How To Get Motivated For Your Transition Out Of The Military

Photo by Lance Cpl. Colby W. Brown

Your transition to civilian life after serving in the military is always stressful, whether it’s at home or in a social setting. Trying to decide which career you’d be best suited for or hunting for a job can be time-consuming and exhausting. One of the best ways to ensure your success is to find the motivation to actually start the process --- it just gets easier from there.

Related: 5 ways a civilian mentor can propel your military transition »

If you’ve returned from the military and are looking to get out in the job market, here are some pointers to help you find and maintain the motivation you will need along the way:

1. Remember, all good things take time

When you make the move from military to civilian life, don’t expect to get results overnight. Like any other major transition, it will take some time, effort and determination to achieve any success in the process.

There’s a ton of help out there. You should look for inspiration and support from friends and family or veterans and colleagues who’ve been through it and successfully adapted to the civilian environment.

If you feel the need for professional assistance, you could take advantage of one of the many workshops that offer counselling and assistance for everything from readjusting to the civilian environment, to resume writing and job applications.

2. Focus on the benefits of getting a civilian job

Create a list of all the ways that getting a job can help you, now that you’re out of the military. Focus on your “wants” --- whether you need something to do with your time, feel a sense of ambition and a desire for success, or have just plain monetary requirements. Employment in a civilian environment will help you re-align yourself for life after the military. Exposure to the work environment is a great way to adapt faster to social interactions and daily life outside the military.

Keeping yourself motivated is an integral part of not just making the transition, but staying on track even afterward. Approach the task with gusto and keep reminding yourself of the independence and financial security it enables for you and your family.

3. Choose the right job

Find something you’re good at or passionate about, and treat that as a base for a career. Whether you enjoy a spot of cooking, have a flair for leadership, or enjoy skydiving and other outdoor activities, pursue your new (or old) dreams.

Before you apply for a job, make sure you create your resume methodically, focusing on how your skills will be relevant. Your resume is your first impression, so make sure it is clean, easy to read, and highlights important skill sets so they are prominent even at a quick glance. If you don’t feel confident, get some opinions from friends and family or use a professional service.

Remember that your military career has already given you many qualities that are in high demand, like punctuality, leadership, and organization skills. Self-confidence, adherence to dress codes and formal presence - these are some more of the tools that will set you a step above the rest. When you find your motivation slacking, remind yourself that you are already a more desirable employee than most.

Finding an employer might seem daunting, but it really isn’t. There are a number of portals online and many companies dedicated to helping you land the right job, negotiating salaries and additional assistance. Use the resources available for research. A quick Google search will provide loads of samples and helpful tips. Once you’ve got everything ready, look for potential employers and approach them for job openings, or use an employment agency that assists ex-military professionals.

4. Keep yourself motivated during transition and after

Getting back to civilian life is only half the transition; remaining focused and keeping yourself motivated is just as important. Everyday life after a long career or even a short stint in the military can be challenging, but you can take inspiration from other veterans who’ve been there and gotten past it. There are several groups and communities of veterans that you can seek help and guidance from.

There are also forums online that can be helpful. You can post questions, comment and concerns, and get motivation from others in the same boat as you.

5. Start Afresh!

Augmenting your pension is all very well, but getting used to work in the civilian environment can be treated as a challenge. There’s absolutely no reason you can’t overcome this challenge if you face it as an opportunity to improve your lifestyle, both financially and socially. And finally remember, it is never too late to start something new, see it as an opportunity and not a difficult phase in life. That will turn into a motivation itself!

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