Living a Life of Purpose

finding meaning in what you do is essential at every age and stage

Jennifer Speckien

It probably goes without saying that having and living a life with purpose is something we all desire. Adults regularly ask children “what do you want to be when you grow up?” which typically brings forth a wide range of responses. The point, though, is that from a very young age we are always dreaming and striving to figure out our life’s purpose. As we grow up and move through the stages of life, that purpose changes and at times, may get lost. Studies show that people who feel they are contributing towards a higher purpose tend to have a healthier outlook on life and are able to manage stress better.

Many times we hear from individuals who are searching for a higher purpose after retirement. Individuals are looking for something meaningful and enjoyable to do to continue contributing to their community as they likely did will in the paid workforce. Some wish to use the skills they acquired while working in a new way and others are looking to learn new skills. No matter what it is that you are wishing to do, there is a very high likelihood that organizations in the community are looking for volunteers and mentors with the skill set you have or wish to acquire.

Every single day in America, 10,000 individuals turn 65 years old. Every single day. The number of individuals choosing to retire and exit the workforce is increasing every year. Opportunities for those in retirement to fulfill a higher purpose are plentiful. At the Aging & Disability Resource Center, for example, we have a very wide array of volunteer opportunities. People are often surprised by how many different volunteer roles our agency has to offer. Not only do we have a wide array of volunteer roles, but we also rely heavily on volunteers to achieve our mission. In 2016, volunteers contributed nearly 14,000 hours of assistance to the ADRC doing things like leading health promotion workshops, delivering Meals on Wheels, assisting with Medicare open enrollment, and more.

Whatever stage you may be at in your life, there is always someway to contribute your strengths, skills and abilities to a higher purpose. If you are feeling stuck or unsure about what that purpose may be, take the time to reflect on what brings you joy in life. Talk with your family members and friends; sometimes others can help us see those skills when we are struggling to see them ourselves. From there, take action. You can always change course along the way. The hardest step to take is usually the first. 

Jennifer Speckien is director of the Aging & Disability Resource Center of Eau Claire County.


Eau Claire County ADRC
721 Oxford Ave., Room 1130,
Eau Claire, WI 54703
(715) 839-4735

Dunn County ADRC
3001 U.S. Highway 12 East, Suite 160
Menomonie, WI 54751
(715) 232-4006

Chippewa County ADRC
711 N. Bridge St., Room 118
Chippewa Falls, WI 54729
(715) 726-7777

Statewide Information
(from the state Department of Health Services)