3rd Resilient transition options advised by retired duo

Hey there, our ‘on demand, reader-cued columnists’, Pam and Shaun Collins have a new question to share.  Today’s writer is ready to retire from civil service. This, AFTER a previous full military retirement and he’s still itching to contribute, or is it something else??

School or bust?

School or bust?

He’s clearly got lots of life let in him because not only is he retired, once and twice, but he’s now thinking of going back to SCHOOL to become the next best thing in his life.

Here’s the really-crazy-risky-fun part: he doesn’t know what he wants to study yet and is looking for a constructive opinion, other than his wife’s!

Well, let’s see what He Said about it and the opinion She Said on it. It’s all been stretched over from their column at the Guidon, the paper edited by Bob Johnson over at Ft. Leonard Wood. Now, the question and the responses not even He and She have read till they are publishedin their own words……

“I am thinking about changing jobs, actually not just changing jobs, but going back to school for a whole new career field. My wife thinks I am nuts. She says that I should have thought of this years ago. I am military retired, and eligible to retire from civil service. I could just be retired, but I want more. Now for the weird part, I have no idea what I want to go do, just that I don’t want to push paper or work in an office. I have no idea even where to begin to look for a new career. You both teach. What do you think?”

HE SAID:  I think all leaders and professionals need to be life long learners, but I don’t see the need to have a career for the sake of having a career. I was fortunate to spend 27 years doing something I loved doing. Now that I am retired and am financially secure, I don’t feel compelled to work for someone else or to seek out career opportunities.

Shaun Collins responds to a question on late life learning and career change

Shaun M. Collins

Since I retired I have been offered a GS-13 job, a one-year stint down range for about $300K per year and the list goes on. Rather than to go to school and get another degree, license, certification or what have you, I am much more content picking and choosing projects that I am passionate about and giving back as much as I can. I taught graduate school for about 3.5 years until the administration of that particular school made it clear they were more interested in all of their students passing, so they made more money than they were educating their students and making them earn their degrees, which was when I decided not to teach for that school anymore. However, I have been afforded the opportunity to teach professional development and ethics classes to Soldiers around the world when and where I want, which I find tremendously satisfying.

I find that by taking on only those projects that I am passionate about, I love every project I get involved in – whether they are volunteer or paying opportunities. My best advice is to follow your heart, do what truly brings you happiness and a sense of satisfaction. If you change careers for the sake of doing something different, then find out you hate it, what then?  

My father and grandfather frequently told me that if you do something you love, you will never work a day in your life … I wish I could say I found that to be true, in that I had a career that I absolutely loved, but I can also report that I “worked” a lot!  If you want to go get a PhD just for the sake of keeping your mind sharp, a wielding a certificate so you can enjoy a hobby, go get a pilot’s license to pursue a life-long dream – do it, but do it because you are passionate about it, not because you’re afraid of not working.

Good luck – it is difficult for people who have led successful lives to slow down, but I can assure you, you only live once and you had best make it count (unless reincarnation is real – then you may have an unlimited number of chances to live the life you were truly meant to). None of us have all of the answers; as a matter of fact, I think the older you get and the bigger your world becomes, your knowledge base diminishes congruently. I can say for certain that I knew a whole lot more when I was 20 years old than I do now, even though I have four college degrees I didn’t have back then.

(Whew! Shaun C., tell us what you REALLY feel, eh?)

SHE SAID:  College would be a great start as a way to expand your mind and determine if you do, in fact, want to pursue another career. If you think you may want to do something else, I would suggest that you take the Highland Ability BatteryIt will help you determine your strengths and weaknesses; identify your natural learning channels and show you specific areas of interest / career fields that you are naturally wired for, but may not have otherwise considered.

Pam Collins, writer of the He Said She Said column

Pam Collins

I took the test late in my career as part of my 3rd graduate degree, and recommend it for anyone, especially those getting ready to go off to college for the first time.

What a lot of people don’t realize is they end up in a career by chance and think they are meant for it because they’re good at it.

If you’re intelligent, you can be good at a lot of things, but that doesn’t necessarily make it right for you. If you are curious about what else is out there, I say go for it. It is never too late to pursue your dreams and you should never stop learning and growing.

Finally, consider why you want to pursue another degree.  Many people define themselves by what they do and feel the need to constantly be “task” productive.  A good friend once told me, “If you are what you do, when you don’t, you aren’t.” So how do you define yourself?

Ha! I tell you, this editor just felt like she had her mind read by Pam and Shaun. What about YOU?   HOW DO YOU DEFINE YOURSELF..  .. now that you are looking BACK at your transition OR what thoughts and options must you sort through to get your NEXT STEP answers? 

Our readers, your brothers and sisters in arms could benefit from what you share. You will too, just by writing it out here in the COMMENT section right below. Go ahead. They  might even answer!



  1. Shaun Collins says:

    Thanks Helena – Shaun!

    • Helena Kaufman says:

      Shaun.. it made me shudder when I read your column.

      And Pamela’s advice about the assessment tool, got me to dig out and reread the evaluation PAGES from an intensive query into personality types and strengths I undertook here in Vancouver, B.C. a couple years ago.

      Thank you both for your continued service in providing answers to the many questions that swirl around us all trying to do the right thing for ourselves and others.

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