Reader Update: From The Military To Bridge Career To Retirement

[Nords note: I’ve known Ben for nearly a decade. He achieved financial independence on active duty and retired a few years ago. He was confident in his financial planning (it’s better than mine!) and he was pretty sure that he’d find plenty of things to do all day. However, he wanted to see what he could do in a civilian bridge career, and he wanted to make sure his financial planning had covered all the issues.]

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Today I thought I would give an update on how my bridge career is going. I really just want to talk myself through it. Perhaps there is something of value for someone else.

I still view my bridge career as being in Chapter 2 with a revision labeled 2.1. The latest release is due to me moving to another position within the larger organization, and this new position has some significant benefits to myself and my family. It allows me to work from home with a much shorter commute from the bedroom to the office and more time after work to focus on other areas of my life. It is a lateral move and actually a decrease in salary due to a change in the cost of living adjustment. Translation: less taxes I will have to pay “the man.” Let me say that I really enjoyed my previous position, however the long commute began to weigh on me and really forced me to consider whether the job was worth it. Clearly a financial gain however at a cost. Being financially independent makes working for money less appealing.

Reviewing my previous two posts on having a bridge career, I am beginning to see a pattern emerge. While I like the challenge of new work environments I quickly get bored and begin to think about what is coming next. Perhaps this is engrained from 20 yrs of frequent military positions or multiple permanent change of station moves. I like change and find that I like change management. Well at least I like some change and I have enough bandwidth to excel in the day to day tasks while always looking forward.

Back in December 2013 I made the decision that if I could not find a position that continued to align with my thoughts on what a bridge career should be, then in December 2014 I would resign and go back to being retired. The reasons for the December 2014 date are that it would allow me to maximize the employer’s 401(k) matching and would complete the tax year.

My first opportunity was an interesting position for a 2-3 year assignment in a garden spot in Europe as a senior individual in this organization. Yes, the Type A personality trait is hard to suppress. If I was going to end my bridge career, why not do it with a bang? I applied, made the cut, however during the period of time to get thru the HR bureaucracy I did a little more soul searching and decided that I would rather do the Europe adventure as a retiree rather than an employee. I pulled out of consideration for that job but in time I’ll return to Europe.

One of my mentors sent me the job posting for my new position. He has a similar arrangement and said that I should apply. My skills matched perfectly with that the organization was trying to hire. I made it through the screening and into the interviews. Unlike my preparations for interviewing for a transition from DoD to the current agency, I did not do anything major. I just went with the flow. Either I was very comfortable with the process or I was becoming indifferent to being selected. I suspect more of the latter as the thought of hanging it up in December 2014 does seem pretty appealing. I guess I could still go that route however I think this work-from-home arrangement is going to work out well.

The only way I can see there being a Chapter 3 in my bridge career is if a former mentor entices me with a deal “too good to pass up” or perhaps a desire to be an “Entrepreneur” on a large scale. The Entrepreneurial idea might arise one day but only after my kids are finished with school and have the knowledge and desire to partner with me in this area. I have a lot of acquaintances that ask me from time to time however the business arrangements have not been enticing enough on my risk/reward scale. Of course I wish them luck and hope they have to back the dump truck up at the bank to deposit all the money they are convinced they can make.

I find that my personal time is becoming more valuable. Vacations are now two weeks to a month as compared to a quick getaway. Providing lifetime family memories and experiences are more important. Socialization seems to bring on a different twist than in the past. Life balance and health has more meaning. Enjoying the fruits of my labor is becoming easier while the weighing of the financial impact is becoming background noise.



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Bridge career: “HA!”
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Military experience to civilian careers
The transition to a bridge career
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Forget about who you were and discover who you are

WHAT I DO: I help you reach financial independence. For free. I retired in 2002 after 20 years in the Navy's submarine force. I wrote "The Military Guide to Financial Independence and Retirement" to share the stories of over 50 other financially independent servicemembers, veterans, and families. All of my writing revenue is donated to military-friendly charities.

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