our life," says Leider, author of The Power of Purpose: Find Meaning, Live long, Better. "We search for what will make us happy at each stage of our journey. But we often spend more time planning our vacations than planning our lives. That's where purpose comes in: Your purpose, or calling, is a combination of your skills, passions and values. It's your mission in life and identifying it can provide clues to a more satisfying one.

"When you live a life you love, with people you love, doing the work that you love, you add years to your life and life to your years," says Leider, who offers these six tips for doing so:

Don't let yourself "rust out." That's Leider's term for what happens when we're gridlocked by life's circumstances and don't know how to break free. "If you're spending precious hours feeling half-alive, dragging yourself through tasks you abhor, you're rusting out," warns Leider. "Whenever you're not challenged by your life, whenever you feel like you're just going through the motions, it's time to rethink your purpose."

Push the pause button. Leider often asks his clients what would be the one thing they would change in their lives if they could. Frequently, people say they wished they'd been more reflective. "Too often, we allow the busy-ness of our lives to hijack our sense of purpose," says Leider. "We're so caught up in doing what we have to do, we lose track of what we really want to do."

Ironically, technology designed to connect us pulls us farther apart. In our wired world, there is little time for deep conversation and thought. But living purposefully demands that you focus on what's important.

How do you make that happen? Reboot your operating system by taking a 12-hour media fast. Turn off your cellphone, TV, computer and gadgets. Sit quietly, breathe deeply. Your heart and mind will stop racing and you'll have more time to look inward and consider what is most important to you.

Next: Find what's missing in your life. »

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts


Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.


Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Member Benefits HomeServe

Members can protect their homes with comprehensive repair plans from HomeServe.

grocery coupon center member benefit aarp

Members can print savings coupons at the Grocery Coupon Center powered by

Member Benefits Discounts Angie's List

Members can save 25% to 45% on their Angie's List membership.

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! Members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.