Is there life after government?

Thursday - 8/23/2012, 2:00am EDT

In today's labor markets, it is not unusual for someone to have multiple employers over a career. But a large number of federal workers (about one-third of those who work for Uncle Sam) make it a career. They may change jobs or agencies, but they continue to work for the federal government. Some go into the private sector, then return to government, to qualify for the lifetime federal-employee health benefits program. Among other reasons.

But leaving a longtime job can be traumatic. Or at least a major life-style change. So we checked with somebody who's been there, done that and this is what she said.


After working for more than 35 years in the government (at the Department of Agriculture/NFC and the Smithsonian Institution), I was a few years away from retiring (at age 55) when, lo and behold, I was offered an early-out retirement.

Question #1 (to myself): "What should I do?" Continue working the few additional years (to reach age 55) or take advantage of the opportunity to leave a few years early? Answer: I opted to take the early out and I have not looked back.

While I thoroughly enjoyed my work life and put in many hours in the HR arena, my husband had already retired and relocated (to the Myrtle Beach, S.C., area) so it was a perfect opportunity for me to retire early and join him to begin the next chapter of our lives.

The only catch was, I signed the papers on Dec. 1, 2009 and had to be "off the rolls" by Jan. 2, 2010 (some 30 days later).

Question #2 (to myself): "How do I wrap up 35+ years of work into 30 days?" Answer: Quickly! I went through all my emails/ files and cleaned them out, cleaned off my desk and boxed up everything I could take with me and turned over (to my coworkers, sorry ladies!) all the work that needed to be done after I left.

Since I was relocating over the next few months, I also had to clean out my house (in Maryland), put it on the market, move things to South Carolina and on top of all that, it was the winter of 2009-10 and snow was everywhere (in Maryland). It seemed every trip I made (to South Carolina) was just one mile ahead of the fast approaching snowstorms of that winter.

It's now 2 1/2 years later and I have not looked back. I loved my government career and my coworkers and supervisors (most of them anyway) but I thoroughly love my retired life. I volunteer with several organizations which fill up my days; however, I also enjoy being so close to the beach for those days when I need a break to watch the waves crash and reminisce about how lucky I am. I hope everyone has the chance to retire and enjoy the next chapter of their lives, it's well worth it.

Jody Nyers


NEARLY USELESS FACTOID

By Jack Moore

We've told you before about what kind of music cats prefer listening to (high-pitched and fast in tempo). Now, you can buy your feline friend a pair of limited-edition headphones — called Meowingtons — to listen to his or her favorite tunes. The gadgets cost $1,000 with proceeds going toward the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.


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