Pulling the pin: 7 keys to retiring happy
In the FBI, retirement is a big deal — even becoming eligible to retire is a big deal. I never knew an organization where the phrase “KMA” (for Kiss My A**) was constantly used to mean the date you are eligible to retire. “When is your KMA?” “I’ll be KMA in two years.” or “It sure is nice to be KMA... two bad days in a row and I’m outta here!” Retiring agents usually could be broken down into one of three groups: those who stayed until the last possible minute and had to be pushed out the door (agents are required to retire by their 57th birthday), those who left angry and bitter, and who that left happy and on their own terms. I always knew I wanted to be in the third category.
I think most in the first category (forced to retire based on age limitations), were usually great agents who devoted their life to the Bureau, but had no plans about what they would do once they retired. I was on SWAT team with a super guy who was actively working a bank robbery investigation on his last day as an FBI agent. He was running down leads and conducting interviews well into the night. Suddenly, his partner realized it was eight o’clock at night and said to him, “What are you doing? Do you realize at five o’clock today you were no longer an agent? You can’t be doing this! You no longer have any authority!”
The second category (the bitter) has too many members, and it seemed as if the numbers of angry retirees grew each year.
1. Have a plan.
I still get to meet with officers throughout the country, I still get to train, and I still get to learn.
2.) Have interests not related to your law enforcement job.
3.) Don’t take on a victim mentality.
When I was new to the job, I loved to listen to the old timers talk about the Hoover years. One of the stories was that on graduation day, all new agents were told two things. The first was the FBI doesn’t owe you anything other than the two-weeks pay you just earned. The second is it’s not your FBI and it never will be your FBI. It belongs to the American people and that’s who we serve.
It seems as if we sometimes start thinking our organization owes us. It’s natural to do so. You sacrifice so much that it only seems right to expect much in return. We can’t forget we represent the citizens we serve. It’s an awesome responsibility and an awesome privilege.
4.) Never love anything that can’t love you back.
We decided to have a career in law enforcement because we believe in the necessity and righteousness of our mission. If you are angry at your department, it’s not the department you’re mad at. You’re mad at an individual. If there is a problem, something that needs to be fixed, then fix it. Make your department better. If you can’t, then decide whether to work within the system or leave. But don’t be a victim. Don’t allow yourself to be placed in the role of the weak. Remember you control you. You control your emotions. You control your attitude.
5.) It’s okay to miss the people, but don’t miss the job.
6.) Recognize the privilege of being a warrior.
For me it included a SWAT operation in which we rescued several teenage girls who were being forced into prostitution, returning a kidnapped child to his parents, putting child molesters in prison, protecting firefighters during the LA riots, and being part of a team that put lots of evil people away for a long time.
How many times have you thought, “I can’t believe they pay me to do this stuff!”
7.) Don’t forget you’re a sheepdog and a warrior.
|Back to previous page|