7 Things To Try Before You Ditch Retirement

You’ve been retired a year or two. Maybe you’re feeling bored, and perhaps frustrated. You had fun at first – say, for the first 6 months or so – but now the days stretch out endlessly in front of you. You know you have to find something more interesting soon. You may have reached the disenchantment dip, as described by sociologist Robert Atchley. Retirement researchers say this is the point at which retirees either adjust their expectations or rejoin the workforce.

Sure, you could ditch retirement and try to go back to your old routine, but there’s a world of options available to you. In the words of Joseph Campbell, “We must be willing to get rid of the life we planned, so as to have the life that’s waiting for us.” Maybe it’s time to think outside the box for your next endeavor. We’ve compiled a list of some avenues to explore to aid in your discovery.


Encore.org’s tagline – “Purpose, passion, and a paycheck in your second act” – neatly encapsulates the pragmatism that motivates bridge employment. It can be difficult to know where to start when seeking work after retirement. Encore.org is a nonprofit organization designed to help you navigate the job or volunteer opportunities that are available. On Encore.org you’ll also find a section that answers many of your practical questions about re-entering the workforce, from specific questions about switching from the corporate to nonprofit world, to general questions about how to find the best Encore position for you.

On their site, you can read stories and testimonies from other retirees currently enjoying the fruits of their “second act.” You can even find reports detailing why there is a growing need for experienced employees in today’s labor market.

Besides support and advice, you’ll find job listings from employers looking specifically for experienced workers. There’s also an overview of the top encore career fields: health, education, environmental affairs, and governmental positions. If you’re one of the many retirees considering a post-retirement career options that might diverge from your original career, Encore.org can direct you to the many universities offering programs to train retirees planning to re-enter the workforce in a different field than their previous career.


ReServe understands your experience sets you apart from the rest, and can match you with an employer who appreciates the skills you bring from your pre-retirement career. If you want a community-oriented job that offers a flexible schedule, from 10 to 20 hours per week, ReServe offers a wide range of opportunities that meet the criteria.

ReServe works with non-profit, government, and public institutions. Organizations partner with ReServe to staff project-based, contract jobs as well as ongoing positions. If you would like to work in a bridge employment position that gives back to the next generation, ReServe works with a number of non-profit organizations that help disadvantaged children meet academic goals. Reserve is also partnered with Americorps, working to fill positions in education, environmental protection programs, and public safety. In addition to charitable non-profits, you can explore job opportunities with organizations that need help remaining fully staffed with qualified professionals, in positions such as tech support and bookkeeping, to name only a few.

Here is the link to ReServe’s website. Look at their Hot Jobs section to browse the positions currently on offer to ReServe professionals, and check out the easy form to register to receive more information about working with ReServe.


This is the perfect place to begin if you don’t know where to start. Volunteer Match’s website is beautifully simple to use. Simply plug in your location, and pick from a list of causes. Art, education, the disabled, and literacy are some of the options.

If you feel allergic to the notion of a commute, Volunteer Match also features a wide variety of virtual volunteering opportunities. Plenty of organizations need people to help with fundraising campaigns, and could use your extra pair of eyes on their work.


For an even wider range of opportunities, check out Idealist.org. This is a place to connect with nonprofits actively working to create a world “where all people can live free and dignified lives.”

Besides volunteer opportunities, Idealist also offers lists of job and interning opportunities. If you’re interested in making your pet cause a larger part of your life, Idealist has much more to offer than volunteer positions. Volunteering has become an increasingly popular way to segue into a new career.

You can customize your search based on how often you want to volunteer, how long you want the position to last, your interests, and your location. Sign up for Idealist e-mail alerts so you can learn about new ways to help as soon as they’re posted.

Voluntourism (volunteer vacations)

See the world, and make it a better place at the same time. That’s the attraction for a growing number of voluntourists. If you have an idea of where you’d like to travel, you can team up with a group to participate in volunteer activities while abroad.

Idealist is a great place to start looking for opportunities. You’ll find hundreds of ecological and humanitarian causes from around the world. Plant trees in Kenya, help conserve the sea turtle population in Mexico, or volunteer in an Indian orphanage.

Keep in mind, Voluntourism has received a fair amount of criticism. Many have questioned the motivations of volontourists. Do they really want to make a difference or are they just taking an especially novel vacation? Idealist has some great information about evaluating the decision to volunteer abroad.

If you do decide to volunteer abroad, you may want to brush up on your second language of choice. You can find a variety of free crash-courses online. Try Duolingo, for example. Through repetition and visual association, you’ll recall what you learned in school, and then some.

Senior Corps

Americorp’s Senior Corps branch specifically recruits volunteers 55 and up. Volunteers can work anywhere from a couple of hours to 40 per week. Some of these positions offer a modest hourly stipend, and others will compensate for job-related costs.

  • Volunteers can join the RSVP program to help with a wide variety of community-building programs, including teaching English, helping at-risk children in school, and cleaning up after natural disasters.
  • Foster Grandparents take care of children with disabilities, or offer extra mentoring to children who need help in school. If you have experience as a teacher, a parent, or a guardian, you have invaluable life skills to offer.
  • Senior Companions offer companionship and assistance to adults who need help with everyday tasks, such as paying bills and running errands. Your assistance will help keep these adults from institutionalized care.

Lead the way! Become a tour guide.

Are you someone who can browse galleries all day? As a child, did you dream of getting locked in a museum overnight, so you could explore the squeaky halls undisturbed? Get in more quality time with your favorite works of art and historic homes, and share some of the knowledge you’ve gained through your own research.

Visit the website of your favorite museum or historical landmark. They’ll have a page with information for potential volunteers.

Get out the vote.

Political campaigns desperately need volunteers to do much of the nitty-gritty tasks related to getting people to vote. Making calls, stuffing envelopes – it’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it.

In non-election years, you can contact your party of choice for information about what you can do in your community to advance your cause. Exercise your patriotic duty and help citizens become registered voters.

Learn something new on Skillshare

If you’re looking to get back in the workforce, but don’t think you have the right credentials for your desired field, you may have considered taking a class at your local community college. But if you have access to the internet, you have an easier and cheaper option. Skillshare is a budding website for people looking to acquire new skills on their own time.

Teachers you’ll find on Skillshare don’t necessarily have traditional credentials. For an idea of a class’s merit, read what other students have said about the class. Each course has a profile, where users can write reviews and leave a rating.

Prices for individual classes usually range from $20 to $25. You can also sign up for a monthly deal, and pay $9.95 per month for unlimited access. (That’s only a couple bucks more than what you’d pay for Netflix.)

This is also a great site for those of you ready to explore your entrepreneurial spirit. Skillshare offers classes in freelancing, startups, branding, and building a website – anything you can think of that would help you build your very own virtual company.

We invite you to explore and get engaged. Going back to your old work isn’t the only way to feel engaged, productive, and connected.