If the thought of Elderhostel doesn’t excite you, you’re not alone. Despite what financial-planning commercials show, not every retiree wants to tour Italy with other seniors,
nor do they want to babysit their grandchildren full time, says
psychologist Robert P. Delamontagne, PhD, author of the 2010
book “The Retiring Mind.” Thriving during this life stage, he
says, requires you to pinpoint the activities that keep you as
engaged — or even more so — as you were during your career.
Unfortunately, such post-career fulfillment eludes many
W. Rodney Hammond, PhD
retirees. “Most people don’t know what makes them happy,” he
adds. “You have to really learn to understand yourself during
Here’s guidance from seven psychologists who found their
Berkeley Lake, Ga.
Retired in: 2011 as head of the Division of Violence Prevention
at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.
His adventure: Hammond draws on his psychology training
and leadership skills to serve as head of the Planning and
Zoning Commission of his town of Berkeley Lake, Ga. In that
role, Hammond makes decisions about public land use and
development and keeps builders in compliance with city code.
It’s a job that often involves expert negotiating skills, such as
when a homeowner wants to build too close to a neighbor or
a developer needs to include more green space in his office
building plans. “It can be an exercise in balancing interests that
has been very rewarding,” he says.
When he’s not donning a hard hat: Since his zoning position
ends in January, Hammond ran for City Council this fall — and
won. To stay involved in the mental health field, he is also serving
on the Carter Center’s mental health task force, on APA’s Task
Force on Gun Violence, and on the Board of Trustees for a local
child foster care agency called Neighbors to Family. The agency
works to keep siblings together in foster care based on research
findings that Hammond often touted during his time at the
CDC. “If you can keep siblings together, the long-term outcomes
for these children are much better,” he says.
His advice: Learn the art of declining opportunities
gracefully without closing the doors on prospects that might
be more appealing down the road, he says. “You really have to
manage your time in the face of many, many opportunities that,
if you are not careful, will consume you,” he says. Hammond
also makes sure that his service responsibilities can fit between
10 a.m. and 2 p.m. each day. The rest of his time he devotes to
leisure activities, such as walking with his wife or swimming
laps. He encourages fellow psychologists to embrace their
versatile skill sets when they consider their post-retirement
possibilities. “Psychology prepares you for anything,” he says.
A new chapter
Seven psychologists prove there’s no mandatory retirement age.
BY JAMIE CHAMBERLIN • Monitor staff
Video: Take a tour of the Howlmore Animal
Sanctuary in Columbia, S.C., with its founder Dr.
Linda Moore and volunteer Dr. Michael Sullivan.