Having the Time of Their Lives: An Unconventional Retirement
Finding Enough Time in the Day
It is an undisputed fact that there are only 24 hours in every day. It often feels that our “me time” is so scarce that we need to hold on tight to what little we can muster and guard it from intrusion. That’s why it wasn’t surprising that when Gordon and Wendy Baergen chose to retire early, their friends imagined the couple would spend their days following leisurely pursuits. Instead, the Baergens have chosen to spend much of their retirement volunteering with a variety of charities – giving their time away.
“A lot of the people we know think we’re crazy!” says Wendy. “ It is true that we are very busy but it’s our choice to spend much of our time doing charity work,” adds Gordon matter-of-factly. Indeed, as they do these things in the service of others, they enjoy travelling to far off places and spending sunny days out in the local neighbourhood, but they do these things in the service of others.
This may not be such a ‘crazy’ choice after all. Contrary to popular belief, studies show that giving our time away might be the key to finding those elusive extra hours in the day.
Studies show that giving our time away might be the key to finding those elusive extra hours in the day.
Looking Beyond “Me Time”
In a 2012 study, researchers conducted a series of four experiments that compared spending time on other people to wasting time, spending time selfishly, and having unrestricted “free time”. In the end, they determined that spending time serving others not only made people feel better about themselves, but also left them feeling less time-constrained.
Abundance Canada clients Gordon and Wendy Baergen have certainly found that giving their time away has been a major source of joy as they pursue an unconventional retirement.
They determined that spending time serving others not only made people feel better about themselves, but also left them feeling less time-constrained.
Giving the Time of Their Lives
The Baergens are humble in talking about the many places they volunteer and appreciate the privilege of being able to serve others in this way.
“Fortunately, we’re in a position of having enough time, personal wealth, and health that we can [volunteer],” says Wendy. They both agree that, “it’s really being available for people who need help, whenever they need help.”
It’s really being available for people who need help, whenever they need help.
In addition to their local commitments, the Baergens’ volunteer work often takes them abroad. With Mennonite Disaster services, they have helped rebuild in New Orleans, Virginia, Detroit, and High River. Following a 2010 trip to Honduras with Canadian Peacemakers International, a charity that works to provide poor families in Honduras with homes and education, the Baergens began serving as learning tour leaders. They have since organized and run five group trips to Honduras.
When asked if they have advice for people looking to give back, Gordon says. “Get out and see the world. Volunteer. Go and do something for somebody else.”
 Mogliner, C., Chance, Z., & Norton, M. I. (2012, October 1). Giving Time Gives You Time. Psychological Science, 1233-1238.