Now that we have finally decided to retire after years of working hard for ourselves and our loved ones, we now face this difficult question: what am I going to do with all the free time I now have? Most retirees like me, especially when they have just started their retirement, choose to do the things they have never done yet while having a regular job. For many, this means filling up their passport’s pages with stamps and sipping on coolers while looking at the vast blue ocean or indulging on a bit of history and going around the various museums and famous destinations.
For others, this is the time to pursue their favourite hobbies [or monetising their hobbies perhaps] and learn new ones. The bottom line is, retirement, for a lot of people, is doing the things you want for yourself.
Retiring Into Action…
There are also some people who chose to spend their retirement doing things not only for themselves but also for others, especially those who need it the most. They chose to spend their time doing volunteer work and giving up some of their time for others.
You might say, “How am I going to volunteer if I’m already old and feel weak every so often?” but in fact, that is hardly an issue. You would be surprised at the number of older volunteers even in your neighbourhood, with some of them decades older than you are and are considered regular volunteers.
There are so many reasons why we should all consider looking into doing some volunteer work:
First is the obvious: it will make us feel good about ourselves. It is an amazing feeling getting home tired and sleeping it off at night knowing that it was brought about by you helping out other people. Trust me.
Another is the fact that every single kind of help goes a long way. You might
think that your efforts are miniscule in comparison but combine that along with that of other people’s and you will be astonished at how much you have made a difference.
One reason why I like volunteering is that it allows me to meet new people. Every single one of us has a story to tell and it is a pleasure for me to hear them. And you can actually use that as your advantage, especially if you still have a career, because volunteering increases your personal network.
Fourth reason is we get to put a smile on other people’s faces. In small ways, we get to make people happy even if it is just but temporary. A simple and sincere “thank you” is enough for me to make a terrible day turn better.
And lastly, it is one of the best ways to spend one’s free time. Instead of just sitting around the couch and watching the telly, I get to give back some of my time to people who need it.
There are plenty of ways to volunteer and for our age, we should know our limits. For the physically fit, you can help out with physically taxing volunteer work, such as building homes, but if you are not, please do not be stubborn and decide to do just that just because you want to; it will likely do you and other people more harm than good. There are plenty of volunteer opportunities that will not require some hard labour.
If you haven’t a clue where to start looking for one that suits your fancy, start at your local neighbourhood. Check at your civic centre and regular place of worship for lists of activities and volunteer opportunities. They often post lists for those activities way ahead of the schedule because they will need all the volunteers that they can get for those activities.
You can also check out various websites that are catered to people our age who are looking for volunteer work. You can start by visiting Reach (http://www.reachskills.org.uk/), which matches people’s skills to what a volunteer organisation needs.
Other websites worth checking out are Age UK(http://www.ageuk.org.ukget-involved/volunteer/), which is specifically catered for and represents older people, WRVS (http://www.wrvs.org.uk/) consisting of about 45,000 volunteers and helps people our age be active and independent in the community and at home, and the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (http://www.csv-rsvp.org.uk/site/home), which promotes the participation of people aged 50 and up in the local neighbourhood.
We live in a world where a lot of people need our help. This is the reason why volunteerism is being actively promoted for people of all ages. We should all look into doing some volunteer work even for a few hours every day or week. Now that we have so much free time in our hands, there is no better way to spend even just a fraction of it in serving other people. After all, everybody needs a little help sometimes and for some, they need all the help that we can give them.
Like many people around my age we are redefining what retirement is all about. Our generation is not satisfied with just sitting around waiting for time to pass. We’re breaking the rules and making our latter years mean something.
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