Life Stories: George Tillett on a Positive Retirement

One of the keys to enjoying retirement is finding ways to continue to achieve the things you unknowingly get from working life.

Investing time in your psychological planning is just as important as planning your finances, to support the life you want to lead.

Research has shown that those people who have put some real thought into what they want to do in retirement, are happiest.

George Tillett may have cracked this, the 75-year-old engineer is spending his retirement helping others through volunteering for TAD, converting ride-on cars for children with disabilities.

When we found out he’d been awarded the Senior Volunteer of the Year NSW last year, we just had to speak with him more and share his story.

Treysta (T): How did you get involved with TAD Disability Services?

George Tillett (GT): An older workmate, who we had known for many years and who volunteered for TAD said to me “you have to join TAD when you retire”. The bulk of TAD volunteers are retired engineers.

T: What impact has your contribution to the projects and creations had on your life?

GT: A greater appreciation of the difficulties many people with disabilities face, and how often simple things can make life better for them. Also how many things we take for granted.

T: How did it feel to be recognised for all your hard work with the recent Senior Volunteer of the Year Award?

GT: Humbling, attending the awards conference with my wife Jenny made us appreciate what a wonderful depth and breadth there are to volunteers of all ages and skills, both individually and groups.

I think the nature of the motorized cars and the children involved caught the judges eyes. (Here is a link to the segment on Channel Nine that ran last year.)

T: When did you retire and was it a difficult decision to make?

GT: I retired six years ago and although I very much enjoyed my job, I was ready. From a financial point of view being made redundant was a help.

T: What was your main focus during the majority of your career?

GT: The installation and maintenance of large scale computers, mainly the hardware side. This involved a lot of travel around Australia, New Zealand and the USA. This did mean that my wife Jenny was the mainstay for raising our 3 boys as I was often away from home at short notice and sometimes overseas for months at a time. Sometimes they could accompany me to the USA. (Our oldest son was born in Washington DC in 1968).

T: Had you always planned to volunteer and continue using your knowledge and expertise when it came to retirement?

GT: The workmate mentioned before knew some of the founders of TAD and often talked about the organization so the idea was fixed in my head for many years.

T: Many people struggle with the idea of finishing work and fear feeling ‘lost’ without the direction and structure day to day, did this ever occur to you?

GT: Definitely no, family and friends have always been a big part of our lives and volunteering just adds to being busy. We moved into a retirement village 3 years ago on the recommendation of some other retirees who said “don’t wait until it is too late when something happens to one of you, make the move while you are both fit and well and able to share the downsizing and moving”  Our new home is not far from our old one so we have kept contact with friends and facilities in our old area as well as making new friends in the village.

T: How do you maintain a sense of well-being and contentment in your day-to-day?

GT: Together with some other residents in the village I assist with technical issues that residents may have with their computers, TVs, internet etc. We have made some wonderful new friends in the village and join in some of the many activities available.

Jenny volunteers in the cafe, I am one of the bus drivers taking the village bus on outings and the shops.

T: What advice would you give to those coming up to retirement – or seeing it on the horizon in the next 5 years or so?

GT: Have a look at your lifestyle overall, apart from work where do you and your partner spend time and enjoy life. Seriously consider volunteering, everyone has skills that can be used.

We’ve written about Staying Active in Business during Retirement and Happiness in Retirement previously, if you’d like to keep reading around this.

Or, as always, we’d love to hear from you if you have any questions or concerns.