Redefining Purpose in your “Freedom Years”

by | May 22, 2024 | Mind


When it comes to our “later years” in life, there has been a societal shift when it comes to how we view ageing, and it’s for the better. Gone are the days when people would consider getting old and retiring, as the beginning of the end. We are living healthier and longer and so, have evolved to become more inclined to view it as a rite of passage that should be embraced and even celebrated. We are now encouraged, and encourage others, to take the opportunity to use the well earned time to focus on our health and fitness, spend our hard earned money (guilt free) and take the time to reflect on what we wish we’d done with our lives and then …. doing it.  We can start new hobbies, visit the places we didn’t get to, challenge ourselves beyond our comfort zones and spend quality time with the people we choose, rather than those we feel obliged to. 

In an interview with Vogue Magazine, Dame Helen Mirren, 78, shared her thoughts on ageing, saying: “Take it on the chin, and roll with it. You die young, or you continue to get older. There is nothing in between! You may as well enjoy it.” Similarly, veteran actress Jane Fonda, 86, shared the same sentiments, describing this chapter in her life as a “Third act” during an interview with Glamour. “When I was about to turn 60, I realised that I was approaching my third act—my final act—and that it wasn’t a dress rehearsal,”

“One of the things that I know for sure is that I don’t want to get to the end of my life with a lot of regrets, so how I live up until the end is what is going to determine whether or not I have regrets.” Fonda notes. At the end of the day, just like everything in life, it’s all a matter of perspective and mindset.

Relish in the freedom to do the things you enjoy 

Arguably, one of the most rewarding aspects of retirement is the freedom that comes with it. Freedom from feeling pressured by others, freedom from feeling tied down to particular things (career, relationships, material possessions, etc.), and even freedom from caring about what other people may think of us. There is nothing quite like the beauty of experience, and when we’ve been around the block a few times, we learn a lot about the things that are truly worth our time and effort. 

As we navigate this life chapter, it’s also important to live it with intention and grace – embracing all the nuances that come with it, and accepting the fact that we’re still learning! 

Making a conscious decision to improve our mental and physical wellbeing later in life, could be one of the most rewarding decisions we ever make. When looking for ways to exercise intentionality and mindfulness, there are a multitude of resources we can reach for online to help get us into the habit of integrating this practice into our everyday life. One of the simplest sites for just this is which offers various meditations and mindful living tips for everyone, regardless of age. Not only can this be beneficial for our mental health in the present, but it also works towards keeping our minds active and alert for the long-run.

Staying curious and engaged has been proven to extend our lives. Be it attending galleries and shows, joining clubs and socialising or taking up a new hobby, staying busy and stimulated has health benefits.  A study carried out in 2022 found that spending time on hobbies was associated with lower symptoms of depression and a perceived increase in a person’s sense of health, happiness and overall life satisfaction. However, taking up a new hobby can be easier said than done for some people. There are a few simple tips to approach this life-enhancing challenge including: broadening your strengths, choosing something that stimulates you so much you lose track of time and imagining your perfect day.

Another advantage of the freedom of time is the opportunity to do the volunteering we’ve so long thought about. When we engage in volunteering and giving back, we are not only helping others, but we are also helping ourselves. Research has shown that volunteering can lower blood pressure, reduce stress levels, and even increase our sense of happiness and overall well-being. Additionally, it can provide a sense of social connection and community, which is especially important as we age and our social networks may change.

Giving back can also provide an opportunity to share our knowledge and skills with others, which can be a great way to stay mentally active and engaged. Whether it’s mentoring, teaching, or simply lending a hand, volunteering can be a powerful way to stay connected and make a positive difference in the world. 

Be proud of your wisdom and nurture your mind

During this stage, we have had the time to reflect on our experiences, both triumphant and challenging, and have distilled our insights into valuable lessons. We have also had the chance to develop our emotional intelligence, learning to navigate the complexities of human relationships, and to cultivate a sense of empathy and compassion. As a result, we are often better equipped to offer sage advice, guidance, and support to others, making us a valuable resource for those around us.

In older age, emotional intelligence helps us to better manage stress, anxiety, and frustration, which can be particularly challenging as we face the challenges of ageing, such as health issues, loss of loved ones, and the uncertainty of the future. By developing emotional intelligence, we can learn to respond to these challenges with greater wisdom, resilience, and compassion. Jane Fonda’s approach to the bad things that invariably happen is to consciously think ‘Well, that’s happened before, and I’m fine. I’ll get over it.’ We have this wisdom now. We know that, as tough as things get, we will get through it. 

Emotional intelligence enables us to form deeper and more meaningful connections with others, which is essential for our mental and emotional well-being. As we age, we may find ourselves having fewer close relationships, but with emotional intelligence, we can still cultivate a sense of community and belonging. This can be especially important for those who may be living alone or experiencing social isolation.

As we age, our brains undergo a natural process of decline, characterised by a gradual reduction in cognitive function and memory. However, research has shown that the rate and extent of this decline can be significantly influenced by the presence of cognitive reserve. Cognitive reserve is the brain’s ability to adapt and compensate for age-related changes, allowing us to maintain our cognitive abilities and delay the onset of age-related cognitive decline.

