Depending on service, job field and command, life in the military can swing wildly between frantic, life-threatening action and dull, repetitive work. What almost every veteran has endured at some point is the dreaded “hurry up and wait” order.
No matter how low tempo your posting is, you can bet that at some point, some particular duty, no matter how seemingly insignificant, is going to be expected to be done absolutely right away, and then forgotten about just as quickly. Maybe it’s the need to instill discipline, maybe it’s to train for the possibility that service members are expected to jump into action at a moment’s notice. Regardless of the reason, if you’ve been on active duty, you’ve probably had to deal with the demand that, at any given time, you may be called on today to get something done yesterday.
For instance, read these phrases aloud and ask yourself if any of them raise your pulse.
- “The CO is doing a surprise walk-through.”
- “Here comes Gunny!”
- “Aren’t you supposed to be roving right now?”
For those of us who crave the rush of adrenaline that comes from being deployed to a combat zone or even just having a new collateral duty dropped on your lap at 1600 on a Friday, there are high-tempo civilian jobs that fit the bill. But for everyone else, separation from military service likely means that the world suddenly slows down.
For garden-variety change of pace struggles, try to get ahead of your problems
Wishful thinking about a job or situation that isn’t likely to jibe with your preferences and experience will probably lead to frustration. Aside from the normal financial and career concerns, this is another reason why making a wise decision can have a huge impact on your quality of life. If you find that you enjoy the prospect of being called to action at any time, you are much better off as a firefighter or police officer than sitting in a darkened basement poring over a computer monitor as a programmer or freelance writer.
Your choices aren’t limited to career
If you find that your lifestyle needs a bit of spice, try adding a high-energy hobby to your routine. Hiking, diving or boating can add the kind of excitement a more inert professional life is lacking. Even just getting out and getting some exercise can help. Chances are, no one is going to drag you to the gym for a workout and scream slogans at you to make sure you are giving your all, so you are going to have to find a way to do it on your own. The result is better health and more energy.
Above all, remember that you can choose to do what you want
Find the job, work schedule and free-time activities that suit your preferences. Feel free to shake it up from time to time if it gets boring. And if all else fails, consider calling up one of your old senior NCOs. There’s a good chance that, for a small fee, they’ll be happy to shout obscenities at you over the phone until you get that old warm-and-fuzzy active duty feeling back.
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