As I’ve written about before, I occasionally take on a pro bono project in my former field of consulting — sometimes through the Seattle Foundation, and sometimes on my own. Consulting is like that. You can take on a time-limited thing — in this case, a one day non-profit board strategic planning retreat — and get enough of a professional hit without getting in too deeply. You can’t be a pro-bono brain surgeon after you retire. You can’t even give financial advice, other than in a very generic sense, unless you choose to keep up with the field far more than I do. But a one day strategic planning retreat? Yes, I can do that.
Taking on a project now and again is part of my choice to lead a varied life in retirement. Some people commit a lot of time and energy to travel. My sister and brother in law have a friend, like them in her mid-70’s, who takes six major trips a year. Some people do a lot of volunteer work, where they commit to shifts and have to be in a place at a time on a regular basis, just like work. Some people actually do work, either because they have to financially or because they need to in order to continue feeling relevant. Some grandparents are replicating their earlier role of raising a family, either to help out or as a result of a tragedy that requires their daily involvement with grandchildren. A cousin of mine lost her 46 year old son to lupus. She and her husband, now in their mid-70’s, essentially have their four grandchildren several days a week while their mother travels for work in a job that she badly needs to support her children as a newly single parent. That means grandma and grandpa driving to soccer practice, the dentist, clothes shopping, religious instruction — the whole nine yards of meeting the needs of school-age children.
I like to do a little of a lot of things, with my two guidelines being spontaneity and flexibility. If an interesting opportunity comes up, I want to be able to take it … or not. I also like to test my professional capabilities a bit, not a lot, just to see if they’re still there.
So far, so good.