Retirement planning means far more than addressing money issues, Jane C said. The retired nurse expected to feel happy upon retirement, but found herself “just miserable nearly every day,” instead.
As a medical professional, Jane knew that her own loneliness, sadness, loss of sleep and other symptoms are often described as depression, so she set out to fix the problem by discovering a proactive approach to retirement – finding something worthwhile to do while adding to her retirement income base.
Jane talked about the first months of retirement, missing her nursing work more than she could have imagined. Most friends, it turned out, “were people I knew through my job and I did not see them much anymore.
“My husband kept telling me to relax and enjoy our new retired life together, but I just could not seem to do it. I kept asking myself, ‘what’s wrong with me?'”
Finding a job as a paid tutor for nursing students turned out to be the best decision Jane ever made, and now she reports she is “anything from being depressed.”
IT IS INTERESTING how many working people dream of having time off, think about what they will do with new, extra hours and how they will enjoy their retirement to the fullest – while they are still employed.
Yet, too often retirement planning, both formal and informal, does not deal with the unanticipated void that often comes when people leave work to become retirees. “I will never make the 1 percenters – I don’t even care about having that much money. I just wanted to be happy in retirement,” Jane said.
(What is a 1 percenter? The Washington Post says, “Taken literally, the top 1 percent of American households that had a minimum income of $516,633 in 2010.)
A typical working person’s community consists of the people with whom they mingle at the workplace and the work-related events they experience during most days. So why would it not be normal for a retired person to feel like Jane, with a sense of loss and displacement, when a major part of their identity suddenly disappears?
Loss of work often represents a tremendous void for many retired people, and one growing solution is finding new work, whether paid or unpaid. If you are in this predicament, start thinking about the skills you used in your work life and how to share them with others now that you are retired (or even beforehand).
Another suggestion, coming from retirement planning experts, is to think about something that you always wanted to do, and come up with a way to achieve it. Perhaps you always wanted to play the guitar, write books, be a travel writer, cook Greek food. Each of these activities, especially for a retired person, is achievable.
Here are three more ideas that may help:
1. If you are good at building things, why not volunteer with Habitat for Humanity or another community organization that requires specific skills?
One California volunteer, a retired engineer, found life can exist after work by giving his time as a CASA volunteer, even though this required he acquire a new set of skills.
“I will never forget the first time that I met Jeremiah. He was waiting anxiously for me by the stairs of his group home. When I walked through the door, his eyes just lit up and he got the biggest smile on his face. He said, “You’re going to be my CASA, right?”
CASA volunteers help meet the emotional and physical safety needs of thousands of abused and neglected children across the country, advocating on behalf of their educational, mental health, medical, dental, and family/sibling visitation needs.
They become a consistent and caring adult and advocate for the child in a one-on-one relationship that forms between the volunteer and dependent child, often the only stable relationship the child has while in foster care. To work as a CASA volunteer, start asking around your community, at the courthouse, library and other such places to learn if there is a local program.
Alternatively, google CASA on the Internet and find where the closest program is located. You might end up starting your community’s first such program.
2. If math or science or foreign languages (music, grammar, reading) are your strength, how about tutoring a student in need?
With classroom sizes approaching 30 to 40 students, it is impossible for teachers of nearly any subject to provide individual attention to students. As the shortage of qualified teachers rises, and the number of students per class grows, many students will undoubtedly be left behind.This is where a skilled retiree can bridge the learning gap, as a tutor – voluntarily or paid.
What are the greatest qualities that a tutor can possess? First, the ability to empathize with students’ learning needs, says a retired teacher, Sara T. “No matter how difficult a student is to teach, tutors need to have the ability to communicate the love and passion they have for learning. Successful tutors understand, are patient and trustworthy.”
High intelligence is not required, but tutors must know what it feels like to not understand a concept,” says the retired Spanish teacher who now tutors for extra retirement money. She found her first students by simply placing an ad in various local community newspapers:
“I am accepting a few new students to tutor mathematics and reading comprehension on a private basis. I can also help with homework. Students receive one-on-one help to excel to their full potential. I have over 25 years of professional teaching experience and have worked with children having difficulty in a school setting. Will provide references. Call (Sara’s phone number) to learn more.”
