I’m Out – Now What?

usmc_logoOK!  You went through T.A.P.S. or at the very least you were physically present; however, I’ve heard that the T.A.P.S. of long gone past is still the format of today. Ugh! OK, no program bashing in this post.  I compare getting out of the Marines similar to planning for the vacation of a lifetime… When I’m going somewhere awesome, I can hardly contain myself.  This has been evident when I show up on the beaches of Hawaii with no summer clothes OR when I jaunt to San Francisco and have no long sleeved shirts. My excitement took over and my sense left my brain.  There are so many details during the process of getting out of the Corps; however, despite all of the planning, one can find themselves suit-less or sleeveless.

The first thing that you should do is nothing.  Take a deep breath, shake out your arms and simply breathe.  OK, the bills are piling, the spouse or children are wondering and in certain situations your parents are wanting to know what you’re going to do now.  Breathe. It’s difficult to do much of anything if you’re in a flutter.  Sometimes doing nothing is the best something that you can do.  So, do it – breathe.

Seek out a mentor, whether it be me or someone else, find someone that you believe can be of help.  I strongly suggest against family, only because they may know you too well OR there may be extenuating situations that will impact the focus.  It’s odd, yet, sometimes a total stranger can provide better direction than someone who has known you a lot longer. Irrespective of who you choose – choose.  You can always switch.

Accept that you may not know what you want to do.  Be ok with not having a plan and understand that some of the most successful people have made several mistakes over and over again.

Here are a few ideas to get your started:

  • Discuss with your Mentor what you enjoy doing.  Do not focus on finding a job or making application, just have a discussion or two about what you like, what you know how to do and what you would be interested in learning.  Some of the best ideas come from out of the blue, forcing answers is never fun and rarely does is prove fruitful.  Just be conversant.
  • Consider your immediate options i.e. finances for education, proximity of where you are in relation to a major city and what, if anything might be impeding your ability to pursue your goals.  This is not suggested to foil your plans; however, one needs to know the obstacles before they can overcome them.
  • Do something that you enjoy that has little to nothing to do with all of this talking.

Once you’ve done the above a time or two.. take out a big piece of blank paper.  Yes, paper! No, iPad, tablet, smart or dumb phone – just a white sheet of paper.  Grab a pen and just write the words that come to mind i.e. Puppies, barbel, chex mix etc… not sure how I came up with those; however, that’s what came to the brain. Write all over the paper, this exercise is NOT intended to be neat & clean. Continue to write freely, once you hit your first wall…. start to write things that relate to the following topics:

  1. Fun
  2. Work
  3. Talent
  4. Obligations
  5. Detest

Once you’ve written all that you can including words that relate to the above 5 topics – put the pen down. Review your once clean paper.  What similarities do you see?  In other words are there several words that relate to one another?  Do you see a pattern?  If so – what is it?

I’ve done this exercise a lot and in most cases the writer’s ideal job surfaces.  This is not 100%; however, it can be very effective in several things.  Each once blank sheet of paper tells its own story and it can sometimes be the core reason as to why you choose one profession over another.  There are several situations where someone will take this once clean sheet of paper with them to remind them of what they want.  We all need goals and we also need inspiration, this once clean sheet of paper can serve as both.

If you’ve done this and all you can see is a bunch of words scribbled on that once clean sheet of paper – send it to me and we can go through it together.  I have no magic formula; however, in situations where I’m editing – I get to a point where I’ve stared at the work for so long that I can no longer discern anything.  This may be your situation with that once clean sheet of paper.

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