Coping with the loss of your career identity, replacing support networks you had through work, as well as spending more time than ever before with your spouse and finding new and engaging ways to stay active is what happens in first stage of retirement. Weirdly, many of the very attributes that made you successful in your work life & career will often work against you, in retirement. Why? Being driven, detail oriented, and juggling many things really WORK when you have goals and deadlines… but in retirement, you don’t have deadlines or sale’s goals. You can fill that void, responsibly, with a skill-based volunteer position that draws from those attributes.
It’s important to make sure that your volunteer position is a good fit and that your commitment is small, at first. This helps gives you the opportunity to shift gears, and refocus, if you need to. Take some time before committing to an organization by researching how your personal skills fit the positions needing to be filled, because skill-based volunteering makes a huge difference to the organization, to the community, and to own your self-esteem.
Make no mistake about it – volunteering increases life satisfaction and provides a natural sense of accomplishment. Your role as a volunteer can also give you a sense of pride and identity, once your job identity is “retired.” A key risk factor for depression is social isolation. Volunteering keeps you in regular contact with others and helps you develop a solid support system, which in turn protects you against stress and depression when you’re going through challenging times. Volunteering is good for your health at any age, but it’s especially beneficial in older adults. Studies have found that those who volunteer have a lower mortality rate than those who do not, even when considering factors like the health of the participants. A recent study using data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) showed that a modest amount of volunteer activity lowered the risk of hypertension, a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, renal failure, and cognitive impairment (Burr, Tavares, and Mutchler 2010). Volunteers reported that they read more books and magazines, chose more active and mentally challenging activities (such as crossword puzzles), and watched less television after they had started their volunteer commitment than they had previously.
Here are a couple of links to help you find volunteer opportunities, in Williamsburg, Virginia
So get out there and start researching organizations that need YOU and YOUR skill set. It is great for you, good for you community, and we need to be happier and more fulfilled in retirement, because retirement is supposed to be “the good life!” Make yours GREAT!
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Licensed in Virginia with Liz Moore and Associates, 5350 Discovery Park Blvd, Williamsburg, VA 23188
Williamsburg has become a Mecca for retirees over the past dozen years because of its history, charm, vacation amenities, proximity to major cities and airports, and affordable cost of living. Check out www.retiringinwilliamsburg.com for information about the Williamsburg community, lifestyles available, and search for homes for sale.