Be green, recycle!

This is Earth Day. I see bikes everywhere and people going the extra mile to be green conscious. As I thought about areas where I could go greener or add information about recycling, I realized that as a trainer of retirees, I could get a different point of view on recycling: PEOPLE.

People, their interests, talents, skills, and experience, can be used, reused, and recycled, just like a wood product. Could you recycle yourself? If you are over 50 years old, I am 100% sure the answer is YES.

Reduce talent waste

Bob is a 62-year-old retired aerospace engineer. He retired from Raytheon two years ago and now regularly meets with his friends to play golf and poker. He is healthy and runs a mile every morning. Bob has a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and a master’s degree in mechanical engineering.

Cheryl is a retired school teacher. She is in good health and loves to travel. She used to teach geography classes and sometimes substitute for the French and Spanish teachers, as she is almost fluent in both and loves the languages. Now, using her teacher’s pension, Cheryl takes at least three trips abroad each year, visiting areas she has read about and taught about but has never seen.

Reuse skills and experience

Schools and tutoring centers across the country desperately need teachers and tutors to help kids with all levels of math. Bob could recycle his math and science skills by getting involved in schools and after school programs in his local area. If he could dedicate even one afternoon a week, he would make a difference in his community. A struggling student who, through Bob, finds the key to understanding fractions or conquering algebraic equations could be a future aerospace engineer.

Thousands of refugees arrive in the US each year without even a reasonable command of the English language. Cheryl could reuse her language skills by teaching ESL to adults in evening school programs. She could also lead tours to places she has become familiar with since she retired. Both require the unique talents and experience that Cheryl has accumulated throughout her life.

Preparing to recycle your skills

Here is what you can do to prepare to recycle yourself:

1. Create a list of your skills, talents, experience – all the skills you have developed and honed throughout your life.

2. Ask three people who know you what else you could add to your list (we often leave out or dismiss skills that others appreciate in us)

3. Highlight those things on your list that you really enjoy

4. Cross off your list of those things that you whose to enjoy

5. Take a good look at the resulting list and name as many uses for these talents as you can. Think about:

· Whose might find them valuable?

· Where could you use them?

· How can you use them?

· When can you use them?

Now it is up to you to determine how much available time you are willing to devote to this effort. If you’re still making a living, it’ll probably be limited, and if you’ve retired from your middle-aged career, you may have more hours available.

Everyone knows something that they can reuse and recycle. The older you get, the more you know. To me, it is the epitome of waste to let these talents sit idle when there is so much need for them in the world. So go green…recycle yourself!