Successful Retirement Starts With a Purpose

I’m Retired, What Now?

Have you ever noticed that some people who’ve spent their entire working years looking forward to retirement get bored silly when their retirement finally comes around?

retired coupleThose people may have plenty to do in retirement – from gardening and cooking to hiking and line dancing—but they can still be bored in ways they didn’t know were possible.

Other people may do a lot less in retirement yet never know what it is to feel bored. In fact, they may do just one or two significant activities a day and leave the vast majority of their time for leisure. And somehow they never get bored.

How is this possible? One word. Purpose.

Whatever you do, if you do it with a purpose, you’re not likely to get bored.

Can you find a meaningful purpose in any activity? Maybe. Maybe not. But anybody can find a purpose and plan activities to support it.

Some retirees have found these eight activities especially fulfilling:

1. Volunteering

You’d be amazed at what a difference a few hours of volunteering per week can make—to you and to those who’d be benefiting from your service. Regardless of the community you live in, there are small or large organizations eager for your help. If there’s a particular segment of the population you have a special interest in serving, there’s probably a volunteer group or organization in your city or town focusing on the needs of that group. If you’d like to volunteer to help seniors who may be less fortunate than yourself, for example, you may want to check out an organization like Meals on Wheels, which helps provide over a million meals to seniors every day thanks to a volunteer force that may be the largest in the US. There are numerous church- and community-based organizations all over the country addressing the needs of all segments of the population, and there’s likely to be one that seems right for you. If not, why not put your experience and vision to work by organizing your own group of volunteers?

2.Teaching or mentoring

Retiree TeacherWho could possibly do this better than someone with your experience?

Whether you’re inclined to pass on some of your work experience or simply your life experience, you shouldn’t have trouble finding fulfilling teaching or mentoring opportunities in any part of the country.

You might consider:

3. Volunteering at a school

With education budgets stripped nearly to the bone in many places, school volunteers are more important than ever. Would you find it fulfilling to help with after-school activities, accompany students and teachers on field trips, entertain youngsters with stories in the school library or the classroom, or even organize a school club to help pass down a special skill of yours? If so, your local school may provide just the opportunity you’re looking for.

4.Teaching a community class

Wherever you live, it’s likely that adult classes are advertised a few times a year for people interested in learning new skills or pursuing new interests. If you have a special skill or knowledge you’d like to pass on to adults, check out adult education opportunities in your community.

Cities and towns with substantial immigrant communities are often looking for volunteers to help teach English as a Second Language to newcomers to the United States. Public libraries are often a good place to visit in order to learn about these and other informal teaching opportunities that may be available in your town or neighborhood.

5.Tutoring a grandchild or a child in the neighborhood

Retiree and childrenYou can be the difference between a D or F and an A on that child’s next report card. Simply investing a few hours a week can help change a child’s outlook and even chances of long-term success.

These are just a few examples. Chances are there are many more teaching or mentoring opportunities in your own neighborhood.

6. Starting a club

Starting a club from scratch is a great way of combining your best interests with the best interests of others.

The limits to the kind of club you can start stretch as far as your imagination can go.

You could start a club for:

• discussing books

• watching and discussing movies

• dancing

• dining

• volunteering

• making crafts

• going to plays or concerts

• making music of your own

• playing tennis or golf

• visiting historical attractions in your region

That short list took longer to type than it took to think of. Give yourself a few minutes and you can probably come up with dozens of options for starting a new club. Chess, anyone? Cooking? Arranging events with guest speakers who’d be glad to come and talk to a group of attentive, interested seniors?

Joining an existing club is great. It gives you the opportunity to spend time pursuing an interest with like-minded people. It addresses your well-being as well as theirs. But when there’s not a club around that focuses on what really interests you, take action. Start spreading the word. Put up some notices that a club is forming. Call people you know who’ve shown interest in the activity your club will focus on. Once you’ve got a few members and have met a few times, word will start getting around faster—and when people start hearing about all the fun they’re missing on Tuesday or Thursday or Saturday nights, you’ll hear from people who can’t wait to join your club.

7. Blogging

Retired Couple BloggingMany people get a surprising amount of information these days from blogs—such as the one you’re reading now!

It’s almost impossible for someone to have lived through the past six, seven, or eight decades without having plenty to say. If you are 65, you’ve lived through:

• World War Two

• the Korean War

• the Cold War

• the 50s (and maybe you’re still washing the grease out of your hair to show it)

• the Kennedy assassination

• moon landings

• Vietnam

• Watergate

• the Iran hostage crisis

• the end of the Soviet empire

Again, that short list took seconds to come up with—and we haven’t even touched on the last 20 years. The point here is, you’ve pretty much seen it all. You’ve been through a career, or maybe two. You’ve probably raised a family. Chances are you’ve built something from nothing many times. You probably have plenty to say, and there are probably people who’d be happy to read what you have to share.

An online search will quickly tell you everything you need to know about starting a blog. It’s easy, and if you enjoy writing and can provide some information that people will find helpful, you’ll be doing a great service to them and to yourself!

8. Getting in shape and staying there

retired couple exercisingHow does this benefit anyone but yourself? Easy. If you’re healthy, you’ll have all the energy you’ll need to help out at home, play with the grandkids, and be of service in your community. But you’ll also save money by staying healthy. Whether you join a gym or do your own cardiostrengthendurance, and stretching workouts at home, you’ll be doing your part to minimize the risk of conditions as serious as diabetes and cancer. Rather than accepting a decline in conditioning and energy as an inevitable sign of aging, you’ll have more time, energy and money to devote to whatever purpose you’ve established for a meaningful and rewarding retirement.

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