4 Ways Empty Nesters Can Live Full Lives

by Margaret Manning

By the time we reach our 60s, we have had the house to ourselves for a while. But, this doesn’t mean that we have recovered from being empty nesters.

While the emotional sting of watching our kids leave the house and start their own lives fades quickly, the process of reinventing ourselves and finding meaning in our lives is much slower.

Through my conversations with hundreds of baby boomers, I can say that the decisions that you make in your 60s set the tone for the rest of your life. As a result, it is critical to invest in yourself now to ensure that your later years are filled with the health, wealth and happiness that you deserve.

Here are 4 ways that empty nesters can live full lives.

Take a Step Back and Evaluate Your Priorities

When our kids are still in the house, our lives have a single mission. We may complain about not having enough time to ourselves, but, most of us secretly enjoy the structure that family life provides.

The first step to living a full life after 60 is to decide what is really important to you. Are there passions that you left on the back-burner while you were raising your kids? Do the people in your life make you truly happy? Are you satisfied with your contribution to the world? These are just a few of the life-changing questions that every person in their 60s should ask.

Don’t leave this process to chance. If you are struggling to find time for self-reflection, book a short trip, where you can free your mind and focus on your priorities. Force yourself to sit down, once a month, to evaluate whether your life is on track. Share your dreams, no matter how unusual or unrealistic, with the most important people in your life.

Get in the Best Shape of Your Life

Everyone talks about investing in your financial future in your 60s. Very few people talk about the importance of investing in your body. This is unfortunate, because getting in amazing shape is, by far, the best thing that you can do to get the most from life after 60.

Embracing fitness after 60 will help you to look better, boosting your self-esteem and improving your social life. It will give you the strength and energy to explore the world on your own terms. Getting in shape can boost your happiness. It can even keep your brain healthy as you age.

If someone invented a magic pill that could do all of these things, there would be lines around the block to buy it. So, why is it that we are so reluctant to take the free option?

Don’t leave your health and happiness to chance. Start running in 1 minute a day. Join a hiking club. Force yourself to sit less and move more. With your kids out of the house, there are no more excuses. Your body is in your hands.


Reconnect with Your Passions

Life as a parent is tough. Between work and family commitments, we seldom have time to focus on our own passions. When we reach our 60s, we suddenly have more freedom, but, many of us have forgotten how to use it.

Life after 60 should be a time for exploring your passions. Are there any activities that you loved as a kid that you abandoned as your life got busier? What sports, hobbies or activities fascinate you? What places in the world have you always wanted to visit?

One of the hardest things about being an empty nester is that all of our family-based excuses suddenly disappear. When we are raising our kids, we can justify to ourselves and others that we are not following our dreams because we don’t have time. This is no longer the case.

While it’s true that most of us are still working, we have time to accomplish anything that we put our minds to. The sooner you get started, the better.


Find New Ways to Satisfy Your Need to Be Needed

Watching your kids build their own lives is bitter-sweet for parents. On a conscious level, we are deeply proud of our children’s accomplishments. We celebrate their successes and cheer them on. On the other hand, we subconsciously miss being needed.

One of the most important steps to finding happiness in your 60s is looking for alternative sources of meaning in your life. Do you have an interest in mentoring kids in your city? Do you have a passion that you want to blog about? Is there a volunteer opportunity that you have always been interested in trying out?

Don’t reject your need to be needed or see it as a sign of weakness. We are all deeply social creatures. Embrace your desire to do good in the world. The more others need you, the better you will feel about yourself.

The transition that occurs after our kids leave the house is one the most difficult we must face. At the same time, becoming an empty nester offers us the opportunity to reinvent ourselves. Doing so requires us to take a step back and ask ourselves the tough questions. When we do, we will discover that our lives are just beginning.

Now is the time to explore our passions, give back to the world and invest in our health and happiness. When we do, the future will be bright indeed.

How did your kids leaving the house impact you emotionally? Do you agree that the effects of becoming an empty nester are much broader than the initial “shock” that most people talk about? What advice would you give to the other people in our community about getting more from life after 60? Please join the conversation.

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