Planning Retirement Like Planning a Mission Except the Element of Surprise Is On You

Contributed by Laquan Daniels   

I have read many articles on lessons learned about areas transitioning servicemembers should consider. Areas such as networking, time and preparation, and humbleness to name a few. I would like to add my piece and encourage transitioning servicemembers to focus on the “Why” of it all. Why am I transitioning? Why am I pursuing this degree? Why am I networking with this person? Is what I’m doing going to get me one step closer to my destination?

A report published by the Institute for Veterans and Military VetAdvisor, cited over half of servicemembers left their first job post military within the first year and 65% left within two years. The report goes on to cite, “On average, servicemembers employed in their preferred career field stayed longer”. Moreover, “Former military officers reported longer stays than enlisted”. Why is that number so high might you ask? Well in my eight years of recruiting for the Army. There was a high percentage of prior service military from all branches that walked into my office seeking to come back into the military. The top reason being, their civilian employment journeys were less than fulfilling and they missed the comradery.

So, I only suspect that transitioning servicemembers are partly leaving civilian jobs early on in droves due to lack of job satisfaction and fulfilment. Primarily, they are leaving because they take the “Test Drive Approach” to transition. This means metaphorically or literally; they prefer to get in their car and drive around with no destination in their life GPS. In other words, they job search hoping they stumble upon something they find satisfying and fulfilling. STOP THAT! Park the car, go back in the house and plot the next target in your life mission.

As a transitioning service member, myself. My GPS destination is to retire for a second time by the age of 62. I mention that because it is important that as a transitioning servicemember, we have a destination in the GPS at all times. I asked a series of questions earlier in the post. Reason being is because if you are not constantly asking yourself “Why” or someone isn’t asking you “Why”. It is easy to become distracted and lose your way in a big civilian world. Furthermore, knowing your “Why” is going to remind to keep marching forwarding during the tough times.

Everything you do should be geared towards getting you one step closer to your GPS destination. If it is not, I ask you “Why” are you doing it? Prepare yourself mentally in everything you do. Preparing your transition two years, five years or twenty years in advance is great. However, if you do not have a destination you are trying to get to post military, then you are only preparing twenty years in advance for an inevitable failure. I hope this blesses you and gives you some additional perspective


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