With a couple or more decades of free time ahead, retirement is the best part of life for blending your past work experience with the hobbies or causes you love. It is that treasured period of time when you can do all the things you “put off” because you were working too hard to have time to dedicate to them.
As we increasingly become swept up in a frenzied pace of living and for some a chaotic work life balance, retirement shines like a beacon of golden light offering us a more peaceful and personally fulfilling existence.
However, you don’t just reach retirement one day, stop working, and suddenly expect to feel just as fulfilled or engaged with life. The switch between the two lifestyles can be jarring. To make the transition a smooth one takes some planning and thought.
One way to stay connected in the short term is to volunteer in the same field you retired from. Nurses, accountants, teachers, chefs---in fact, any career that you may have had before---all can make a difference in the lives of others by volunteering your knowledge and time. When you volunteer, opportunities for new friendships and experiences will expand your horizons in ways you may never have anticipated. Especially if you are retiring early, when you are anywhere from 58 to 65, staying connected to your career in some way helps the oftentimes difficult transition between full time work and no work.
No matter what age you are when you plan to retire, planning ahead of time ensures that you will have something to look forward to. If you are in the social services or are good at connecting with people, begin to offer to sit on boards and contribute your expertise before you retire, so that you have that activity in play ahead of retirement. If you are good at mentoring, begin to offer private tutoring to students on the weekends. That tutoring can then extend into your retirement years and offer you not only extra income but interactions with young people that can be incredibly rewarding.
The key to feeling a sense of purpose is in finding ways to do the things you love and feel accomplished doing them. If you love painting, then before retirement take the time to research different associations you can join, classes you can take, and make a list of competitions or galleries you would love to show in. If you have a yen to travel the world and see all the places you dreamed of, begin now to research the ways you will be able to make that dream come true. For instance, consider looking into cruise ships and get your passport in order. Many “hire” seniors to be male escorts or dance partners for ladies on the ships, and many welcome with open arms religious clergy to service their passengers, destination speakers who can talk about ports of call, and enrichment lecturers who can entertain passengers by showing them how to do arts and crafts or popular hobbies. In return you receive your room and board on the ship, and voila, you have achieved your dream of traveling the world!
Love the theater? Have a talent for singing? Answer that casting call! You may even make some money doing it.
Beginning to plan well in advance will ensure you will have every chance possible of leading a joyful and fulfilling retirement.