According to the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank, the greater St. Louis community has seen a sharp increase in individuals who sought early retirement since the onset of the pandemic. For this reason, thousands of individuals across the Metro East are now seeking opportunities for the next chapter.
Like the private sector, community service organizations have also been impacted by a volatile labor market and faced with even more demand to meet the needs of our community.
For these reasons and more, volunteering for a nonprofit organization is a great way to find new purpose in this next phase and use those skills that were perfected over a career to enrich our community.
So how do you start the process of finding out where you might plug in?
First, sit down and list all of your talents, particularly those that also bring you joy. Charitable organizations have many of the same needs as for profit companies and skills such as accounting, legal, office administration, event planning, IT, marketing and leadership are extremely valuable. Also think about how your skills could be applied in a new way such as tutoring or mentoring or children.
Next, think about the type of mission driven work that lights a fire in you. Are you passionate about children, seniors or animals? Do you have a personal connection to an organization already such as a favorite charity, school or church? Whatever you decide to do, aligning with a cause that is personal is core to finding long term fulfillment in volunteer work.
Lastly, think about how much time you want to commit. Having at least a loose structure helps us to feel grounded. The question then becomes how much of this new schedule will be dedicated to mission driven work. Questions you might consider include: Is your spouse retired as well? Are there activities you want to do together or on your own? How much time do you want to spend exercising, traveling or doing leisure activities? Figuring out your new retirement schedule will take time and keep in mind that although it is volunteer work that does not mean the work will be easier either physically, mentally or emotionally.
Final word of advice; keep in mind that figuring out this next chapter of your life may take time and have grace in the journey of finding out what makes you feel whole. After all our time is the most precious resource we have – so use it wisely.