Careers are time limited, which is hard for some to accept but something every working person must contemplate.
Certain things have bothered me about our society’s perceptions of the third age. For me it is not just about relaxing. It is about choosing passion projects, pursuing new passions and asking how we can contribute to our families and communities. It is essential to retire to something not from something. Clinicians lead focused, busy, professional lives, and to retire and stop moving at a fast pace can be a challenge.
What does the third age look like after a busy professional life? Two years ago, I made the decision to retire and created a plan to reallocate my time. Some things have happened as I planned; other opportunities also presented themselves and I had to decide if I wanted to add them to my schedule.
I took some steps to prepare for retirement, and now wish I had taken certain measures earlier.
There are many opportunities available to clinicians during the third age: advising, consulting, corporate boards, teaching and volunteering for mission causes come to mind.
Surprisingly, most professional associations focus advice on financial planning for the third age. While that is important, it is only one piece of the puzzle.
Make a Plan
First, develop a plan to pursue what you want and think through what you need to do to prepare. Speak with others who have done it. Just like with a career, you need to put time into exploring your options. What kind of balance do you want between income-based projects and volunteer time? What amount of time do you want to dedicate to yourself and your family? The process is different for each person.
One of my colleagues recommended the National Association of Corporate Directors online fellowship. I wished I pursued it ten years earlier but have still learned a great deal now as a board member.
Second, create your own volunteer role. If you are good at something, find an organization that can benefit from your skill set. If the organization doesn’t have a volunteer position listed, call the leader and offer the opportunity to incorporate your contributions into their organization.
One local resource for placement is at Le Moyne College.
In partnership with Le Moyne College, the Ignatian Volunteer Corps (IVC) of Syracuse, is a spirituality-based outreach program for men and women age 50 or better who spend time each week in service to those who are materially poor and disadvantaged, while offering hope and human dignity. The Syracuse region, one of over 20 regions throughout the United States, provides volunteers to more than 15 community agencies. Most of our volunteers are retired or semi-retired and have had robust careers and community service experience. They are eagerly moving into a new phase in their lives and want to be purposeful and deliberate about sharing their valuable life experience, wisdom and skills with others,” says Linda Zimmerman, IVC Director of Syracuse.
Speak with colleagues who have already transitioned to retirement.
When asked about purpose in retirement, Buzz Roberts, a retired urologist, says, “I have always enjoyed biology. Living on Skaneateles Lake, I became interested in lake ecology and have become active in our lake association. I now find I’m reading about aquatic invasive species and harmful algal blooms and attending conferences. During the summer and fall, I coordinate our watercraft inspection steward program. It has been very rewarding to work with high school and college students and see their interests in the environment and environmental studies. The best part, though, has been the people I have met through these endeavors.”
The number of clinicians involved with mission work is perhaps the most exciting volunteer efforts I’ve seen. These clinicians pave the way for current and future volunteer roles.
We have time to become an advocate for causes we are passionate about or to be politically active. I am now an advocate for Lyme disease and tick-borne illness research, education and treatment.
The third age is an exciting stage and communities need our clinicians to stay engaged and continue to share their talents.
Move toward something new or grow a previous passion; we need your wisdom and talent.