Skip to Content
Resource Articles //

Why Giving Back May Be Better Than Kicking Back During Post-Career Retirement

Helping to effect social change can make your retirement more fulfilling.

Every day, 10,000 Americans reach retirement age.* That means, every day, thousands of people face the question: what now? If you’re like many of those who are approaching retirement, you’re looking forward to no longer having to show up to work every morning; however, you might not be ready to completely separate yourself from the working environment. The good news is, you don’t have to. The end of your career can be the beginning of something new and deeply meaningful. By devoting your retirement to helping others, you can help effect social change and enjoy your retirement even more. Here’s why.

We Need a Purpose to Be Happy

Even though most of us look forward to retirement, moving on from a job can leave us unhappy. This is because having a job makes us feel like we’re contributing. It also gives us the satisfaction of solving problems, allows us to form relationships with fellow workers, and eliminates the constant question of what to do next. Without a job, it’s easy to feel lost. However, holding down a regular job is not the only way to feel as if you have a purpose. You can enjoy all the psychological benefits of having a job by joining or running an organization devoted to helping others.

Why Giving Back May Be Better Than Kicking Back During Post-Career Retirement

Having a Post-Retirement Plan Can Help Our Relationships

Many couples have a financial plan for retirement but lack an emotional one. The result is that retirement can be surprisingly stressful on a relationship. Sometimes couples don’t know how to relate to each other with so much time on their hands. Other times, one or both partners feel lost after leaving a lifelong career. As such, it can be quite beneficial to your relationship if you plan ahead for how you’ll spend your retirement time. Since “watching TV” is not a satisfying plan for most of us, you’ll likely want to find something meaningful to do with your time—like helping others.

Helping Others Improves Our Health and Well-Being

Altruism is good for the mind and body. Over the years, research has demonstrated time and again that helping others can improve our health, happiness, and, in some cases, even our longevity. What’s the point of retirement if not to enjoy our time? By helping others, you can improve the likelihood that you’ll enjoy a happier and healthier life.

It’s Easier Than Ever to Make a Substantial Difference

While some charitable organizations don’t require you to have any special knowledge in order to lend them a hand, there’s only so much you can achieve as an unskilled volunteer. If you want to make a substantial difference, you will likely need a specific skill. In particular, managerial skills can be of great benefit, whether you’re starting your own charitable or social change organization or whether you want to become a leader at an existing organization. Fortunately, thanks to online education, acquiring new skills has never been easier—even for those of retirement age.

Through an online university, you can earn a business degree or management degree, such as an MS in Nonprofit Management and Leadership. You can then use your new degree to help you achieve real social change. In the past, earning any of these degrees would have required you to find a local university with a class schedule that worked with your schedule. When you enroll at an online university, you’ll be able to learn from home in a convenient and flexible format that works with your life. Plus, you’ll study in an environment geared for adult learners.

There’s no reason to hold back when giving back. Through an online graduate degree program, you can acquire the skills you need to truly help others. It’s a great way to make your retirement years as fulfilling as possible.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering online graduate degree programs. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.

*D. Cohn and P. Taylor, Baby Boomers Approach 65—Glumly, Pew Research Center, on the Internet at

†M. Lewis, Life After Retirement—What Do I Do Now?, Forbes, on the Internet at

‡P. Moeller, Why Helping Others Makes Us Happy, U.S. News and World Report, on the Internet at

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,