A senior moment: What’s our job now?

By Danna Downing

When a person first retires, their job description has to be re-defined. After a couple of years or maybe even sooner, an older adult will be called upon again and again to re-evaluate his or her priorities. This is also a good time to “tinker under the hood” to fine tune the way we spend our time each day, week, and month. With good care and good luck, we will have those opportunities frequently and be able to enhance our life satisfaction in many ways.

Managing our financial and physical health is perennially at the top of our considerations as we age. None of us wants to be a burden to our loved ones. Staying financially sound and physically fit is a gift to ourselves and to those we love.

No less important, however, is our joy and contentment in later years. In fact, there is an endless range of ways to exercise our personal skills, talents, and gifts. This personal work is likely to help us achieve what are truly the most important components of a happy life: feelings of love and the satisfaction of doing something meaningful each and every day.

Retirement may well be the perfect time for thinking about the greater good. This is a task that goes beyond our own personal concerns and contributes to the huge world of undone, life-saving, and amazing things that can change lives.

Let’s start with this question: “If I could do something really important before I die, what would it be?” Everyone’s resources vary and everyone’s skills are unique. We want to key in on the do-able items, for sure. Let’s widen the thought process with some sample questions to spark your creativity:

Would there be some fence-mending that could be done to re-establish an important relationship?

Is there someone you can help in a way that can change their world for a minute or even a lifetime?

Is there a topic you can research and then share balanced and factual information to help others to make a difficult decision?

Is there a cause that you believe in that you could further support in your later life with a small check, by listing the organization in your obituary, or by encouraging someone you know to volunteer for the cause?

If you have been trained for specialized services such as accounting, auto repair, health care, or education, could you re-harness those skills to provide tax preparation for vulnerable populations, recommend a good and affordable mechanic to someone in need, do a blood pressure screening for a homebound senior, volunteer for a literacy group, or serve on a community board or advisory group?

Speaking from personal experience, I can testify to the return on such investments during my retirement. I wish you all the joy of such exploration in your life. I get goosebumps thinking about how, if each of us do this, our gifts will ripple through our community and turn into stories we cannot even begin to imagine in our lifetimes.

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