Retired and Inspired! Ideas for a Gratifying Retirement

Active Living Profiles

Retirement can be the Most Fulfilling Time of your Life

In the not too distant past, many workers looked forward to retirement as an opportunity to leave the daily grind behind and do absolutely nothing except relax. Today, the vast majority of older Americans have a very different view about what makes for an enjoyable retirement. They’re looking to learn new skills and stay active and engaged – making the most of every day.

You may have a bucket list of the things you’d like to experience and master during retirement, and for many, the focus will be on “me” versus “we”. But if you’re inclined to share skills and knowledge that could benefit students, younger employees, or your community, there are countless opportunities to give back. The key is to balance what you have to give and what you’ll get in return to avoid making it feel like yet another job. Use these tips to benefit yourself and others at the same time.

Thinking About Taking a Class? Why Not Teach a Class!

Consider all the skills and knowledge you’ve amassed over your lifetime. Chances are, people want to know what you know, especially beginners who are exploring a new hobby or interest. There are a myriad of ways to share as a teacher – from community education to university-level classes.

Check out the education programs in your area and see if there’s a gap you can fill. Since most classes have moved online, you may also find opportunities to teach outside your immediate area. Are you a master gardener willing to share your green thumb? Maybe you’re a craftsman with remodeling or repair knowledge that could help new homeowners. Perhaps you’re proficient in a foreign language and could help students perfect their comprehension and pronunciation, or an experienced birder who wants to share your avian acumen with fledgling birdwatchers.

Consider how you’ll conduct your class and what type of equipment you might need. A simple camera and microphone, and a well-thought-out workspace for classes where you’ll demonstrate a technique or skill may be all that’s needed. Of course, teaching in an academic setting may require a special license, but many colleges and universities sponsor educational outreach programs that may not require certification.

Look online for help creating a plan for your class – what you’ll share, what they’ll learn – and pitch your plan to schools and education programs in your area and beyond. Figure out what your time is worth to establish your fee.

Become a Consultant or Contractor

Consulting and contract work is a win-win for you and the businesses that hire you. You’ll enjoy greater flexibility in terms of hours and work-life balance, and employers won’t have to deal with the expense and administrative details that come with hiring someone full-time. Businesses often hire consultants and contractors for a specific project or to pitch in when full-time workers are overbooked or out on leave. Business development and communications strategy consultants are frequently in demand. Whatever your expertise, focus on skills you already have and never miss an opportunity to upgrade your knowledge. Be sure your hourly fee reflects the value and worth of what you provide. And since most business is conducted online these days, offer to meet with virtually with prospective clients to make your pitch.

See your Words at Work

If you’ve always wanted to write but you’re not inclined to tackle a book or screenplay, consider writing and submitting to local newspapers and magazines, both online and print. Dip a toe in by writing a letter to the editor. Branch out with an opinion piece or general interest story. Contact publications in your area to see what’s in demand and what they’re looking for in terms of length. Offer to be a guest contributor to publications and websites you frequent. Some publications may pay for submissions, although most will not. But if you have a way with words and want to be heard, it can be fun to see your work in a real paper, magazine, or on a website.

If you can’t get any traction with publications in your area, consider starting your own newsletter (print or online) or blog. There are free blog creation software programs to get you up and running and mailing list software to help grow your audience. Write about something you know and commit to writing regular posts. If you’re looking to make money with your blog, you’ll need to offer something of value that will encourage people to pay for a subscription. You may also want to investigate affiliate programs that place advertising on your blog and pay you when visitors to your blog click through on those ads.

Make it all About Altruism

The opportunities above can all provide some financial return, as well as keep you active and engaged. But if you’re truly not concerned about getting paid for your time and effort, there are countless organizations that need skilled volunteers to fill a variety of roles. Most organizations host online volunteer boards where you can find out who needs help. Look for groups that have virtual volunteer openings.

Be a mentor

Sharing what you’ve learned and being a sounding board for someone on a similar path – be it in business, school, or life in general – can be tremendously satisfying. If you have solid business skills, especially as a business owner or executive, there are business mentorship programs that would welcome your skill set.  Helping an entrepreneur, student, or young person who just needs to know someone cares, is often life-changing for mentor and mentee alike.

Be a tutor

Consider volunteering virtually with a local school to tutor kids who need help with reading, writing or math. Volunteer to help an immigrant with English language skills in a 1:1 virtual setting. School and social program budgets are often slim and tutors can make up the difference, ensuring that individuals who need extra help get the time and attention they need to succeed.

Get in the spirit

People often forget that their church, synagogue, temple, or other place of worship is also a business with administrative needs. Consider volunteering to serve as a committee member or chair. Ensuring that your place of worship functions well will help strengthen its ability to serve the spiritual needs of all members, including you.

However you choose to spend your retirement – whether reading and napping, adventuring and exploring, or expanding and passing on expertise and skills you gained while working – it’s your time to enjoy as you see fit. A combination of leisure and work feels right for most people these days. You’ll stay active and engaged, be exposed to new ideas and new technology, and have opportunities to forge friendships with people of all ages, perhaps in communities outside your own area.

Consider the knowledge, talent, and tips you gained over a lifetime of work, and look for ways to be a leader to those who may want to follow in your footsteps.