Here’s the one thing you need to be successful.

Ready? It is really simple.

A goal.

Sure, success also takes a lot of hard work and smart choices, but a goal provides the structure you need to take the small steps that get you where you need to be.

A good goal is bigger than getting a job or graduating from school. A good goal also has to be achievable. And don’t just assume that it is. We see a number of transitioning service members who get out of the military and think they are going to be able to join the state troopers after graduating with a criminal justice degree. The truth is, not all states are hiring troopers. You may end up with a degree that won’t help you in your job search.

Spend time thinking about the type of job you want and the type of life you want five years from now. Do some work figuring out how reasonable that goal is. Work through your finances and what you need to earn. Work through how much time you want to be at home and pursuing your hobbies. And work through what type of career you want.

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Think back to the first time you entered your recruiter’s office before joining the service. What goals got you through boot camp and your follow-on training? And when you got to your first unit, what aspirations took hold and how did you go about achieving them? In some ways, the military makes this process easier because it has an entire system of schools, career development, training, and promotions designed to help you reach the next step in the ladder.  

You’ll need to do this hard work laying out the path yourself, but you can’t do that without a goal in mind.

Watch Hirepurpose Career Coach Will Leineweber discuss mistakes you should avoid during your transition.