The Wonder Years?

Photos: Amazing Late Bloomers Christopher Little / Corbis

Within the next 20 years, 78 million baby boomers will be retiring. If you’re one of them, this phase in your life could be a time of renewed activity, the chance to shift gears to an entirely different type of pursuit. “People think of retirement now as a time to do things they didn’t have time to do before,” says Melissa Hardy, professor of sociology and demography at Pennsylvania State University. But identifying what will be most fulfilling can be daunting. If you’re looking for a little guidance, these organizations can help you discover your true passion and make the most of your retirement years.

Experience Corps
If you’re interested in volunteer work, Experience Corps, an award-winning national program, offers a solid option. This group pairs those 55 and older with elementary-school-aged children who are struggling to learn to read. Independent research has shown that program results are beneficial all around. Students experience a boost to academic performance, while older adults see an enhancement in their well-being.

Experience Matters
This organization trains companies to provide meaningful work to retiree volunteers. When a volunteer takes part in the program, he or she is matched with one of the group’s network of nonprofits, corporations, and individuals.

Discovering What’s Next
If you need assistance transitioning from midlife to retirement, then this venture may be a good option. The organization relies on volunteers to provide peer-to-peer information exchanges, and has training for those who want to explore encore careers, in addition to workshops and small discussion groups.

Revolutionize Retirement
This group offers individualized, one-on-one coaching and training in developing your encore career. Through retirement boot camps, such as weekend retreats at a yoga center, boomers identify their passion so they can decide on the most fulfilling way to spend their retirement years.

Vocation Vacations
Looking to try something new on a trial basis? Customers (who can be any age) pay an average of $899, plus airfare, room, and lodging, for a weekend-long career mentorship with a leader in a field they’re considering pursuing. They can choose from among 500 mentors in every type of field, including nonprofit director, vineyard owner, and actor.