As you blissfully go about your daily retiree routine, you’ll be blindsided by an epiphany: “Gosh, I could do THAT job!”
The thought could be triggered by anything– a clerk at the home-improvement store, a chat with a battle buddy, a press release about an old wingman, or a job posting. Now for some reason you’re considering a new career.
You’re absolutely right: you could do that job, and you could probably find someone to hire you. It seems intellectually challenging and fulfilling, it might be fun, and you’d even get paid! Seize this opportunity before it slips away!!
Stop. Take a deep breath and reflect on why you’re suddenly so interested. You’re not just an old warhorse hearing the battle bugles. Your instincts may be correct, but you need to think through the issues.
First, it’s flattering when your potential is recognized. It feels good, but will paid employment really make you happy? Do the salary and benefits outweigh the dissatisfiers? Are you willing to trade your new freedom and flexibility for the inevitable disadvantages of the workplace?
Second, do you “need” the job? Even when you’re financially independent there can be a lingering uncertainty. Maybe your investments could be doing better. Maybe the kid’s college tuition is rising again or you’re supporting an elder. Your attraction to the job might be a way to resolve these financial concerns. However do you really need the money?
Third, is it fair to others to take the job? This is a commitment to an employer and co-workers, not just self-indulgent entertainment. The company invests time and effort to attract a long-term employee. How would you feel if you were obligated to the job for at least a year? Would it still be paid entertainment, or would you regret it every time the surf came up?
Finally, would your competitive instincts kick in again? Veterans are motivated achievers who can't hold back. After a few months on the job, would you work longer hours and bring the office home? Would you be climbing the career ladder all over again?
If the job still looks great then discuss it with your family and friends and be ready for a long-term commitment. But beware of the conflicts, and don’t create new problems for yourself or your family. Even in retirement you can struggle with work-life balance. Maybe the only new skill you need is the ability to say “Thank you very much for your generous offer, but I can’t accept.”
Now that you’re aware of the issues, take control of your choices. Don't drift from one opportunity to the next. You don’t have to leap on every offer. If you think you want to work again, then make a plan. Sort through your feelings, discuss the situation, and start your own dedicated search.
Don’t compromise your work-life balance just for the sake of the job experience. You may decide that there are other things you’d rather do with your life, so be ready to say “Thanks, but no thanks.”
About Doug Nordman
I retired from the Navy over a decade 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 college senior on an NROTC scholarship.
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 $2000 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!