The Selfishness Of Retiring, The Possibility of Volunteering

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I made my decision to retire almost a year ago. At the time I gave myself an arbitrary amount of time to flounder: a year. I told myself that I would take the first year to recover, to explore and to relax. As my first year anniversary approaches, I wonder if continuing to stay retired is selfish?

Questioning My Life’s Purpose.

When you have the privilege of being able to choose how you want to spend your time, the question of your life’s purpose stands front and centre. Am I making my life’s purpose my enjoyment?***  That sounds selfish. 

What is the purpose of life?  That question is too big to explore in one post. Although, I feel like I have been exploring the purpose of life this whole time on my blog. Trying to understand how to live and grow is my life’s purpose. But is that selfish, when I focus solely on my growth?

What About Others And Community?

At first, I saw volunteering as a means to an end, or as something that fills important gaps. According to Statistics Canada, “about 8 in 10 Canadians volunteered their time in 2018.”* Volunteering to get experience in a field of interest made sense to me. It’s a good way to help others, while building up your resume with skills relevant to a career, for which you hope to one day receive a salary. Volunteering because you see a need in an institution that is under-funded and cannot survive without unpaid labour (food banks, crisis call centres, hospice, tutoring, environmental clean-ups) also made sense to me. Is volunteering necessary to make retirement feel less selfish?

Volunteering In Retirement

Of my retired friends, some volunteer and some do not. Surprisingly, “both formal and informal volunteering was more commonly reported by younger generations, though the hours spent volunteering were far greater among older Canadians.”* The volunteer organizations I am familiar with rely on retired folks to run their programmes. A retired person with energy, a flexible schedule and a car is the backbone of any volunteer organization. 

“The oldest generations were much more likely to be considered the top volunteers, defined as the 25% of volunteers who provide the most hours.”*

Statistics Canada 2018

Add in any skills that retired folks bring from their former careers and that makes them priceless (which of course they are, since they’re not getting paid). 

Volunteering While Retired 

I have volunteered while also working but I haven’t done it while retired.  A recent CBC article on volunteering, notes that many non-profit organizations (65%) are desperate for volunteers right now and have had to cut services to survive.**  This adds more urgency to my decision. I feel like I’m at a crossroads of choosing to put my energy into volunteering and/or to explore re-employment. 

Interested in volunteering? Click here and explore the opportunities from Volunteer Canada.




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