Whatever your vision for your retirement, it can be difficult to predict and fully prepare for the range of experiences and emotions that can occur after years of service in law enforcement. If you’re like many of us today, you may also have been anticipating a move toward a second career well in advance of the date you put in your papers. To help smooth the way for a successful transition, a great resource to turn to is the advice of former law enforcement professionals who have gone on to find satisfying and lucrative careers in a new line of work. For inspiration and motivation, we’re highlighting a few tips we’ve gleaned from those who’ve set their own course in both the private and public sector.
Don’t underestimate what your police background brings to the table: As explained by Michelle Perin in the article “Life After Duty,” many officers often don’t fully recognize the value of the unique skills and experience they have acquired from a career in law enforcement, and how it can be more broadly applied to other areas. Drawing on the stories of former police professionals including John Eldridge, author of the practical advice manual “Second Careers for Street Cops,” Perin asserts that many people have a narrow view of their own expertise and training from the police force. However, the reality is that their law enforcement experience is a great asset that translates across many different fields and industries. As just one example, she describes how a former member of the Vancouver (BC) Police Department, Neil Thompson, used his on-the-job knowledge to segue into a prosperous real estate partnership with his wife.
Start planning ahead:
On the face of it, this may seem like overly simplistic advice. But as Law Enforcement Today reminds us in “7 Tips for Cops Transitioning to Retirement,” most people don’t prepare for retirement like they do for their career, and failure to plan how you will spend your time can become an easy trap for boredom. The loss of inherent structure and routine daily personal interactions from any job is often disconcerting, and the constant stimulation and strong camaraderie that is so prevalent in law enforcement can clearly make this change all the more pronounced. This is one of the reasons it can be so beneficial to start building a framework for a transition to a civilian life before it’s upon you.
While you’re still employed, it can be an ideal time to get practical experience as well as network in the fields you want to explore. This might mean attending industry conferences, looking for opportunities to serve on boards or otherwise volunteering, or looking into fellowships or even moonlighting. If you’re considering launching a business, resources such as SCORE can connect you with free business mentoring and education, and the Small Business Administration continues to be an excellent source of helpful information.
Don’t plunge right in to new financial commitments: Even if you’re confident about your plans for this stage of your life, it’s advisable to hold off on new financial entanglements for a reasonable amount of time, if possible. Another astute point raised by Law Enforcement Today is that you won’t necessarily be able to foresee certain stress factors that come with a major life change. Huge financial decisions are an added strain that are generally best avoided until you’ve made the transition, and are comfortable managing your new income levels. In addition, you should be prepared that certain income sources may be delayed upon your retirement or may differ from your expectations.
Remember that your credit union will still be here for you: Weighing the idea of relocating to another region of the country when you’re ready to retire from your career in law enforcement? Wherever you go, we are here to support you, and to continue to serve as your preferred financial services provider once you’ve settled in your new location. When you join our credit union, you can remain a member for as long as you want, regardless of a move, career change or retirement.