Pro Bono Work: The “Active” Retirement

11/18/2019 - Retirement
Retired man doing pro bono work on computer

What would you like to accomplish in retirement?  It’s a question I always ask my clients. My goal is to help them create a plan that feels both emotionally fulfilling and productive. Retirement offers incredible potential. For many people, it’s the first time in their adult lives when they don’t have a full slate of responsibilities—a desk to report to or kids to shuttle to and from school. And that means they can pursue wilder dreams than they may have had time for previously: building a non-profit to support the cause closest to their heart, traveling to exotic locales, or mastering the art of béchamel in a French culinary program, for example.  

But more often than not, when I ask about what they’d like to accomplish once they clock out for the last time, the response I get isn’t very… ambitious. Instead, most clients respond with, “Absolutely nothing.” They picture themselves spending their days lazing on a beach, putting in long hours on the putting green, or sailing into the sunset—perhaps with a grandchild or two by their side. And I don’t blame them. 

It makes perfect sense to fantasize about endless hours of rest and relaxation when you’re in the thick of your working years. But what most people don’t realize is that just a short time in, all of that R&R becomes a little routine—and that routine quickly turns to boredom. It’s then that a key truth becomes evident: When it comes to retirement, purpose is crucial. 

What does purpose look like? It’s different for everyone. But many find that integrating a little pro bono work into their regularly scheduled retirement programming makes a tremendous difference in their lives. 

With your bills paid and kids out of the house, retirement can be the perfect time to lend the skills you’ve honed over the course of your career to a worthy cause for little to no cost—particularly if you love what you do. 

I’ve watched so many clients find fulfillment through pro bono work. Attorneys who take on cases for people in need. Accountants who offer tax advice to organizations dedicated to the public good. Contractors who collaborate with other members of their community to build houses for the homeless. In the end, they found that it was about more than just doing good. It also gave them an opportunity to connect socially and use their minds and their bodies. It gave them a reason beyond early tee time to get up in the morning. And that is just priceless. 

For more information on how to build a meaningful retirement, check out my book, You’re Retired, Now What?

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