Think of cognitive reserve as a mental “elasticity” that allows our brains to stretch and flex in response to the demands of a changing environment. It is built through a lifetime of learning, social engagement, and mentally stimulating activities, and is closely tied to our level of education, social interaction, and cognitive stimulation.

Building cognitive reserve is not a single event, but rather a lifelong process. By engaging in mentally stimulating activities, challenging ourselves, and staying connected with others, we can fortify our brains and build a reserve of cognitive strength that can help us stay mentally sharp and resilient even in the face of age-related cognitive decline.


Stay in control– body, and soul

When treated with care, our bodies can do so much more than you think, in spite of your age.

When asked about her thoughts on ageing, Fonda shared her experience in an interview, stating: “When you get older, you realise that staying healthy is joyful and critical because age isn’t so much chronology. You can be very old at 84, which is my age, but you can also be very young.”

Numerous studies have shown that the human body is incredibly resilient, capable of adapting and transforming at any stage of life. From improving cardiovascular health to enhancing cognitive function, our bodies are capable of remarkable feats, regardless of age. The key is to focus on maintaining a healthy lifestyle, engaging in regular exercise, and adopting a balanced diet that nourishes our bodies.

True enough, age really is just a number. However, it is truly up to us on how we choose to treat our bodies as we continue on with this chapter of our lives. Explore new recipes that are healthy and nourishing. Learn new ways to move your body. Beyond this, it’s important to also look at wellness from a holistic point of view. Think, spending time with people who nourish your soul, setting aside time to do things you enjoy, and rediscovering interests that reignite your joie de vivre

Embrace the nuances


Let’s be real –getting old can be less than ideal, sometimes. There’s no denying it! Some days you feel the odd twinge and realise that there’s no stopping time, while on other days, you feel the same as you did when you were in your 40s or even 30s. 

On turning 77, Dolly Parton said “I don’t feel old. I remember my life was in a great spot when I was 35 years old, and I remember at that time thinking, ‘This is a great time in my life.’ So I chose to just kind of think like I’m 35 all the time in my mind. No matter what the numbers say. Numbers lie.”

Our bodies, along with our minds, shift, move, and fluctuate as we explore this chapter of your life. It isn’t the end of the world if some actions or activities aren’t as easy (or even possible) as they used to be!  Instead, it’s important to consider the beauty that comes with these things. Namely, the gift of having the opportunity to slow down. A lot of the time, we get caught up in the constant bustle of everyday life. If you think about it, retirement is the only time in your life where youare allotted the opportunity to take a minute, step back, and just watch as everyone else moves around you.

Conversely, what a great time to stay busy doing the things you want to do, rather than the things you are required to do while raising children and/or going to work. The beauty of this life chapter is finally getting the chance to be extra discerning with your life! You’ve worked hard to be picky and go about things at your own pace. Embrace it!


Working together to change perception

The traditional narrative of ageing has long been one of decline, decay, and diminishment (see the image below). We’ve been conditioned to believe that as we grow older, our physical and mental abilities will slowly unravel, like the threads of a worn tapestry. This outdated notion has led many to view the later years of life as a time of quiet contemplation, where one’s days are filled with the memories of a life well-lived, rather than a time of vibrant exploration and discovery.

This narrative has been perpetuated by the media, with its portrayal of older adults as frail, feeble, and forgetful. It’s a narrative that has been internalised by many, leading to a widespread sense of resignation and acceptance. But, this narrative is not only outdated, it is also inaccurate. Ageing needs to be embraced, not as a one-way ticket to a life of decline, but rather a journey of growth, transformation, and possibility. Look at this image and imagine if this is how you feel at 60-70? Oh and note that the age scale stops there when in fact, the average life expectancy (in Australia) is 85. Disgraceful – 

Many individuals have defied the conventional wisdom of physical decline, achieving remarkable feats in their 70s, 80s, and even 90s. These remarkable individuals serve as a testament to the human body’s incredible capacity for growth, renewal, and transformation, regardless of age. By debunking the myth of physical decline, we can empower ourselves to take control of our health, challenge societal norms, and unlock the full potential of our golden years.

We need to speak up rather than give in to the stereotype. Share your stories, wisdom, and insights with the younger generations, and in return, learn from their fresh perspectives and modern ways of thinking. This is a powerful exchange that can bring joy, fulfilment, and a sense of purpose to our lives. By embracing intergenerational connections, we can break down the barriers that often exist between age groups, and create a sense of belonging and connection that’s essential for our well-being and happiness.

Additionally, we need to support each other. We need to steer our conversations away from ailments and age restrictions and encourage new activities and adventures. We need to pump up each other’s tyres and educate those around us (the media and younger generations) that we may be older but we’re a long way from over.

In conclusion, by embracing the wisdom of our “third act”, we can unlock a new era of personal growth, connection, and fulfilment. As you look to the future, we encourage you to cherish the wisdom that has been gained and to continue to learn, grow, and thrive – and to spread the positivity of the feeling of freedom.


And, what should this phase be called? Let’s keep up the positive momentum and put a label on it. 

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Become a Mover Member today to enjoy tips and tricks on living your best life. Your account will give you free access to amazing recipes which you can save and rate, eating plans and easy to follow workout routines to help you move with confidence.
Just like our Private Facebook Community, we will never share your information with others.


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