MSEJ August 2018 - Page 39

You don’t have to solve your entire retirement puzzle in one day. That’s actually why you should start out years ahead of the actual retirement date. Retirement planning isn’t and shouldn’t be a scary word or something to put off. It should be a project that you devote time to, just like any other routine maintenance.

Change the oil in your car? Check in and see how much you’ve saved for your retirement—and set some goals. Mow the lawn and trim the shrubs? Take fifteen minutes to think about the kind of job you might like, search it, and set a job search filter to send updates for when that job opens. Doing your laundry for another week? Take fifteen minutes to register for a class, or spend time researching software that will help your future job-searching self. Is it time for your pet to go to the vet? While you’re at it, make a doctor’s appointment for yourself to get something checked out, and consider the last time you did an activity not related to your job. Maybe the vet tech has a hobby you could try.

I have to believe that there is a way to enjoy military retirement—that there’s a way to have more joy and less stress, even though you’ll miss the friends you’ve made along the way.

From where I stand, the surest way to find more joy seems to be by starting

early so that you can slowly transition rather than skidding to a stopping place. I’ll let you know when I stop hearing the brakes as they squeal. Until then, I’m trying hard to look ahead; there’s no time to stare off into the rearview.

When you hit fifteen years, retirement should be layered into your military career plan, no matter what may seem more urgent in your military timeline.