Life events are normally accompanied by emotions, transition from military life to civilian life is no exception to this fact.
When I encountered strong emotions tied to my transition from military life to civilian, I was thrown of course a bit. I entered transition like most situations in my military career – with a ‘can do’ attitude. During my career I knew my military training and previous experiences would prepare me for what was ahead. But when I entered in to transition, this method of thinking required me to dig a little deeper. I knew I possessed the characteristics and personality skills needed to work through this tough period, I just needed to ‘adjust fire’ and ‘get ‘er done.’ The truth is if you successfully served in the military, you possess what is needed to be successful in transition and life after the military.
So, I stepped back and took a look at what I was facing in order to figure out what I needed to do to move forward. Here’s what I discovered:
- All life events evoke some type of emotions. When I got married, gave birth to my children, entered the military, lost my great-grandmother, graduated with my college degree, deployed to a combat zone, or returned home from a combat deployment – each life event had a strong emotion tied to it, so strong that when I recalled the event in my mind I found myself experiencing the emotion as if reliving the event at that very moment.
- Communication, either simplified or complex, needs to be effective during life’s transitions in order to get what you need to move forward in the process. Communication can be as simple as using words to state how you feel about a situation. “I am ready to retire from military service.” Words are important to state your intentions, which puts things in motion to initiate a life transition. Or words can initiate a complex thought process or plan of action to tackle a life transition.
- Resources are critical throughout life, especially when facing a new situation. Transition was definitely one of those situations where I needed to seek out new resources to fill specific needs in my life, needs that were once filled by my Army life.
Once I realized these three facts, I went to work. I thought back over my military training and experiences and compared them to what I struggled with in transition. I did a lot of self-reflecting and self-assessing. What skills did I already possess that helped me in my military career? Whether I was planning out a yearly production schedule for my section in Hawaii or planning my wedding in New York while stationed in Colorado – the skills were the same. I tapped into my organizational, leadership, delegator, time management, and communication skills. I realized I did possess the skills needed to transition successfully. I just needed to readjust them and execute the task at hand. I am happy to say I am truly making progress and am beginning to feel comfortable with who I am ‘without my uniform.’