Many of us worry about whether we’ll have enough to do once we retire. Especially if we’ve been in demanding jobs, the thought of long, empty days can be very unappealing. Don’t be discouraged and don’t let this postpone your retirement plans! It may take some time and effort, but I promise that you will eventually find the right mix of activities and leisure time and you will join in the chorus of, “I don’t know how I ever found the time to go to work!”
One great way to start building this mix of satisfying and useful ways to spend your time is volunteer work. This is one of those rare things in life that has plenty of advantages and very little in the way of a downside.
Consider these seven reasons to volunteer:
#1 – So many organizations today need extra help in so many different ways. This puts you in the driver’s seat to determine which opportunities really suit you best.
#2 – The feelings you get from doing good, aiding others, and extending yourself with a helping hand has been shown to be a major endorphin booster!
#3 – You can choose a regular time schedule or work at your own discretion, depending on the organization. You can work as much or as little as you want and you can work for more than one organization at a time.
#4 – The work you choose can be really challenging or just a lot of fun; it can make use of skills you never thought you had or fall directly into your comfort zone; and it can involve lots of interaction with other people or provide you with the opportunity for some alone time. You decide.
#5 – Speaking of other people, volunteering is a great chance to meet new folks who share some of your interests. It can provide a level of social interaction that we now know is vital to a long and happy life.
#6 – No longer working at a “real” job, you may find yourself missing a sense of purpose each day. Volunteering can go a long way to restoring this, increasing your sense of self-worth and value.
#7 – Volunteering can give both the body and brain a workout, an important way to stay fit in both dimensions.
Try out different things to see what feels right to you. Bill and I have lived here on Florida’s Suncoast for a little over three years now and we’re still discovering the best volunteering activities for us. Some we’ve tried, some we’re doing regularly, some we’re going to try in the near future:
This list is just a beginning – the possibilities are endless. How to find the right one(s) for you? Both VolunteerMatch and The United Way will offer you opportunities based on your geographic area.
Already doing volunteer work? Terrific! I'd love to hear from you.
I'm Linda Fleit. My husband and I were lucky enough to retire when we were 61, about nine years ago. We love being retired and want to share all that we've learned over the years about this wonderful stage of life.