This is kind of the question I asked myself approaching retirement from the Army. Honestly up until that point I had not thought of anything past my Army goals. Fortunately, through some good luck (hard work and opportunity) I was able to achieve all of my Army goals. But what next?
I started talking with others who had transitioned, trying to figure out how they decided on their next careers. It was informative, even humorous at times. Listening to these stories, some of which were self-deprecating, gave me ideas. People who went into contracting, working for the government and those that went into an array of businesses. But the truth was none of them were me and they couldn’t pick my future for me. I had to discover for myself what my next chapter in life would be. A critical aspect that came up was passion, those that were happy with their lives were doing something they were passionate about.
So, what the hell was I passionate about and could I make a living doing it? That became a question I tried to answer almost every day to no avail for months. I read a great book that others found helpful, I found it to be somewhat useful. The book is Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life. It can be kind of corny at times as you go through the book, but you may find it very useful. Another book/ tool I used was Strengths Finder 2.0. This was useful for identifying my strengths in civilian terms, but still, it didn’t tell me “Hey, be this when you grow up.”
After a lot of reflection, I cannot overstate how much thought and its importance, I discovered what I wanted to do. This didn’t happen overnight, it took time. To meet the goals, I developed, I decided through research and networking that I needed an MBA for multiple reasons. The truth is this gave me a purpose. A goal. Something to strive for. It energized me and I decided to put all of my efforts into meeting these goals and my intermediate goal of the MBA from the only school I found a fit with. More on that fit in a later post.
The truth that I discovered, probably like many others have before me is, only you can find your purpose. Only you can find your passion. I think it’s essential to love what you do and then it’s not work. My military career has felt this way and I considered it a way of life, not a job. If you can discover that critical piece of information for yourself, you can live a happy life after you transition. You will know it when you find it. Like with me, I’m not following a “normal” path or one most traveled. But I believe in pursuing my dreams and in taking risks. Once I found my purpose, it was comforting to head out into the unknown on my journey.
To answer the question of this blog, look in the mirror. Once you have decided/ found/ discovered what you want to be, pursue it with everything you have. Leave no stone unturned!