How to Reintegrate to Civilian Life Quickly and Smoothly
2-½ minutes to read
You don’t know what you don’t know. Wouldn’t you love to have a dollar for every time you heard that during your military career? And its corollary → You can’t fix it if you don’t know what’s wrong. Both are true. And they apply to your transition to civilian life. It doesn’t matter if you’re already in civilian life or getting out next year. Knowing the most common pitfalls veterans fall into will help you avoid them.
3 Areas Where Veterans Struggle
The three areas may not surprise you. But give yourself an honest appraisal of the specific issues within each one:
- Poor job search skills
- Cannot translate military skills and experience to the private sector
- Lack of camaraderie
- Lack of proper mentorship
- Unable to communicate effectively with civilians
- Lack of structure
- Lack of confidence
- Bad attitude toward civilians
- Lack of preparation and follow-up
My series on the 8 Deadly Sins of Job-Hunting shows you how to avoid the most common mistakes veterans make when looking for a job. You can learn to properly assess your skills using the four steps I outline here. Let me know what questions you still have. Look me up on the mobile phone app Carrot.FM if you want to do a quick one-on-one.
Create Momentum in Your Transition
With any long-term task, some early wins will motivate you through the inevitable setbacks. If you’ve been struggling for a while you know how a lack of positive momentum hurts your efforts.
Start by ensuring your job-hunting skills are up to speed. Be clear about you private sector value proposition. Know the outcome you want. Because you control these issues they’re the easiest to deal with.
Now you can overcome the bigger hurdles of support and mindset.
Support seems like a straightforward issue. But surrounding yourself with people who can and will encourage your aspirations can be difficult. Do you miss the closeness of relationships in the military? You may have to give up some friendships and create new ones. Be intentional when deciding whom you’ll befriend.
Not everyone who wants to mentor you can. Find one who has:
- Already succeeded in civilian life.
- Knows military life and culture well.
- Has the time to help you.
If any one of these is lacking you won’t get the support you need. A person can’t teach you to communicate in a realm he doesn’t know.
Most coaches will tell you mindset conquers all. Actually, your attitude and ability to market yourself mutually support each other.
Adapting to civilian life requires flexibility. Paraphrasing Helmut Van Moltke:
You have thoughts about how reintegration will work. You have dreams for what civilian life will be like. Fine. Just know reality won’t match what’s in your mind.
Despite all my experience and contacts in the civilian world, very little of my transition matched my post-navy plans. Some things turned out better. Others worse. That’s life.
At the same time, you must be self-disciplined enough to overcome the loss of military structure. Have a set wake up time and bedtime. Keep up an exercise regimen. If you’re looking for a job, work the same hours as you would on the job.
People get a gut feeling about your confidence level. If you have a negative dialog going on in your head here’s how to change it. Have your mentor on call to give you confidence boosts when you need them.
Now you know the key issues supporting a successful transition. Examine each one in light of your own situation. If it applies to you deal with it as soon as possible. None of them are insurmountable. Put on your Kevlar and push through the obstacles.
Which issue is disrupting your transition?
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