Setting Goals Will Extend Your Life

By on June 13, 2014

Healthy at 90

Having goals, living with purpose, and being optimistic has been linked with healthy aging across the globe.

“To show that purpose predicts longer lives for younger and older adults alike is pretty interesting, and underscores the power of the construct. Our findings point to the fact that finding a direction for life, and setting overarching goals for what you want to achieve can help you actually live longer, regardless of when you find your purpose.” said co-researcher Nicholas Turiano, of the University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester in New York.

Dr. Turiano’s findings are published in Psychological Science. His team followed more than 6000 participants aged 20 to 75 years. They assessed each individuals sense of purpose and followed up 14 years later. What they found is that the individuals who had answered with greater life purpose and optimism had outlived those that were pessimistic.

That’s Easy I will Keep Working

I hear so many people say, “If I quit working I know I will go downhill.” It’s interesting to note that the study specifically found that whether or not a person had retired from work was irrelevant. If you think your purpose lies in your past you are wrong. If you think you’ve lived too many years to find that purpose you are again wrong. Remember that Julia Childs was 36 years old when she learned to cook. That’s right. She wasn’t 36 when she perfectd her Boeuf Bourguignon, she was 36 when she STARTED cooking.

Dr Patrick Hill of Carleton University noted, “Our findings point to the fact that finding a direction for life, and setting overarching goals for what you want to achieve can help you actually live longer, regardless of when you find your purpose”

How to Reignite a Lost Sense of Purpose

On the wall of our home we have several paintings. One of them a hand painted quote by Mary Oliver, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” Your purpose need not be something grand. It just needs to be something. Perhaps you could start small. “Be more mindful” for example. Then create steps to help you be more mindful.

1. No electronics at dinner.
2. Connect with nature for 30 minutes per week.
3. Practice yoga once per week.

Just like any life change, your changes need to be sustainable. Something that you can stick to for life. You might also want to check out:

Common themes among people who have found their purpose.

6 powerful exercises to help you find your life’s purpose.

Starting over with a new purpose.

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