Retiree helps others plan for ‘Life After Work’
Dianna L. Cagle, BR Assistant Managing Editor
September 21, 2009

Retiree helps others plan for ‘Life After Work’

Retiree helps others plan for ‘Life After Work’
Dianna L. Cagle, BR Assistant Managing Editor
September 21, 2009

No one is ever fully ready to retire.

“I was thinking that after I retired things would be a piece of cake,” said John Eckman, a member of Fairview Baptist Church in Statesville.

Eckman, originally from Detroit, Mich., was a community relations officer and police officer for the Statesville Police Department for 30 years before he retired 13 years ago.

“Before I retired I was a little naïve,” he said. “If you want it to be a piece of cake you have to make the cake. In other words you have to prepare.”

Contributed photo

John Eckman

Many companies have retirement seminars for their employees, but Eckman said those mostly prepare you financially.

He is not discounting financial preparation because he knows how important it is. He took part-time jobs after retirement because he didn’t think of the financial hit his family would take.

Another aspect he didn’t think about was boredom.

“I just assumed living day to day was going to take care of itself,” Eckman said. “Career becomes a big part of their life.”

Filling that time and finding fulfillment with his time proved to be a challenge. Eckman prefers to call retirement “entering your new life.”

Three years ago, Eckman’s wife, Jane, retired. Her company held a seminar for employees who were about to retire and their spouses. While he thought the company did a great job of talking about the financial issues, he was most impressed with a video they showed about what retirees did after they left their job.

But Eckman said they still didn’t go far enough with dealing with the emotions that come when you no longer have something to fill your days. After all, many people could have 20 or 30 more years yet to live, Eckman said.

Creates own workshop

So Eckman created and leads workshops called Life After Work where he encourages people to plan better. He encourages people to examine the aspects of the job they like and look for ways to use those strengths to help others.

“A person has to look at what was important to them,” Eckman said. “Volunteer work is ideal for that.”

He said energetic people who worked to advance within their company can transfer that ambition to a civic organizations or other non-profit or even start another career. Some go back to school. Retirees can take on projects and develop friendships to fill their newfound time, or tutor or mentor others.

“There are just a lot of things that people don’t think about,” he said.

Contact Eckman at [email protected].

Some opportunities to consider:

  • Your local church — Most churches have ongoing projects to help maintain the building, build up leaders within the church or to reach out to those less fortunate. A need always exists for teachers, office volunteers and nursery workers.
  • Your local association — Throughout North Carolina, 80 Baptist associations minister with local churches in the community at large. Some operate clothing ministries or do big projects like state fair ministry or Christmas toy collections to help families.
  • Baptist State Convention “Our job is to help them plug in through their local church,” said Eddie Thompson, senior consultant with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC). The BSC helps churches reach this demographic with retreats and discipleship events. The Fall Senior Adult Conferences Oct. 19-21 and Oct. 26-28 are based on the book of Daniel to encourage faithful living in tough times. Call Patti Cardwell at (800) 395-5102, ext. 5635.
  • N.C. Baptist Aging Ministry NCBAM provides resources to seniors and their families to help with practical needs. It offers churches resources to meet senior adults’ needs and challenge them to serve.
  • North Carolina Baptist Men N.C. Baptist Men offer volunteer projects in N.C., in the U.S. and around the world with partnership opportunities as well as one-time mission trips. Volunteers can be trained in disaster relief or plan a sports camp in your local park.
  • Woman’s Missionary Union of North Carolina WMU-NC is all about missions. There are many opportunities at local churches, associations and at the state level to serve your community and all around the world.
  • North American Mission BoardThe Bridge is a site that connects volunteers with missions projects. Visit www.thebridge.namb.net. There are self-funded Mission Service Corps (MSC) opportunities for four months or more for those who want to volunteer.
  • International Mission Board The Masters Program is designed for those 50 or older who are available to make a two or three-year commitment to serve overseas utilizing the maturity, skills, and experience they have gained over their lifetime.