My first “real” career was serving in the United States Navy. I learned a lot of life skills as well as professional ones during my stint. But like many young people, couldn’t wait to become a civilian and get paid for my skills versus my rank.
I immediately signed up for the Naval Reserves and continued my military career earning awards, promotions and moving up on the pay scale in seniority. Those are great benefits for a “part time” job. The trade-off is that at any time part-time could turn into full-time wherever you’re needed by your country.
I mentioned pay, awards and promotions as benefits. The most important benefit was the one I’d get after retirement. Reservists who serve 20 years receive military retirement benefits at the age of 60.
Of course, it wouldn’t be as high as someone who served on active duty for those 20 years, but it would be on top of any retirement funds earned or saved in their civilian careers. Since I was a mere 19 years old when I joined the service, my time would have been done at the age of 39. Pretty sweet, right?
Life rarely happens exactly as planned and I had my bumps as well. My first marriage ended when I had about 12 years of total service leaving me a single mom of two young sons. To further my career path, I was also attending college at night and working full-time.
My plate was full and after struggling for a year or so, something had to give. You can guess what got dropped!
This did leave me able to finish school and earn much more money over the 15 years than I would have without it. But, I never did go back to the Reserves as planned.
The problem I had was not keeping in mind the lost benefit. My plan to return to the Reserves after finishing my degree was forgotten as new things entered my life (including my husband). I kept thinking I had time to go back, but it never became the right time.
Sometimes you do have to make adjustment due to life’s circumstances, just don’t lose sight of the goals. Keep them in your life plan and you won’t end up with regrets!