How to Find Passion and Purpose after the Military

Choosing a career, instead of a job, is often not an easy process and requires plenty of thought.
Choosing a career, instead of a job, is often not an easy process and requires plenty of thought. (Adobe stock image)

Transitioning out of the military can be hard for many as they leave behind an organization and service that is clear about its purpose. You volunteered for this purpose, poured sweat and blood into this purpose and were surrounded by others in a similar pursuit. Thus, when you transition out of the military, it is easy to feel out of place, a little lost and disheartened that purpose seems so elusive.

But take heart, for the purpose you seek is out there, and when you hit the sweet spot where purpose meets passion, a future without precedent will arrive for you on this side of the military.

Jobs and Careers

It is entirely likely that your post-military life will consist of both, and you must understand the difference. Too many veterans become too easily discouraged in the workplace, because they expect from a job what a career is designed to provide.

Jobs are steppingstones and a means to provide for financial obligations. Careers are the pursuit of one's life work. And the fact for most in this world is that the path to a purposeful career often holds many jobs.

As a result, there is nothing wrong with holding a job post-military while you are seeking and contemplating your career. Everyone has bills to pay, but that doesn't have to mean you give up on finding purpose. Just recognize the job for what it actually is while you keep exploring your purpose.

Many jobs can not only provide you with a paycheck, but also vital experience that will be necessary when you start pursuing a career in a particular industry. And then for many, the job can actually turn into the career they never expected.

But if you find yourself today with employment that brings you despair and not purpose, it doesn't mean you have failed. It just means that sweet spot of purpose and passion is still out there waiting to connect with you.

The Risk Can Be Worth It

For many, pursuing your passion will often require a little risk. Thankfully, the military veteran should be very comfortable with risk in pursuit of the outcome. It might be that your four-year military career in avionics leads to an aircraft mechanic career. If so, that is great.

However, don't feel obligated to remain in the same career post-military that you might have picked at age 17 because the recruiting pamphlet made it look amazing. Your military job experience can lead to some amazing jobs and amazing careers, but it is entirely possible your passion rests outside of what you already know.

Leaving the military can provide an amazing opportunity to hit the "reset" button and pursue a passion instead of a job. It might sound risky, but you learned more than technical skills in the military. You learned initiative, leadership, adaptability and resilience.

These traits find value in a variety of industries and are easily transferable. So if you spent the past four years as an aircraft mechanic but your passion is a career in writing, then now seems like a good time to pick up that pen and paper.

Purpose is powerful and can do much to ease the transition from military to civilian life. The path to purpose looks different for everyone and you need not fret if you find yourself holding a job or two along the way. Just call it what it is and never lose sight of your purpose.

Find what you enjoy, build the skills to master it and take that risk head-on. Purpose awaits you, and when you hear the crack of the bat when it meets the sweet spot of passion, you will know it and never look back.

For more information, contact our partners at Hiring our Heroes.

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