Finding Your Place (In This World)

longevity place purpose Mar 15, 2023

On the surface, finding your place can be a straightforward albeit lengthy process. Identify the elements most important to you – such as weather, access to jobs, affordability, proximity to family, etc. – and follow a method to determine the physical place best suited for you. As logical as this approach is, it can be incomplete at best and wrongheaded at worst.

Finding Your Place in This World

For certain life stages, finding your place can be more accurately expressed as “finding your place in this world.” In the age of longevity, finding your place in this world is not a one and done proposition. In fact, it is something faced on a semi-regular basis: graduating from high school, launching into the working world, making a life with a partner and family, transitioning to an empty nest, moving on from a career, managing the aging process and more. 

Beyond the practical steps to identify your physical place, finding your place in this world involves at two additional components: purpose and belonging.


What good is fun in the sun without a sense of purpose & belonging? (Photo by Sky Gallian on Unsplash)  


Mark Twain famously said the two most important days of your life are the day you were born and the day you found out why. While it is hard to argue about the relevance of the first day, the second day is more debatable. Given the various stages of life, there may be a number of days that reveal your life’s purpose at a given moment in time. For one stage, it may be raising and providing for a family; for another, it may be caring for a loved one.

Our sense of purpose is not static.

Research tells us that purpose is one is one of the best predictors of happiness.  In this context, purpose is defined as the sources of meaning that are both goal-oriented and motivated by a desire to make a difference in the world beyond one’s self.

Particularly as one enters more unchartered territory in the second half of life, purpose may need to be intentionally cultivated. Life and retirement coaches and organizations such as Modern Elder Academy and Third Half Advisors provide processes to help uncover purpose. The Purpose Xchange offers free online workshops.

If you’re looking for inspiration, take a look at this video, Matters of the Heart, that has been viewed more than 16 million times.


Being around others doesn't necessarily translate to a greater sense of belonging (Photo by Ryoji Iwata on Unsplash)


Brene Brown, a professor of social work at the University of Houston and bestselling author, is a leading voice on the significance of finding true belonging. She professes that we are born with an innate desire to be part of something larger than us. Because this yearning is so primal, we often try to acquire it by fitting in and by seeking approval, which are not only hollow substitutes for belonging, but often barriers to it. In her words, “Belonging is being accepted for you. Fitting in is being accepted for being like everyone else.”

Studies of people's life regrets find that most regrets involve social relationships and lack of social connectedness, supporting the idea of the fundamental 'need to belong' as part of our evolved nature.

Belonging can be elusive because people and places change. You can live in one home and have a strong sense of belonging. But, over time, circumstances can change: some friends move, other friendships fizzle. Buildings that provided emotional attachment can be replaced with structures that offer none. A high degree of change can make a long-time resident feel like a stranger in his own place.


Lean into Finding Your Place in this World, Not Just Your Physical Place

Fortunately, there are an increasingly number of resources and tools to help find your place (I would be remiss to not mention my book, Right Place, Right Time, and content and tools on the, including the Right Place Assessment). However, lists such as best places to live or best places to retire have limited value if they are not thoughtfully applied to your life circumstance.  

Take the effort to process where you are not just physically but psychologically and emotionally. Without such reflection, you may relocate to a new place yet be rudderless and unmoored and in need of restarting the process to truly find your right place in this world.


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