Retirement is exciting, relaxing, and liberating. But, the sudden shift in responsibilities and schedule can make for a rocky transition. However, retirement doesn’t mean that you have to put your career skills away. Take your newfound free time and ask yourself three questions:
What makes you feel good?
What skills do you have?
What can you do to fuse the two together?
That is what Anne Bell, a retired corporate Vice President turned dedicated volunteer, asked herself and now, she couldn’t be happier with her life post-career. My mom has been best friends with Anne since high school, so subsequently, Anne has been a big part of my life. Anne is the perfect example of how to flourish during retirement.
If you review Anne’s resume, you will see a long list of professional accomplishments and career highlights. Working in Information Technology at Xerox for 38.5 years, Anne held several positions. She finished her career with Vice President of Enterprise and Corporate Applications at the top of her resume. In 2014, Anne received the Digital Rochester’s Technology Woman of the Year award.
Despite her achievements, Anne still struggled with finding her true meaning in life. So, when she retired from Xerox at 58 years old, she knew it was time to find her purpose.
“Every day you are kind of set up with choices of what you can do. There’s way too many things to do out there,” Anne said on navigating retired life. Overwhelmed by the possibilities of her free time, she evaluated her values and herself, “How can my life skills and experiences help make the world a better place?”
It all fell into place when she discovered Bethany House, a Catholic Worker House of Hospitality in Rochester, NY, that welcomes homeless women and children. First learning about the house through her church, Anne has served on the board for the past six years.
Bethany House assists women and children in need and works under the principles of personalism, pacifism, voluntary poverty, and clarification of thought. As a board member, Anne is able to witness the miracles at Bethany House everyday and can still apply skills she mastered in her career to this new role.
Anne traded in managing a team of technology professionals to overseeing volunteers of all ages—high school students, college interns, and even some adults older than her. She even served as Interim Director for 45 days while the house searched for a new director. While some of her responsibilities seem daunting at the Bethany House, no day there ever feels like a chore.
“Every day there is a miracle at Bethany House,” she says. “There’s always a story in these women. You get to see life in a different perspective.”
Her devotion to volunteerism has always been present in her life, but retired life has given her the opportunity to delve deeper into this passion. In addition to her time at Bethany House, Anne also volunteers at maximum-security men’s prisons through “Residents Encountering Christ” (REC) events. She claims that this event was “one of the most enlightening or moving experiences that [she] had.”
Over the course of three days, Anne, along with other volunteers, created a “sanctuary in the prison gym” for the convicted men. The experience was so enlightening that Anne plans to attend the REC event again this May—this time as the lead coordinator. She finds her 30+ years of professional management experience quite applicable in this volunteer role.
Between Bethany House and the REC events, Anne still finds time to do outdoor activities such as camping, biking, skiing, and snowshoeing. Each day is her own and she spends it how she pleases—enjoying life and assisting those in need.
Anne feels like she has more energy. Her commitments are more flexible and she has never felt more alive. She admits that she was initially scared of retirement, scared her “brain would go dead.” Her fear couldn’t be farther from the truth!
If you balance your passions with things you like to do, retired life will be one of the most rewarding, enjoyable times in your life.
In what ways has retired life helped you feel more alive? Share your story with us and inspire our fellow readers to do the same!
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Whether you are an avid TWE reader or first time downloader, a member of the iGeneration or on the brink of retirement, my hope is that through this eBook you can discover what matters most to you in life and and time to appreciate it all.