Is Volunteering for You?
Most of us have looked forward to that time when we could retire. We worked hard all our lives and hopefully have saved for our senior years. The first few months or even years of retirement are glorious. We do not have to get up before we want to in the morning, we can do what we like during the day, stay up later at night to watch a movie, read a book, etc.
For many, that is enough. But others may find themselves getting bored or restless and begin looking for more to fill their days. Should you look for a part-time job, find a new hobby, or volunteer? The most important thing is to do what you truly wish to do. If you really want to volunteer, then find something you would love to do. If you don’t particularly want to volunteer and would go about it half-heartedly because you think it is something you should do, then do not do it. Volunteering when your heart is not in it can lead to resentment or even depression.
The American Psychological Association tells us the following about retirement, “Too few people consider the psychological adjustments that accompany this life stage, which can include coping with the loss of your career identity, replacing support networks you had through work, spending more time than ever before with your spouse, and finding new and engaging ways to stay active.
Some retirees ease smoothly into retirement, spending more time with hobbies, family, and friends. But research finds that others experience anxiety, depression, and debilitating feelings of loss, per Robert Delamontagne, PhD, author of the 2011 book "The Retiring Mind: How to Make the Psychological Transition to Retirement.” Retiring minds want to know (apa.org)
The important thing is to do what is meaningful for you. If you have maintained friendships and have an active lifestyle throughout retirement, then volunteering may not be your cup of tea. Perhaps you would rather spend your time with friends, playing cards, going shopping or to the movies, joining clubs, and having dinners together or with family members and grandchildren. You may even be able to help your younger family members out by babysitting a couple of times a week for them, provided you are physically able and wish to do so. It will give you time to create memories with your grandchildren and/or great grandchildren.
If you are someone who retired without many friendships, volunteering can open up your social world and give you a sense of feeling you are a part of something bigger than yourself. It can also promote increased activity, prevent isolation, boost self-esteem, and bridge the generation gap.
In the end, just remember that volunteering should be done on an “I want to” and not on an “I should” basis.