Cynicism, compassion fatigue and lethargy can make it difficult to find a cause as you age. How to find one anyway:
• What’s happening in the lives of your family members and friends? Cancer, learning disabilities, addiction, poverty? Get involved with a local or national organization that focuses on eradicating the diseases, injustices and suffering you’ve experienced or witnessed in your life.
• Did you abandon a cause earlier in your life that feels unfinished? Try again.
• Say yes. To the lecture at the university, the town council meeting, the water quality symposium. You’ll hear about causes in need of crusaders at most public meetings and community gatherings.
• Make sure there’s something in it for you. People stick with causes if they get something out of it personally. Just saving the world isn’t enough. Find a cause that comes with a few perks. Free travel or classes, for instance.
• Keep trying. “The best route is to identify a core interest, pursue it, and don’t be afraid to try other causes if the first ones don’t work out,” advises aging expert Karl Pillemer. “Many retirees are asked to serve on boards of directors, but (they) sometimes gravitate instead to the actual work with people – be it serving food in a soup kitchen, tutoring children, or working on a political campaign.”