Living a purpose-driven life is not only crucial to maintaining psychological wellness and physical health; it may also be linked to longevity, according to a new study from the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.

Researchers studied 1,238 older adults whose average age was 78. They were dementia-free when the study began.

In the beginning, participants answered questions about their purpose in life and were asked to rate themselves in a sense-of-purpose evaluation. The average score for the evaluations was 3.7 out of a maximum of 5.

When compared with participants who had a weak sense of purpose, those with definite life goals reduced their risk of dying by almost half during the three-year follow-up period. This was despite controlling factors such as depressive symptoms, chronic medical conditions and disability.

Haven’t found your purpose quite yet? Don’t worry, assured study author Patricia Boyle, MD, a neurophysiologist at the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center. “[Your purpose] can be anything—from wanting to accomplish a goal in life, to achieving something in a volunteer organization to as little as reading a series of books,” she said, “as long as it brings you meaning and encourages goal-oriented behavior.”

RH suggests you start jotting down your goals now.