Our Podcast

BY Joel Junker

Episode 157 – The Parallels of Investing and JMO Career Management

I like to use the lessons of investing to help Junior Military Officers (JMOs) understand the tradeoffs and choices they will make during their career search process.  In this podcast, I walk through the value of investing early in your life.  I share the financial benefits of sacrificing today for reaching financial and career goals in the future.  Chiefly, I explain how that same investing discipline applies to making sacrifices and tradeoffs early in your career, leading to reaching your career goals.

The Value of Investing Early

You can search online about the benefits of investing early and the almost impossible nature of trying to reach financial goals by starting later.  When you do, you will find tables and charts like the one I found from USAA. The article states the amount you will have at age 65 if you start saving $250 a month starting at different ages (it assumes an eight percent average annual investment return).

If you start at age:

25: You’ll accumulate $878,570 by age 65

35: You’ll accumulate $375,073 by age 65

45: You’ll accumulate $148,236 by age 65

There are huge advantages to investing early and often.  You will end up in a lot better place at 65 if you start young.

How this Relates to Career Management

Invest in your career when you are young, and you will reach your goals later.

I encourage you to start with your career goals.  Where do you see yourself in 10 years?  Do you see yourself as an executive development candidate?  If so, you need to be on that path at the 5-year mark and have a strong track record of success with a leading company in a development role.  To do that, you want to avoid the common mistakes in the transition out of the military and avoid any do-overs.  It doesn’t work if you say you want to be a key business leader in 10 years but wait for 5 years to gain the experience to get there.  You just can’t catch up.

This is just like investing.  Want to retire at 65?  Determine how much money you will need at that point.  Then, work backward.  What do you need to save each month to get there?  It will be a lot easier if you start investing when you are young versus in your late 30s or 40s.  You might not even be able to catch up and reach your goals if you wait until you are middle-aged.

Some Investments You Might Have to Make in Your Career

Easier investments include:

Reading books to advance your knowledge
Finding and spending time with mentors
Earning certifications
Taking time to prepare for competitive interviews

Harder investments (significant sacrifices) include:

Location (the big one).  I hear many officers tell me how they want to be a leader in a growing company that will invest in them.  Yet, in the next sentence they tell me they will only consider one state or city.

Let’s go back to the investing analogy.  If I have $1,000 and my goal is to retire when I am 65, but I also like to golf and eat out.  I have a choice on how I am going to prioritize using that $1,000.  I might try to find a way to do all three, but that is hard.  One of those needs to be the top priority.  The same is true with a career search. Which goal is your priority?

Other significant career investments include working on shifts and travel.  I cover all of these in the podcast.

Reaching Your Goals Takes Investment and Sacrifice

There isn’t a shortcut to your goals. You will have to make some sacrifices and tradeoffs.  Every successful person I know has a story about the investment they made in their success.  Find someone you view who has a successful career, and ask him or her how they got there.  Listen, and you will hear sacrifices. Do you admire someone’s family or their marriage?  Ask them the secret, listen you will hear about investment/sacrifices and tradeoffs they made to have that type of marriage and family.

Forbes has a great article on managing your career.  This is a great place to start.

If you’re interested in learning more about your transition options, contact us.

You can also check out our Transition Guide on “3 Game-Changing Strategies for JMOs Making the Jump to Business” for additional transition tips.

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