02-02-2015 07:00 AM
Content provided courtesy of USAA.
by Doug Nordman, founder of The-Military-Guide.com
One day, you’ll reach financial independence and enjoy life without working for a paycheck.
When you retire from your military career (or from your civilian bridge career), then you’ll be in charge of your schedule. You’ll fill it with family time, travel, volunteering, projects around the house and hobbies.
Your new life will be interesting, fulfilling and surprisingly busy. So after you’ve started retirement, why would you go back to work? Here’s a personal look at the issues.
My final tour before military retirement was at a submarine training command teaching nuclear engineering. One division helped junior officers prepare for their engineer qualification exam at Naval Reactors.
One day, the shipyard had an unusual request: They wanted space for their training program that teaches their civilian nuclear engineers how to supervise submarine reactor overhauls. It was a great fit alongside our officer program, and we’d benefit from having the shipyard instructors working near our military instructors. We helped the shipyard staff move into the space where our division trained our junior officers, and the shared program worked out great.
Shortly after we brought in the shipyard program, I started terminal leave. Retired life was fantastic, and I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to keep working for a paycheck after they had enough wealth.
Six months later, the shipyard school supervisor called to ask if I’d like to teach there. Suddenly, I realized why retirees sometimes return to work! The offer was the proverbial dream job: low stress with motivated students and submarine camaraderie at a GS-13 pay scale.
Confusion immediately set in as my internal dialogue lurched back and forth:
“I could SO do that job.” Did I want to give up my new retired life so soon?
“I’d be paid to enjoy teaching again!” What would I do with more money?
“Eight-hour days and no weekend duty!” What if the surf was up on a Tuesday morning?
“It’s the chance of a lifetime!!” I’ve only been retired for six months!
The offer was very flattering, but the job still had the typical frustrations. I’d have to punch a clock and drive through rush hour twice a day. I’d wear office attire and attend meetings. There was paperwork.
My 10-year-old daughter was happy for me. (Would my new paycheck mean that we could buy a horse?) I knew that I’d miss out on her daily routine and wouldn’t be able to volunteer at school.
My spouse finally nailed me:
“Would I want to qualify to teach the entire shipyard engineer training course?” Absolutely.
“Would I want to be the lead instructor?” Well, sure.
“Would I want to fill in for my boss while he was on travel or vacation?” Um, possibly.
“Would I get sucked into climbing the career ladder all over again?” Ouch.
The work would be complex and fulfilling, but I’d give up control of my time. I enjoy teaching, but all jobs have tedious chores that I was reluctant to tolerate. I lacked a career plan and an exit strategy. I’d be expected to take on more responsibility. This was a major commitment and if I chafed at the inflexible hours (let alone the commute), then the only solution would be quitting. Yet the supervisor truly needed help with his labor problems, and it was unfair to experiment with this job.
His offer was very flattering, but I turned it down.
Today, I’ve created my own “teaching” career: I blog, write books and answer reader questions. My creative outlet has flexible hours with few chores and lots of surfing. I’ve never regretted “giving up” that unexpected job offer.