“Retirement is not the end of your productive part of life, it should just be a new beginning!” says Dick Nogaj, author of “Don’t Retire, Get Inspired.” He feels the old notion of retiring on a golf course and settling into a sedentary life in the pursuit of happiness has left a lot of people unhappy and unfulfilled.
Nogaj says that retirement should really be considered a time of transition, “In retirement, people may retire from a salary, but it opens up new opportunities for them to be productive doing the things they love to do and working in what they choose to do.” They may choose to do something that is very different than what they have done their whole life. He says, “Retirement is a time to give back and provides the rewards of fulfillment, something many may have not fully experienced in their ‘working’ years.”
He speaks from experience. Since childhood, Nogaj had a dream to make the world a better place. As he was preparing to sell his successful engineering firm of 20 years, RJN Group, Inc., Dick and his wife Florence established the RJN Foundation, a charitable organization whose mission is to provide resources and financial assistance to not-for-profit programs that focus on areas of human services. In the following year, 1995, they founded DuPage Habitat for Humanity, a local affiliate of Habitat for Humanity® International. DuPage Habitat for Humanity builds affordable housing, and over the years has enabled 35 limited-income families to purchase homes in DuPage County. Since then, he and Florence have founded and run other not-for-profit organizations as a way to share their wealth and experience and provide a helping hand to those in need.
Nogaj notes, “As people go through life, many put the passions of their early years aside for other pursuits. They lose the fire in their belly. But if they see retirement as a chance to finally do what they really love, it isn’t work anymore. It is a tremendous gift.”
In contemplating retirement, Nogaj noted, “We did some extensive planning at the front end. We considered what we could afford and what we envisioned we could do. I had my experience in running a firm and Florence had her experience in public administration and accounting.” He added, “We didn’t know all the hurdles, but we knew that this step was based on faith and our spiritual relationship. We had to rely on a lot of prayer and just holding hands and embracing the place where we were. Sometimes we didn’t know if it was going to work or not. Along the way we encountered a lot a miracles and angels. We always felt we weren’t walking alone.”
Nogaj says one of the first steps in thinking about your “next act” is to know that you have options to make the right choices. He notes, “You don’t have to jump in the deep end of the pool like Florence and I did. You can take small steps to test the waters. Think about what you have to give back. What amount of time, talent and treasure are you willing to invest? Ask yourself, ‘What can I afford to put on the line and put at risk? What could I do with this; could I do something I’ve always dreamed of doing? Is there something I wish to do to benefit others and also benefit myself?’ When you give back, you get back.”
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Posted on Sat, January 1, 2011