One of the first challenges newly retired individuals face is the struggle with a diminished sense of self-worth. The end of a person’s professional career also brings an end to decades of work and personal investment. Between the lack of a structured schedule, the reduced responsibilities and the abrupt halt of your career, adjusting to the next phase of life often comes with a great deal of difficulty. Unfortunately, too many retired individuals wind up resigning themselves to a reduced value and role in society.
But there’s a flawed logic in thinking that retirement equates decreased value. Even when individuals say goodbye to their day job, they’re still fully functioning members of society and equipped with skills that can make meaningful contributions. In fact, the opened up free time of no longer having a job creates plenty of opportunity to make yourself useful in ways not possible when you were fully employed. With a slight change of perspective, you can find plenty of ways to remain active and involved well into your retirement.
Get a hobby job
Many new retirees miss the productivity and routine of having a job. For them, there’s great news: You can easily get another job in retirement. But instead of a career-track position, consider taking a position at a place that you will enjoy while still being challenged. Seek out jobs that align with your hobbies and/or passions, whether that’s woodworking or simply talking to others. You can even settle on a part-time job with flexible hours to retain the benefits of retired life.
Volunteer your time to a local organization
If a second job isn’t of any interest, consider volunteering at a local organization you are passionate about. Historical societies, museums, non-profits and other organizations are always in need of helping hands across a wide range of tasks. If you’re committed to this type of work, your societal value in retirement could actually exceed what you experienced as a career worker.
Take, for example, Betty Ruth Kemp of Norman, Oklahoma. As a member of the Chickasaw Nation, which refers to itself as “unconquered and unconquerable,” Kemp spent her life protecting tribal archives for the Chickasaw while serving for a variety of historical organizations. As a tribute to her service, Kemp was voted into the Chickasaw Nation Hall of Fame earlier this year.
Such achievements aren’t unthinkable for other retirees. If you find an organization you are passionate about, there’s nothing that says you can’t become an integral contributor in your golden years.
It’s becoming increasingly common for retirees to go back to school. Whether it’s taking classes at the university level or simply learning new skills and crafts through community colleges or local community centers, learning keeps your brain sharp and busy. Many people find significant personal satisfaction in undertaking education later in life.
It’s natural for big life transitions to come with some struggle. The important thing to remember in the days and weeks following your retirement is that your days can still be filled with meaning and purpose, even if that purpose is changed. Remember that the change is an opportunity to put your efforts toward something you are passionate about. That’s one of the best parts of the retirement years, and it will keep you highly valued in the eyes of others.
About the author: Danielle blogs on behalf of Sears and other brands she uses. In her spare time, she formally studies marketing at The Kelley School of Business and informally studies the Chickasaw Nation and other Native American tribes.