Cultivating Purpose and Passion in the New Year Back »

Courtesy: Pavla Pelikánová [CC BY-SA 4.0] via Wikimedia Commons


Written by Bethany Stoutamire (Former SDSU Extension Aging in Place Coordinator AmeriCorps VISTA Member) under the direction and review of Leacey E. Brown.

It’s important to have a passion and purpose at every stage of life. Staying physically and mentally active leads to happier and healthier lives. One way to stay active and continue cultivating purpose and passion is through hobbies. However, sometimes it can be difficult to know how we want to spend our time, especially after a big change like retirement or loss of a loved one. In the spirit of the New Year (and new beginnings) here are some ways to get started on living a more passionate and purposeful life.

For Those Who Want To Find Their Passion

If you’re struggling to find something interesting to occupy your time, you can use different questions to point you in the right direction. What is something you enjoy reading about in your spare time? What did you enjoy doing when you were younger? Or perhaps a more discomforting to ask is, what is something your younger self would be disappointed you didn’t accomplish or do?

For Those Looking to Get Their Feet Wet

The author in this article notes that starting a hobby can be a large initial investment. Some people may be nervous about investing a lot of time and energy into a hobby that’s not a good fit for them in the long run. Luckily, however, there are resources available that can make it easier and cheaper to see if something is a good fit for your interests. Here are some below.

  • Check Out Your Local Library.
    Libraries often offer a large range of events. Some libraries offer events ranging from yoga to a cooking club to computer training. Many libraries also have online resources that range from language learning, computer classes, online classes, and genealogy. While some libraries may have different resources then others, here is a list of resources available through all South Dakota libraries.
  • Look at Online Websites and Apps.
    Websites like Khan Academy, Coursera, and CourseBuffet offer online courses ranging from personal finance to film studies. If you’re interested in language learning, there are additional free apps and websites to look into before investing in software, such as Drops, DuoLingo, and Memrise.
  • Become a Member of the Osher Lifelong Learning Instituite.
    OLLI has locations in Sioux Falls, Brookings, Vermillion, and Chamberlain. Older adults can pay a fee for one term or for a year and can than sign up for an unlimited number of classes and events in that time period. Classes can range from one to six sessions and cover a variety of topics from yoga to a history lesson about the Galveston Hurricane (one of the deadliest in history). These classes can help you learn new hobbies like drawing or introduce you to movies or food you never would have tried otherwise. The winter term starts January 8, 2018, so be sure to check it out!

For Those Ready to Dive Right In

Sometimes, starting a new hobby or experience can require a lot of initial emotional and monetary investment. For those who feel up for the task, here are some opportunities for those ready to make that initial leap.

  • Road Scholar
    Previously known as Elderhostel, Road Scholar is a non-profit organization that offers lifelong learning opportunities through travel. They offer trips of a variety of different lengths, costs, and destinations-for some you can even bring your grandchildren. They offer experiences ranging from a five day trip to Nevada to learn about crime scene forensics or a twelve day excursion to Iceland.
  • Become a Master Gardener.
    Do you love gardening and have a passion for giving back to your community? The SDSU Extension Master Gardener Program might be a good fit. For a fee, volunteers receive about 40 hours of training in horticulture and environmental topics of special value to home gardeners. In exchange for their training, SDSU Extension Master Gardeners share their time and knowledge on projects within their communities through a variety of projects. To maintain their status, Master Gardeners must then contribute 20 hours of service and 10 hours of continuing education annually.
  • AmeriCorps VISTA Positions.
    Don’t have much of a green thumb? SDSU Extension has several open AmeriCorps VISTA positions open to individuals of all ages with varying levels of education. AmeriCorps VISTA members will work with SDSU Extension staff to help increase the physical and financial health of South Dakotans to lift them out of poverty. For more general information and resources about volunteering, read Volunteering: More than an act of service.
  • Become a Student Again.
    Do you miss being in a classroom or just want to learn something new? The University of South Dakota, Black Hills State University, and South Dakota State University all offer reduced tuition rates for residents over the age of 65.

We never know how much or how little time we have left. Volunteering, learning, or just sharing special activities with family and friends are all things that can help make this year our best one yet!


Additional Readings & Resources:

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