On the House

Much to be Gained from Volunteering

OntheHouseFor some boomers and seniors, volunteering could be a path to fulfillment. Once you get over the societal pressure of having to earn a living, you might find that giving back generates its own kind of tangible reward.

For many years, I have volunteered as a branding and marketing counselor at a small business center operated by a local community college. I get to help entrepreneurs start or improve their businesses. I can use the knowledge I gained as a marketer during my professional career -- and it prompts me to keep current on the ever-changing marketing world. My wife, who was a professional dog groomer for ten years, retired and now grooms dogs on a volunteer basis for a local humane society. She gets a great deal of satisfaction turning dirty, matted dogs into adoptable cuties.

Your later years could be the time when you pursue or discover a passion that turns into a gratifying volunteer opportunity. Kathryn Lance, for example, writes for Next Avenue about her transition from a professional writer to docent. She not only shares her experiences as a docent, she offers helpful examples about where to find docent positions.

Read Kathryn's article here.

Doing Meaningful Work

ID-10088137 MusingsFor some in the second half of life, doing meaningful work is a priority. Still, as Susan Cramm writes for Strategy + Business, "as we get older, we put more weight on what we could lose than on what we might gain — and developing conviction to pursue our dreams becomes more difficult." That's why she recommends following some "easy-to-describe but difficult-to-practice" principles:

  1. Honor your impulses.
  2. Remain persistent.
  3. Once you have an educated guess, consider it fact, and start acting accordingly.
  4. Say yes to opportunities that come your way."

Read Susan's entire article here (including more detail about the above four principles and some inspiring examples). 

 Image: Stuart Miles, www.freedigitalphotos.net

Starting Over and Giving Back

OntheHouseNot every senior has the wealth necessary to stop working for a living, rewire their life, and making a commitment to do social good. But many of us certainly share the dream of someone like Sherry Lansing who, after reaching the pinnacle of success in Hollywood, decided she would give back.

Harriet Edelson writes in The New York Times that Lansing, whose position as chairwoman of Paramount Pictures was the culmination of a 40-year career, left to do something entirely different: devote her energy to cancer research. One reason: Her mother died at the age of 64 of ovarian cancer. So Lansing started the Sherry Lansing Foundation, which funds and raises awareness for cancer research.

Such organizations as Encore.org and the Greater Good Science Center focus on how each of us can bring meaning to life. That seems to be a major theme for many of us in our later years. Of course, the path you choose doesn't have to be as ambitious as starting your own foundation (admittedly, something that would be difficult for a majority of "retirees"). In my case, I have found a certain fulfillment in giving back by counseling small business owners in brand marketing, as well as becoming involved in an animal welfare organization in my community.

When you consider your next phase, consider the things you are passionate about. You just might find legitimate opportunities to channel those passions into noble endeavors (even if on a part-time basis). Don't be surprised if these experiences give you far more satisfaction than collecting a paycheck.