Future goals and aspirations

When we asked people about their hopes and goals for the future, there was a very diverse range of responses. The most common aspirations for the future centred around health, family, philanthropy and personal development.

Remaining healthy and independent were two of the main goals mentioned by participants. Several people said they wanted to live for another 10 years or until they reached 100, as long as they were in good health and not a burden on anybody. Staying active and productive were important aspects of a healthy life.

Colleen’s goals are to keep healthy and enjoy every day.

Brian X believes you can control your own destiny to a large extent. He hopes to stay healthy and not be a burden on anyone.

Elaine H hopes that she can keep her memory and live to a ripe old age.

For people who had health problems, getting their health back on track was their main goal. Others hoped for a quick and painless death, and that they would be able to remain in their own home to that point (see Housing.

Robyn has renewed hopes for her health and is looking forward to swimming in the pool, playing with her grandchildren and enjoying life.

Family featured strongly in people’s hopes and aspirations, particularly grandchildren. This ranged from having new grandchildren, watching them grow and develop their talents, to teaching them religious and spiritual beliefs. Guymun and Elaine M both looked forward to their grandchildren looking after them in their older years. People also spoke about the hopes they had for their children – that they would get married or that they could spend more quality time with them.

Rebecca hopes her children will get married and she will become a grandma. She feels her life will be fulfilled when she holds her grandchild.

In their older years, people wanted to give something back to the community and this often involved helping children. This could be volunteering to help sick, disabled or disadvantaged children or providing scholarships and better opportunities for bright children. Others hoped for more widespread change, such as an end to war.

Tamara hopes she can stay well so she can continue to send packages to the orphans in Ukraine.

Sabihe hopes to see an end to senseless wars. She is glad she has volunteered at a Children’s Hospital where she helped to make sick children happy.

While she does not hope for world peace, Lan believes she can do little things to help the people around her, and in doing so she receives great benefit.

A few men we spoke with took a more pessimistic view and said they had no hopes for the future. Denis felt that you lose ambition as part of the ageing process. Other people tended to not look too far into the future and instead had short-term goals for the weeks and months ahead.

Hans does not think about the future because he feels there is nothing there for him.

Tamara believes you need to have fun and a plan for the future because sadness can affect your health.

Personal development and travel were two areas in which people had hopes for the future. Some wanted to learn a musical instrument, have their writing published, further their education or pursue their creative hobbies. Others wanted to travel around Australia and have more overseas holidays, however, they did point out that travel gets harder as you age. Experiencing more joy in life was an aspiration for several participants (see, for example, Robyn and Colleen above).

Margaret is looking forward to more adventurous holidays. She wants to live life to the full and have no regrets.

Participants also spoke about the legacy they wanted to leave behind, which most often involved writing books and passing knowledge to children. Several people were writing their family history, their own story or organising family documents to be archived in the library.

For Katherine, writing books is an opportunity to contribute to knowledge and have something remain after she passes.

Val is writing her family history and distributing memorabilia as a legacy for her family.

Leaving their children with large sums of money was not so important to the people we spoke with, although some did take great pleasure in giving their children money now and sharing their joy. The legacy people wanted to leave for their children was more likely to be knowledge and that they had raised their children to be good people.

Des would like to be able to pass on all his knowledge to his children, but knows they need to make their own mistakes.

Marlene is teaching her grandson about Buddhism. She believes knowledge is power and would like to share it with others.