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Finding Meaning After Retirement: Volunteering is The Start of Fulfilling Your True Purpose

Retirement marks the end of a major chapter in one’s life but it can be the beginning of a new, deeply fulfilling season where one’s life experiences and skills come together to culminate in the fulfillment of one’s true purpose. This transition into retirement is not about stepping away from active involvement with others; rather, it’s about stepping into new roles that harness the wisdom gained from a lifetime of experiences.

embrace retirement: volunteer for a fulfilling journey

The Misconception of Retirement as the End

Many perceive retirement as a time to slow down, often described metaphorically as being "put out to pasture." However, this outdated notion fails to recognize the potential that this phase of life holds. After decades of cultivating skills, solving problems, and navigating complex social dynamics, retirees are uniquely equipped to contribute in meaningful ways that were not possible during their working years.

Rediscovering Yourself in Retirement

Retirement is an ideal time for introspection and rediscovery. It's a period when people can reflect on what truly matters to them—beyond the pressures and demands of full-time work. This might involve pursuing passions that were set aside for career and family or discovering entirely new interests that ignite a sense of joy and purpose.

Embracing New Opportunities

For many, finding purpose after retirement could mean starting a new business that aligns more closely with personal passions or values, or perhaps diving into a completely different field that always piqued interest but was never pursued. With access to online learning and community workshops, there’s never been a better time to explore something new or to reconnect with some aspect of a childhood dream.

The Power of Volunteering in Retirement

Finding Purpose: Helping Others

For some, volunteering offers a rewarding avenue to utilize their accumulated knowledge and skills for the betterment of society. Engaging in volunteer work can connect retirees with like-minded individuals and causes, enriching their lives while making tangible differences in the lives of others. This not only utilizes their valuable skill sets but also provides emotional and psychological benefits, strengthening their overall well-being.

The True Measures of Success

As retirees embark on these new paths, they often find that success takes on a new meaning. It's no longer about climbing the corporate ladder or increasing one's material wealth. Instead, success is measured by the richness of relationships, the peace and joy experienced daily, and the wellness of both body and mind. Fulfilling one’s purpose often leads to a more balanced life, encompassing all facets of true success.

Health Benefits of Volunteering in Retirement

Research has consistently shown that volunteering in retirement offers significant health benefits among older adults. Studies highlight several key health improvements related to volunteering:

Volunteering in retirement brings fulfillment and joy to both the volunteer and the community

1. Physical and Mental Health: Engaging in volunteer activities helps maintain physical and cognitive functions. It can lead to improved overall health, increased physical activity, and better cognitive functioning due to the mental stimulation and social interactions involved in volunteering. These activities help in maintaining a healthier lifestyle, which can slow physical and cognitive decline often associated with aging.

2. Psychological Well-Being: Volunteering provides psychological benefits such as a higher self-esteem and a sense of personal control. It can also offer a distraction from one’s physical or personal problems, fostering a more positive attitude. Volunteering has been linked to reduced symptoms of depression and a lower incidence of severe health issues like hypertension.

3. Longevity: The act of volunteering has been associated with lower mortality rates. Older adults who volunteer regularly tend to live longer and healthier lives compared to their non-volunteering counterparts. This connection is attributed to the combination of physical activity, mental engagement, and social interactions that volunteering fosters.

4. Social Benefits: Volunteering in retirement helps expand social networks and increase social interactions, which are crucial for mental health and well-being. It provides a sense of community and belonging, helping to counteract feelings of loneliness and social isolation that many experience in older age

Engaging in volunteer work can provide retirees not just with a sense of purpose but also tangible benefits to their physical and mental health as well as benefits to the community.


finding meaning in helping others is where true fulfillment lies

Retirement isn’t the finale; it’s the freedom to write a new act in your life’s play, one that could be the most impactful yet. It’s an exciting time filled with opportunities to apply a lifetime of lessons to activities that foster growth, happiness, and fulfillment. Whether through entrepreneurship, continuing education, or volunteering, each activity is a step towards realizing a fulfilling post-retirement life. This phase can be the very embodiment of achieving real success—defined not just by what you accomplish or possess, but by how it enriches your life and the lives of others around you.

Rhonda Sciortino photo and logo @rhondasciortino
Rhonda Sciortino

Rhonda Sciortino worked her way from foster care to millionaire (the title of her first book), and then realized that having the houses and cars and all the other trappings of financial success didn't guarantee healthy relationships, peace, joy, and a sense of well-being. Rhonda sold Child Welfare Insurance Services, launched Successful Survivors Foundation, an educational 501 c 3 non profit organization, and has never looked back. Everything she does is measured against whether or not it moves her closer to the fulfillment of her purpose. For info on the purposeful things to which she contributes, see



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