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Nov 09

How Long Does it Take to Transition into Civilian Life?

Many military leaders preparing for separation from service might think that their transition will be complete as soon as they land a job. While this might be true for some, others may find that a successful transition has a more complex meaning.

Transition can be brief, never-ending or some length of time in between. The speed with which senior leaders are able to find contentment, fulfillment and purpose outside of military life is determined by many factors. These include an individual’s resiliency, flexibility, adaptability, willingness to learn, and energy level. Other factors might include the length of time it takes to find a new place to belong, a new hobby or passion, or other meaningful life experiences.

In a recently-conducted, informal LinkedIn poll of senior military leaders, nearly half of the respondents indicated they still do not feel “fully transitioned” more than two years after separating from military service.

In a recently-conducted, informal LinkedIn poll of senior military leaders, nearly half of the respondents indicated they still do not feel “fully transitioned” more than two years after separating from military service. There may be many reasons for this, including but not limited to:

  • Difficulty stepping out of a professional environment and away from relationships built on shared, sometimes life-changing, challenges and accomplishments.
  • A firm belief that the military’s ways of doing business is the ideal, most efficient way to get things done; one might make external adjustments to function within a new workplace, but never internally adapt to a different system perceived as less useful or efficient.
  • Perception that, while many will offer thanks for your military service, those outside the military don’t really understand who you are and what you still have to offer.

That said, there are countless former military leaders who have taken the bull by the horns in their own transition and have found great satisfaction, sense of accomplishment and opportunities to contribute in their post-military lives. While no one can specify the “right” amount of time in which to complete the transition process, those who approach this period with careful planning and research will have an easier and likely, shorter time to achieve a new level of comfort and contentment outside of military life.

Here are some ways you might recognize that you have achieved your own definition of “military to civilian transition:”

  1. You no longer feel like a fish out of water.
  2. While you value the friendships, memories and skills you developed while in military service and they will always be a part of who you are, you appreciate the opportunity to build new personal and professional relationships and acquire new skills and experience.
  3. You spend less time griping about how the civilian workplace would be better if it were more like the military’s and more time appreciating the different advantages available in your new professional sector.
  4. Your business suit feels as comfortable as did your military uniform.
  5. You are again waking up every day with a sense of purpose and the confidence that you continue to make a difference in the lives of those who know you and work at your side.

 

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