What game are you watching that you’d rather be playing?
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What game are you watching that you’d rather be playing?

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Written by Kathy Gale, Executive Director of ERAs Senior Network and member of Retire United

December 18, 2017

John C. Maxwell, New York Times bestselling author, coach, and speaker is identified as the #1 leader in business by the American Management Association.  His books include The 21 Indispensable Qualities of  A Leader, Failing Forward, How Successful People Lead, and many more.  His most current book is entitled Intentional Living:  Choosing a Life That Matters.

Maxwell describes a time during his adolescence when he wanted to play football, but never moved from intention to action.  As a result, he could only watch his friends play, and never had a role on the team.  Maxwell proposes that as we move into different phases, or eras, of our lives, we need to be intentional about our goals and dreams and transform intentions into actions.  “Intentional living is the bridge that will lead you to a life that matters.  Good intentions won’t get you there.”  Action, not just a desire.  A purpose, not only a wish.  Today, not someday.

Ironically, retirement can first appear to be a time of freedom and inaction.  Less meetings, less deadlines, less responsibility, less expectations.  Initially this can be liberating, but after the first weeks of waking up without the crushing stress of a job, it becomes clear that without intention and action, there is a lack of purpose.  This new era of life demands your intention so that you find your purpose, and lead a life that matters.

The beauty of Intentional Living is that you get to shape your dreams, goals, and wishes.  Once you begin to determine your direction, there are individuals and organizations eager to welcome you into actions that will create the bridge that helps you lead a life that matters.

Philosopher and author Parker Palmer wrote “Our real freedom comes from being aware that we do not have to save the world, we must merely make a difference in the place where we live.”  Where do you want to begin?  What game would you like to play?  Perhaps you have a love of arts that you could nurture in an arts therapy program.  Are you hoping to improve reading scores for local students?  Do you want to understand what is making young people so lonely and desperate that they are turning to heroin as an escape?  You are needed.  Get involved. Join United Way's Retire United donor network. Visit United Way’s volunteer website or call Lori Hayes at 262-409-2414 to get started, or call ERAs Senior Network at 262-549-3348 to find out more.

The benefits are endless…

After just one year of service[i]

  • Nearly half of senior volunteers reported improved health and wellbeing, and more than one-third initially reporting they were in good health, reported improved health at the end of the one-year period.
  • Almost two-thirds of senior volunteers reported a decrease in feelings of isolation, and 67% of those who first reported they “often” lack companionship, reported improved social connections
  • 70% of senior volunteers who initially reported five or more symptoms of depression reported fewer symptoms at the end of the first year, while 63% of volunteers initially reporting three or four symptoms of depression also report fewer systems.


About the author:
Gale has served as Executive Director for ERAs Senior Network since 2001. The mission of ERAs Senior Network (ERAs) is to support and engage Waukesha County seniors and adults with disabilities in leading meaningful lives. Our goals are to support seniors as they age, engage seniors in meaningful volunteer service in schools and nonprofit agencies, and lead system change through collaborative work and advocacy. The vision of the agency is to be THE nonprofit leader in creating communities where seniors and adults with disabilities are fully embraced through collaborative partnerships, coordination of services, and intergenerational volunteer activities. The agency is a product of a 2007 merger of two nonprofits (Interfaith Caregiving Network, started in 1991 and the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program, incorporated in 1981).


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