Twenty years of service in the United States military sounds like an eternity when you are young and feeling invincible. However, a few years and several changes of duty stations later, what once seemed an eternity is now the reality of an approaching retirement. Those who retire from military service face not only a career change, but also a change of location and lifestyle. Whether you are retiring in a few months or several years, there are factors you should consider now.
Skills, Interest, and Abilities
Take a moment to ask: What do I really want to do? It isn't always an easy question to answer. Retirement from the military gives you opportunities not enjoyed by most in the civilian community. You can start a new career while still relatively young, use life skills you developed while serving in the Navy or Marine Corps, and do it while you receive your hard-earned military retirement pay.
There are numerous resources to help you evaluate and determine not only your qualifications, but also your interests. The Riley Guide is a great resource for self-assessment tools of all kinds. It has interests and skills surveys, personality assessments, and other information to make you aware of career possibilities you may have not otherwise considered.
Before you leap from the military into the vastness of retirement and a second career, take time to discover Richard Bolles' book, What Color Is Your Parachute?. This well-known book is updated annually to help users make the best-possible career choices. Filled with information, ideas, and practical tips for self-evaluation, it works in conjunction with an associated website, The Job Hunter's Bible. Both are valuable platforms for launching into your new career and life.
Another question to ask yourself is: Where do I want to live? Deciding this can be just as important as deciding what you will do. Determining what is best for you and your family may take some time, considerable planning, and a few family meetings. Online tools such as Finding Your Spot can help in your decision-making process.
Additionally, you may want to ask yourself questions like these: What benefits do potential locations offer pertaining to college and other education opportunities for my family? If it is important to be near extended family, is it possible from this location? Are the climate and physical surroundings compatible with my family's health and recreational needs?
Once you have asked yourself questions to determine your skills and location preferences, you would be remiss if you didn't ask what may be the most important question of all: Where will my family and I be happy? Your answer could make all the difference in the world. Take time to visit locations you may be considering. Learn about available resources, keeping in mind your particular needs. In short, get a feel for what may be your new home.
Retirement from the military is a time of change and transition. It is also an opportunity to hone your future. By asking some tough questions now, you will find yourself more prepared for the exciting adventure of your second career and, ultimately, the rest of your life.