Word of mouth, due to her positive reputation, keeps Sara so busy; she has a waiting list for her tutoring services.
Successful tutors have the ability to convey key information to students of all ages. Here are several online places to visit to learn more about tutoring opportunities via the Internet:
Tutor.vista.com (choose teaching jobs from home), ASAPtutor.com (choose job openings), Kaplan.com (careers at Kaplan), Elance.com (view list of jobs/market your services), Guru.com (list yourself as a freelancer); ParliamentTutors.com (choose careers), and tutor.com (choose button, Become a tutor.com tutor).
Even when a student is doing well, a tutor, on or off liine, must desire more and work even harder to bring out the very best – not only from their students but also from themselves.
If they lack these key qualities, their students will not have the desire or motivation to learn:
- Be prepared. Before the tutoring session begins, make it a goal to learn something for yourself. Do not rely on information you taught in the past, but seek out research results and latest information.
- Be positive. No matter how bad or how good a student’s academic situation is, be positive. Let students know they can improve.
- Be Personal. Take your students’ learning personally, showing passion by communicating your faith in them and your commitment to see them learn and grow.
- Stand committed. Every teacher has his or her blind spots, so commit yourself as a tutor to staying open minded. Remember there are other points of view and better methods of learning. Know that you can learn from any situation – even from your own students.
- Be reliable. Besides being on time for tutoring sessions, do not fake a caring attitude, and do not make promises that you cannot keep. Parents and students have expectations, and when you are able to confirm what you say, either verbally or non-verbally, you are known to be reliable.
3. If you were a great salesperson in your working days (or always thought you could have been), look for stores and other people (online and offline) that sell products or services that you like and find out if there is opportunity for you.
A good place to visit for possible items and services to represent is Clickbank.com. This online business site offers tens of thousands of products for its affiliates and vendors, with up to 75 percent in commissions.
Say that Gale loves training dogs and creates an e-book called “Dog Training 1,2,3” and a simple Web site to promote her e-book. She still needs a way to attract customers and discovers ClickBank to be a unique online retail environment for digital products like her e-book. ClickBank also has more than 100,000 active affiliate marketers ready to promote “Dog Training 1,2,3” in exchange for a commission.
Gale works with ClickBank to suggest the retail price and the affiliate commission she wants to pay for “Dog Training 1,2,3.” She submits her e-book to ClickBank for approval and pays the one-time $49.95 activation fee.
“Dog Training 1,2,3” is now live in the ClickBank Marketplace and available for ClickBank affiliates to promote. ClickBank pays Gale and her affiliates automatically for each sale that occurs.
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FINALLY, IF YOU ARE retired, lonely and bored, retirement planning provides a great opportunity to learn about something you have always wanted to know but never had the time to investigate. This may include investigating a topic that will lead you back to work for money or as a volunteer, perhaps as a sales person or business owner.
Volunteering, seeking employment by others or becoming self-employed – any of these options can be a perfect match for most retirees.
In today’s retirement world, a third of workers age 55 and older who were laid off in the past 12 months and did not find a job said they were considering starting their own business, according to a recent CareerBuilder.com survey.
Further, the age at which entrepreneurs are more innovative and willing to take risks apparently is on the rise. Data from the Kauffman Foundation shows the highest rate of entrepreneurship in America shifted to the 55-64 age group, with people over 55 almost twice as likely to found successful companies than those between 20 and 34, and individuals between the ages of 54 and 64 represented 22.9% of the entrepreneurs who launched businesses in 2010.
Jane C., who recently developed depression over feelings of loss and displacement upon retirement from nursing, says she now finds this state of mind no longer exists even if she has left her profession and friends.
“Sitting home with nothing to do – or even going on cruises or going to retirement financial planning workshops – is not the answer.”
By going “back to work,” in her case a paid tutoring position, she quickly changed from suffering depression to becoming a happier, active person.
“And this is what I wanted all along in my retirement – to have a wonderful, fulfilling rest of my life,” Jane said.