Retiring? Don't Retire Your Mind!

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What is Your Vision of Retirement?

Golfing?  Fishing?  Quilting?  More time with your partner (no, that the partner, the one you married!)?   A few years ago, I heard a talk by a man who had started a business when he was in college that he later sold after it was well established in Canada and the United States.  At first he went on a trip.  Then he decided to live for a year in Europe.  Then he got bored.  He started looking around for something to do.  After experiencing the joys of early retirement, he went back into business.

Now, I'm not advocating that you keep up the insane pace of business or put in more 80 hour weeks, but I would like to suggest that you continue to exercise that professional judgement and experience you have carefully nurtured all these years.  Stay involved in finance, or whatever branch of accounting interests you.  In fact, now you just might be able to attend those courses you never had time for before!

Use Your Expertise

There is a crying need for experienced accountants.  More accountants are currently retiring than joining the profession.  You worked long and hard to develop your skills.  Don't let them collect dust on the shelf.  There are lots of ways to contribute.  You could volunteer for a not-for-profit organization or charity, for example, as a Board member or volunteer.  You could help the accounting profession through the governance structures or research.  You could mentor or train accounting students.  Or you could become a consultant.

Expand and Grow

Take charge of your career.  Only do the things you want to do, but don't limit yourself to the things you have already done.  The cool thing about an accounting career is how transferrable your skills are.  Your professional skepticism and finely honed analytical sense are invaluable in all kinds of situations.   It's time to branch out!

Help Your Community

Did I mention that there's a crying need for experienced accountants?  The need is even greater in the charitable sector.  With new regulations designed to discourage fraudulent charities as well as more complex reporting requirements, accounting for charities is getting increasingly difficult.  Finding an experienced Treasurer is a major challenge for many charities and it could be a very rewarding opportunity for you.

Bottom Line

The bottom line is that volunteering is good for your health, both mental and physical.  This really is a case of "use it or lose it."  The research is clear:

those who volunteer have lower mortality rates, greater functional ability, and lower rates of depression later in life than those who do not volunteer. Comparisons of the health benefits of volunteering for different age groups have also shown that older volunteers are the most likely to receive greater benefits from volunteering, whether because they are more likely to face higher incidence of illness or because volunteering provides them with physical and social activity and a sense of purpose at a time when their social roles are changing. Some of these findings also indicate that volunteers who devote a “considerable” amount of time to volunteer activities (about 100 hours per year) are most likely to exhibit positive health outcomes.

The full report can be found here:  http://www.nationalservice.gov/pdf/07_0506_hbr.pdf

Live long and prosper!

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