As much as I hate having to get up every morning and go to work, there is a reason. Although some might disagree, I believe that I can help others and I have watched people go from struggling to living over my career. It’s a privilege to watch my patients transform and I am honored to be on their journey with them. I must admit that I have tried to transition my career into another area, but I have always been pulled back to direct service, providing support to patients who need help in many different ways. I have come to understand that it is my purpose, and even more, that everyone needs a purpose.
As I provide support to people going through transitions, I have worked with people retiring from their life long careers, and with people forced out of work due to medical and other issues. For many, making the transition to not working any more is one of the hardest. As much as we complain about going to work every day, it helps us define who we are. It also gives us hope for the future, keeps our minds occupied, and gives us a reason to get out of bed. When that goes away, we have to redefine who we become, and sometimes, people have trouble understanding who they become. For so many, without the work that defined them for so long, they begin to feel useless, hopeless, and alone. That begins a period of depression that can be hard to pull out of without support.
Depression is a slippery slope, that can define people at times. For many of my patients, they begin to remain at home, not leaving the house even to go shopping. They become inactive, and start to wonder what’s the reason for living. They withdraw from the people and things that could lead to a better path. I have learned over the years that people need people. People help people remember they are important. Family and friends are part of our connections to community, just like jobs are a big part of feeling connected to our community during our working years. When we make he transition to retirement, we have to find other ways to stay connected to the community.
Some people join groups to become active and stay involved. Others, who struggle on their incomes, continue working part time doing something they enjoy. Some people volunteer. I remember in high school, we had many volunteers providing support to the music program. Their kids had long graduated but they found something they enjoyed and stayed to provide support. It doesn’t matter what you do, stay connected to your community. Find something you enjoy, whether it’s playing cards at the local senior center or working part time bagging groceries, do something that keeps you out and about. There are some people who can enjoy being home, but for most, people need people.
When you begin planning to stop working, no matter what the reason, remember to start thinking about what comes next. Don’t withdraw, stay active. Join a group that walks every day. Become a part of the local community, providing support to others. Your community still needs you, from your knowledge to your hands to help. You still have a contribution to make, so don’t get stuck watching your television. Get out and keep making a difference. It’s part of being happy, for life.