Are you approaching retirement and really don’t want to buy a motor home or just play golf? Do you want to pursue something for the joy of just helping a worthwhile cause?
What a great vision. But let’s avoid one of the first traps which could turn your quest to serve into a complex web of spent energy. To navigate through the maze of good versus great options, consider the following criteria:
a. Something which fulfills your passion to make a difference
b. Something which matches your wiring, your natural talents
At this point, to choose a satisfying opportunity to make a difference, it doesn’t matter if you are thinking part-time, volunteer, overseas or a new paid job in your sweet spot. The key ingredients for all these options are the same: it needs to be fulfilling and it needs to fit your natural strengths.
So, let’s separate these two criteria and then bring them together. First, the passion: Whatever you choose to do, there needs to be that spark of interest, deep value, and joy of making a difference. It can be feeding the hungry, mentoring marginalized youth, raising funds for a new school in your area, or designing the interior of a new nonprofit headquarters building. Some already know a cause worth giving to and others need prompting with some suggestions, like a list of nonprofit organizations. The key point is to direct your passion to serve so that it leads you to a team of like-minded people. That means there are others out there who believe as deeply as you do about a specific cause and together you can make a more significant difference. Just where can you find this team of others? They are working and volunteering for an organization such as Food for the Hungry, Friends of the Children, and Southern California Charter School.
Now that you have found a place where you can serve, the next big question comes up: What is the job title? In order to be in your sweet spot, what will you do with that team of others? lick envelopes? sweep the floors? drive people to the airport? You get it, the job you do is just as important as the organization you join.
You realize that you have to identify two important goals to determine your best service option. You need a type of organization and then the job title in that organization which fits your strengths. Separating the search to identify each of these simplifies the process. Once each part is understood, then you can tie them together like the two sides of a coin.
Now, the final part: If you are considering a commitment more than a few hours a week of volunteer time, like a CEO, Director of Development, or Community Relations Specialist, you will need to determine how your 38 years of occupational skills will transfer to this new field you want to pursue. This all begins with the familiar informational interview. The interview helps confirm the organization and position you are seeking, but also helps you get some insider tips on how to get hired.
Most boomers I counsel do not want to go back to school and most certainly do not want an entry level job. They want some level of responsibility and challenge which they have experienced in their work life.
This sounds like a lot to do, and it is. But, you can spend your time driving in circles or driving in a straight line which will get you where you want to go.
Persevere, you can do it!