Updated: Mar 28
Once you’ve made the decision that you’re leaving active duty you need to decide what you want to do. Sounds simple right? Well, it depends.
When I was deciding what I wanted to do I started with a simple thought: I just wanted a “normal” 9-5 job. I wanted something with stability and predictability. Then I asked myself what industry I wanted to work in and found I didn’t know and I didn’t think it mattered. I applied to tons of local jobs across all industries trying to sell myself as an “engineer/program manager”. I researched each position and tried to make as many connections as I could. I thought if I just used the right buzzwords, tailored my resume, and used some of my military experience it would lead me to the right job.
Then I sat down for my first practice interview with one of the Candorful coaches, and one thing became apparent, I didn’t know why. I had a couple job descriptions from places I’d applied, but that still didn’t help me with thoughtful answers. I was too busy focused on what I wanted to do, get a job, that I didn‘t consider why I wanted to work in those jobs for which I'd applied.
I was able to work on improving my interview performance, and the questions from the coaches helped me tremendously. Thinking about the types of questions asked during interviews also helped make me ask myself why I was picking that job in the first place. For myself I knew that my personal why was my family, and finding a better balance than I had on active duty. For my professional why I slowly began to realize I still wanted to help and serve, but with the emphasis of placing my family first. This helped guide me to focus on applying my skills and knowledge, and helped me be ready when the right opportunity for me came along.
Your why can be simple, but often hard to put into words. If I'm totally honest I kind of found my why along the way, and that's ok too. I'm now working in an awesome job where I do fulfilling and meaningful work, and I've started this blog on the side. It wasn't until recently when I was reading "Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action" by Simon Sinek that I fully understood how I'd been working towards why, but it was difficult to put down in words. It is necessary for everyone to both find their why and use that as a starting point towards their post-military journey.
My advice to you is simple: start before I did. No one told me I should find my why. No one told me I should have started earlier in the whole military separation journey, so I'm telling you now. If you've decided you're getting out (you're already committed to no plan B), start thinking and planning now. If you're not sure when you're gonna be getting out, start now anyways.
Next time we'll discuss networking and how to network for success. That will wrap up my opening three-part series on the basics of military separation. As always let me know what you think, and ask any questions below.