11/10/2016 by Melissa C. Martin
Finding fullfillment after your military career
Are you ready to make a change? Get some tips for getting started on a successful second career.
For more than twenty-years, Carla’s primary focus was working her way
up the chain of command in her career as a Log O (logistics officer).
Day after day, Carla she worked hard to meet the demands of her
superiors and colleagues, until one morning she woke up with a sickened,
sinking feeling in her stomach.
It was her career, Carla realized. Having spent nearly half of her
life working in an unsatisfying job, with few genuine accomplishments
and the goals of her youth long forgotten, Carla had hit mid life and
she didn’t like it. To alleviate the feeling in her stomach, Carla began
making a conscious effort to pay more attention to the gap between the
reality of her life and the dreams and passions she once had. She was
determined to pounce on her one last chance for a career that could make
the second half of her life more meaningful and fulfilling.
In 2004, Carla left her job on the base and decided to nourish her
passion to serve the elderly and today, she is the owner and operator of
an adult day care facility.
Is Carla’s story unusual? According to a study reported in Prevention Magazine,
not in the slightest; “79% of baby boomers will expect to work at least
part-time well into their golden years,” the study has revealed. “A
growing number of adults are looking at their 40s, 50s, and 60s as the
right time to start fresh in an entirely new field.” What drives adults
to change their careers? The answer, in a word, is midlife.
In the military world, it can mean having had previous career or
trade and then the twenty, twenty-five or thirty year mark looms…And
then the decision making begins.
What to do after your life in the military? A common observation I
have seen from military clients is,”The military (life or lifestyle) is
all I’ve known for XYZ years.” So true. So now what?
Now comes the transition to the civilian work world.
Craving a more fulfilling and meaningful career is just one area of
focus during mid life adjustment. As adults reach mid life, at a time
when parents and older relatives begin to die, the realization that
their lives, too, will come to an end begins to hit home. Suddenly the
importance of achieving goals and doing what makes us happy becomes much
more important. This is the time closet authors, entrepreneurs,
musicians or artists will begin thinking about careers to match their
energy, vitality, and passion for life.
The life cycle is, for most of us, fairly predictable. From
adolescence to age 30, most of us are consumed with learning how to
become who we think we want to be. We go from our 30’s to our 40’s
working and living that role. But at age 40, mid life, after having
reached this goal, many discover it wasn’t what we wanted to do after
all. At this mid life point, after having worked so hard only to find
ourselves wanting, many are willing to take on the challenge of more
risk and freeing ourselves from the burden of other’s expectations.
After proper self-assessments and self-assessments, more ex-military
are starting businesses, gaining respect, and finding purpose in their
civilian mid life careers.
The lesson we can take for Carla’s story is that mid life should not
be feared, and that the sinking feeling in your stomach should not be
ignored. Both are an accepted call to action. Transitioning to a
civilian job, career, or lifestyle does take work. But if you truly
follow your passion, the effort will provide infinitely positive
Are you ready to make a change? Here are a few tips for getting started on a successful second career.
Make a list of the things missing in your life
Do you long to revive a passion from your youth that you never found time to pursue?
Is it music, a sport, writing, cooking, entrepreneurship?
It doesn’t matter what, as long as it’s something you truly have a
desire to do. If you’ve already got a clear picture of the passions
you’d like to pursue, then identify small, achievable ways you can start
incorporating them into your life.
Imagine that you already have one million dollars in the bank
would you spend your time each day? Think of the environment you’d like
to be in, the people you’d want to know, and how you would relate to
them. What activities would you engage in?
Chances are your passions come to the surface when you play-out your
“winning the lottery” fantasies. Although we’re not all destined to be
millionaires, that shouldn’t hold you back from following your desires
and placing more value in yourself, regardless of your bank account
Tap into your wisdom and experience to re-evaluate your current career
yourself what’s not working and what you want to change. Use this time
to reflect on your life. Are there any passions or dreams that you
abandoned in your youth? If you don’t know what you want to do, try
volunteering as a way to develop new interests. Find a way to live your
Understand your passion, but also where your strengths lie.
It’s critical to take an inventory of your life and to determine what
is really important. Make a list of the things you are passionate
about, and then narrow the list to items that present an opportunity to
generate income. If you’re not pursuing your passion, what’s in the way?
What do you need to do to move forward with pursuing your plan?
Start right now
Over the next 30 days; make a commitment to
yourself to identify one thing you can do to begin pursuing your
passion—and start doing it! Research ways to integrate your passion with
your current obligations and take those first steps into your second
career with achievable goals. You’ll soon discover that living and
working your passion is being in control of your own life.
I have worked with countless ex-military members and military spouses
who were contemplating a job or career change. Contact me at