How to Change from a Military to Civilian Mindset

2 minutes to read

The unexamined life is not worth living ∞ Socrates

Who do you see when you look in the mirror? Come on, don’t roll your eyes. The image staring back stands between you and everything you want in life. Is it professional success, a stronger marriage, closer relationships with your kids? You can have them all when your purpose includes being the preeminent professional, a devoted spouse, and an engaged parent.

Are You Ignoring the Truth about Professional Success?

Migrate Your Purpose from Military to Civilian

Each service branch creates an image of the people who serve in it. The Marine Corps has been especially effective doing this. You’ve heard of “The Few, The Proud.”

You may not have realized it at the time. But basic training aligned your purpose with that of your service branch. A lot of the ongoing training you received reinforced this purpose. Indeed, many veterans never alter their military mindset.

Have you chosen to keep your military identity without any changes? If so, you’ve made reintegrating into civilian life harder. Many private sector organizations indoctrinate their employees with a purpose. If you join such a company, you’ll have a choice:

  • Conform to its purpose.
  • Underperform in the eyes of the people you work with.

You may think leaving your purpose open gives you a better chance of finding a job. Actually, doing so forces you to be a chameleon trying to fit the image of each potential employer. But your words won’t ring true. So you’ll get rejected for the job anyway. If by chance you do get hired, you won’t be happy because you’ll have to pretend to be someone you’re not.

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You’ll be better off finding your purpose first. Then identify organizations where you’ll fit in.

Purpose Leads to Professional Success

Are you a Marine, an Eagle Scout, or a Christian? If so, you’ve already set part of your purpose. Each carries a set of values and a way to behave. Now consider whether you need to add to your purpose or modify it.

If you don’t have a pre-existing purpose, you’ll have to start from scratch. Though it sounds morbid, how do you want people to eulogize you at your funeral? Write it down. Convert it into the roles you need to fill and the qualities you must develop.

Without a clear purpose, you have no basis for personal development. Your life will stagnate. Yet you need to grow to meet the challenges of reintegrating into civilian life. When a company defines who you are, professional success will elude you.

So define your purpose. Then cultivate the traits necessary to better harmonize with this self-image. For example, do you see yourself as a successful entrepreneur? Build a mindset of perseverance.

No matter how clear your purpose is in your mind, you must encapsulate it in one coherent sentence. Then read this sentence every morning. That way you indoctrinate yourself. Now you won’t waver in the face of temptation from an organization or job where you’ll be miserable.

Do you have a mindset that will lead to civilian professional success?

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© , Kevin S. Bemel, All Rights Reserved

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