Guest post by Doug Nordman, founder of The-Military-Guide.com
Someday after you leave the military, you're going to retire from earning a paycheck.
Maybe you had a long military career and that pension covers your expenses. Perhaps you enjoyed a civilian career after the military, and now you have enough savings to enjoy a permanent retirement. Maybe you really want to work for the rest of your life, but your body can no longer tolerate the physical effort. Even if you wanted to work, the corporation could have abruptly pushed you out the door and you're not getting any other job offers. Or possibly you're an entrepreneur who finally sold their business and doesn't want to start a new one.
However you reach your retirement, it's a huge life change. As you make the transition, it's tempting to explore every option. You could seek another avocation by trying different types of part-time work or volunteering. Maybe after a few months you'll come across another job offer. Or pehaps you'll spend more time helping out friends and neighbors.
But you can simply enjoy “not working” for the rest of your life! You’ve earned your retirement, and you can choose your own fulfilling life. Working and volunteering are just two aspects, even if you feel that they’re part of a perpetual search for your next career.
As we get older and reflect on our accomplishments, our attention begins to shift to the next generation and our legacy of “paying it forward”. You had many mentors and benefactors who looked out for you when you were younger. You may have made it worth their effort, but in most cases we feel an obligation to those who helped us– even at those times when we didn’t think they were helping. Now that you have plenty of retirement flexibility, you could honor the largesse of those who helped you. One of the best ways to do that is to pay it forward to the next generation by mentoring someone who needs it as much as you did. Whether you do that through teaching at a college or volunteering at a local school or just spending time with family, you can pass your life skills on to the next generation.
Another way to pay it forward is to talk about retirement. Join an Internet discussion forum or start your own blog. You may not find many retirement fans among your relatives or in your neighborhood, but there are plenty of attentive readers on the Internet. Blogging is easier than ever, and you can ask others to volunteer their advice or help edit your drafts. Before long you'll have enough stories and personal examples to fill a book.
But there are many paths to retirement, and there are many more paths to explore during retirement. If you don’t feel the motivation then you don’t have to work, or volunteer, or even mentor. You already worked hard at your military career, and you had to work even harder to build your assets. You endured frugal sacrifices and deprivation. Simply choosing your retirement lifestyle may have exposed you to society’s criticism and even jealousy. Financial independence and retirement give you the right to enjoy your time as you see fit! Live your life as the example that you’d like others to emulate– you’ll still be mentoring and paying it forward.
Once again, you’ve earned it. Harvest the fruits of your labors and enjoy the journey through whatever paths you choose. If retirement leads you to another avocation then pursue it just as enthusiastically as you pursued financial independence and retirement. If full-time retirement leisure turns out to be your only avocation, then keep looking forward to exploring each new day.
Don’t just get through life. Now that you’re financially independent you should fully experience your life and enjoy it!
About Doug Nordman:
I retired from the Navy over 12 years ago after 20 years in the submarine force. My spouse spent 17 years in the Navy's Meteorology/Oceanography community and eight more in the Navy Reserve. Both of us are enjoying our beach-bum retirement in Hawaii, where we were first stationed in 1989. Today our daughter is a surface warfare officer on a destroyer.
I wrote "The Military Guide to Financial Independence and Retirement” to share the stories of over 50 other servicemembers and veterans. All royalties are donated to military charities (over $9000 so far), and we're collecting more material for the second edition. Stop by The-Military-Guide.com to share your story and learn more about gaining financial independence!
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