As a modern elder, don’t snuff out your passion

We’ve heard about baby boomers and Generation X, but Chip Conley, the cofounder and CEO of Modern Elder Academy, coined a new term for seasoned citizens who still want to pursue their passion. He calls them “modern elders.”

All older adults have wisdom to share, Conley noted, but often their contributions aren’t valued, an article in Forbes explained.

“In today’s tech-savvy working world, ageism is rampant. An AARP survey revealed that over three-quarters of older workers have experienced age-related discrimination,” the article added.

Chip shared 14 ways modern elders can connect with their life purpose in midlife and beyond. Here are a five of them:

1. View purpose as a verb rather than a noun.

“We’ve all heard people say, “I can’t find my purpose,” as if it’s a backpack they left in a roadside gas station bathroom,” Chip explained. “As a noun, purpose is something you possess. It is a valued asset in your grasp that you can show to others. As a verb, it’s a deliberate and conscious way of being.”

As a verb, purpose implies active action. So take it!

2. Think about your regrets.

We have all regretted doing — or not doing — something in our lives. But, Chip asks modern elders to think of something they wish they had known or done 10 years ago. Then, think about what you’ll regret 10 years from now if you don’t do it as soon as possible.

For me, it’s building a recurring income. Although I had expected my former business as a journalist covering the RV industry to provide income well into my 70s, I failed to develop more income streams when I was younger.

Often something you regret doing or not doing can become a purpose to either rectify the mistake or help others to avoid making the same one.

3. Consider your gift.

Chip noted the meaning of life is to find your gift and the purpose of life is to give it away. With that in mind, he encourages people to think of five pieces of proprietary (unique to them) sage advice they could offer to a young person.

That type of counseling can become a very effective purpose because it actively involves others and it can make a tremendous impact on someone else’s life.

It’s much better, he explained, if the wisdom was hard-earned though tough lessons learned in life or through extensive study. I’d agree that society has way too many “gurus” who simply read a book and now consider themselves to be experts in a particular field. We see that on social media all the time.

4. Focus on service.

We’ve been saying that purpose must be focused on serving others since the inception of Forward From 50. Without the ability to serve someone else, whatever it is you’re doing or thinking about doing is little more than a hobby.

“Find a purpose project that will live far beyond your years,” said Chip. “Then commit yourself to planting your seed of wisdom into a fertile ground of younger people with no sense of pride or ego in wanting recognition for your contribution.”

That’s great advice. Harry S. Truman said it best when he noted, “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.”

Even if you don’t get personal credit for something, God knows and you’ll be greatly rewarded.

5. Explore the parts of your life that feel “unlived.”

Amen. Too often, there is a passion we’ve been contemplating for years, often since childhood. For whatever reason, we push stop feeding it until it’s little more than a smoldering desire. But, it’s still smoldering so it isn’t dead yet.

In Isaiah 42:3, the Bible promises this about God: “A bruised reed he will not break,and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.” If God gave you a purpose and it has been burning inside you all this time, don’t you dare snuff it out!

If you embrace that purpose with passion instead, then you are very likely going to come alive with renewed hope, enthusiasm and passion.

Chip’s other nine suggestions are available at