The beginning of the year often causes us to reminisce over the previous 12 months as we think about the things that have happened. We take time to reflect on the good times and the bad times in an effort to make adjustments for the new year. This is a good time to look back over our transition to think about setbacks, failures and successes that we’ve had. It’s also a good time to make adjustments for the future as we continue to focus on a successful military to civilian transition.
Learning from Setbacks
We all know that transitioning from the military can be a life changing event. It is often filled with fear, happiness, worry, and joy. If we have the ability, it is best to start early, taking the time to make a plan can help launch a very successful transition.
Even with a well thought out plan, there are bound to be setbacks and obstacles here and there but learning from them and being resilient can make a huge difference in moving forward.
When I began my transition, I made a detailed plan. I thought about places to live, career choices and how to re-brand myself for my new career. I even started working on various certifications that would help me be better prepared for my new career.
I started transition leave with a job offer in hand, which soon fell through, leaving me unemployed a mere three days before my separation date. I soon found another position and after beginning my first job after the military as a Government Contractor, I was laid off when the company lost the contract.
Did I have a bad plan? Did I not follow through well? Looking back, I know I had a good plan, I just had setbacks along the way. But after each setback, I took the time to readjust. I took time to try new things. Most importantly, I took the time to learn from the obstacles and mistakes as I focused on moving forward. Hindrances are bound to happen during transition, but learning from them is a critical step in being successful.
Transitioning from the military is tough. We all know this because we hear it over and over again. We hear the horror stories and we are often bombarded by people who made mistakes during their transition and want to pass on some lessons learned.
The only problem with this is that many of us tend to focus on the hard parts. We over exaggerate the difficulties and sometimes leave out one of the most important parts, the successes. Sure, transition is difficult, and without a great plan it becomes even more difficult. But this time is also filled with new challenges that help us grow. It is filled with new experiences with our friends and family that we may not have been able to have while in the service.
After experiencing setbacks in my experiences, it wasn’t until I stopped to think about the things that were going great that I started to celebrate. As you transition, you will have stumbling blocks in some way, shape or form. Likewise, you will also have successes.
Your success might be getting a second interview for a job that you want. It may be receiving a determination on your VA disability claim. It may be landing the job of your dreams or it may be closing on your new home. Whatever it is, no matter how big or how small, celebrate it. Pat yourself on the back and give yourself the credit you deserve.
Making Adjustments for the Future
Taking time to reevaluate your transition can be a great experience. It is much like taking the time to review the past year and allowing it to lead you to New Year’s resolutions.
We often decide to change things and do things different in the next year based on the wins and losses that we have experienced. It gives us a sense of purpose and a sense of hope for what we can accomplish.
Thinking about transition should be no different. Learn from your setbacks, celebrate your successes and most important, make adjustments for the future.
Whether it’s growing in your new career, getting closer to family and friends or taking time out to relax more, it’s important to continue growing along your personal path. Make your goals your own and after you’ve had time to reevaluate your transition, get back out there and focus on the future.
Jamaal Wheaton is a recently transitioned Army Veteran with over 12 years of Active Duty service. He is the Founder and Owner of the Wheaton Group, a Public Relations firm that specializes in being a voice for Veteran and Military related issues. Jamaal currently works as a Government Contractor for the Federal Government and shares his personal experience of transition with the hopes of helping others navigate the through their own transition.