One year after retirement: What I miss the most
While I was prepared for the next chapter in my life, I did not realize how much I would miss the people I worked with
When I first notified my agency of my plans to retire at the end of 2018 after serving 21½ years I was met with a lot of skepticism.
People commented that I would be back within a year and that they would keep my locker ready. Some even mentioned betting with each other on how long I could stay away.
At 47 years old, I was younger than most to retire, but what many of my fellow officers did not know was that retiring early had always been my plan. Being prepared for when you retire will help ease the transition as you leave your agency and move into civilian life.
How to retire
Do not believe all those who will tell you that you should not or cannot retire. The law enforcement profession provides many opportunities to develop highly desired and valuable skills that can help us occupy time and earn extra income in our retirement.
Identify the top couple of things you really enjoy doing in law enforcement and then start researching what comparable roles there are in the civilian market.
For me, I had always enjoyed coaching defensive tactics and public speaking. So, I started doing things several years before separating from the career to capitalize on my passions and skills. I partnered with a good friend to run a gym in our community teaching Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and the mindset of winning we had developed throughout my career.
I also started a podcast, The On Purpose Podcast, to capitalize on one of my strengths as a police officer, interviewing and developing rapport with people, as well as storytelling.
In the private sector, skills developed as part of the routine career paths in law enforcement are in high demand and allow me to negotiate my contracts, prices and value.
If you are at a place in life where you desire to move on and are wondering if you can do more, the answer is a resounding YES!
The hardest transition for me in the first year away from the job was not seeing the people I worked with.
I missed being in the building and running into people I had not seen in several months and being able to catch up with them.
I missed being able to walk to the water fountain and end up in a 20-minute discussion with people I had not planned on talking to that day.
I missed the days where I did not have to schedule meetings with my former coworkers and some of my closest friends just to be able to see how they are doing.
I even missed seeing the people who drove me crazy, frustrated me and generally added to my stress levels.
Yes, I missed them too, because they are part of the story of my career and all that I learned from it.
I underestimated the impact not having people around me every day would have on my spirit and energy levels.
Thankfully, my other activities are heavy on social interaction so that helped offset the loss. However, there is something different about talking with people who are willing to die for each other, sacrifice so much for our communities and come from such a good place in their hearts.
So be sure to have a social circle and network established before you walk away to avoid the sting of being an outsider overnight.
Next time: Handling your emotions after retirement