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  • Justin Jacobs

How Coaching Can Help You Transition Out of the Military Successfully

You’ve decided that it is time to hang up the uniform and end your service as a senior leader in the Armed Forces of the United States.


Congratulations!


You have made one the most difficult and important decisions of your life.


Now what? What is the next chapter of life going to look like? What do you want to do? Where are you going to live. What will your work entail? Where do you want to have an impact?


You have a lot to consider, and limited time to decide.


Your desire to continue to serve others through your work may lead you to certain industries, organizations, or groups. Your need to have sufficient income to cover your current standard of living likely plays a major role in your decision. What about the needs of your family/dependents/significant others?


Here are five uncertainties that military veterans often encounter upon retiring from the military and ways that coaching can help:


1. Loss of identity:


Transitioning from the military to civilian life often brings about a significant loss of identity. Your military service may have become a defining aspect of who you are. The structured routines, clear hierarchy, and shared purpose of military life create a strong sense of identity. However, upon retirement, it's common to struggle with redefining yourself outside of the military context. You may find it challenging to adjust to a civilian identity and feel a sense of detachment or confusion about your purpose and place in society.


How do you envision navigating this transition and finding a new sense of identity beyond the military?


To address this, it is crucial to explore personal values, interests, and strengths beyond the military experience. Coaching provides a safe space for veterans to reflect on their core values, passions, and unique qualities. Through self-discovery exercises and open dialogue, we can uncover hidden talents and potential, helping veterans build a new identity based on their true selves.


For example, I worked with a transitioning veteran who had difficulty identifying their identity outside the military. By exploring his natural strengths and talents, we discovered his talent for teaching others. He felt most comfortable teaching difficult concepts in an easy-to-understand format in front of a group. With focused coaching sessions, he found a new purpose as a teacher and trainer with an organization he had never considered working for and found great joy and fulfillment. This empowered him to rebuild his identity around his newfound passion and make a positive impact in his post-military life.


 

2. Financial instability:


The shift from a steady military paycheck to managing personal finances can cause anxiety and uncertainty, especially for those who may not have had to handle their own financial matters before. How much money you need to make to pay the bills varies widely, but the need to provide does not.


While we can discuss financial stability in our coaching sessions, I am not a financial management specialist. If you would like to work with one, I have several awesome referrals to veterans that now serve as financial management specialists that focus on veterans only.


 

3. Difficulty adjusting to civilian life:


Transitioning to civilian life can be a daunting experience. It took anywhere from 8 weeks to 4 years to get you in the service. It only took a few days to get you out! You may encounter challenges in finding suitable employment, establishing social connections, and adapting to the different lifestyle and culture outside the military.


Employment can be a significant concern. The military provides a clear career path, but the civilian job market may appear uncertain and unfamiliar. Veterans may struggle to translate their military skills and experiences into a language that civilian employers understand. They may also face difficulties in networking and understanding the civilian workplace dynamics. Perhaps you want to try something completely different. How do you plan to address these challenges?


In Coaching, we will work together to address these challenges. We will focus on finding the right work for you based on your strengths and desires. We can also use your transferable skills to craft compelling stories as you prepare for interviews. Additionally, we can explore strategies for networking, leveraging military networks, and connecting with organizations that value the unique strengths you bring to the table.


One veteran I worked with felt stuck in a horrible job after having left the military one year prior. The contract work that was advertised was not what ended up being the day-to-day work for this accomplished veteran. He experienced toxic leadership, 14-hour days, and micro-managing. Through coaching, we identified his strong project management and team leadership skills developed during his military service. We worked to revamp his resume to highlight his skills and got him to multiple interviews in government and private industry positions. As a result, he secured a fulfilling role in a company that appreciated his military background and provided a supportive work environment.


 

4. Physical and mental health issues:


Transitioning from military service to civilian life can present a range of physical and mental health challenges, stemming from your dedicated service in the armed forces. These issues can manifest in the form of physical injuries sustained during combat or training, as well as mental health disorders that may arise or persist because of the unique stressors encountered during your military service. Recognizing the significance of these challenges, it is crucial you receive the necessary support and resources you need to address your physical and mental well-being.


As a coach, I have a moral and ethical obligation to refer anyone suffering from diagnosable mental health issues to an appropriate mental health professional. Coaches work with clients that are healthy, whole, and capable of doing the work to achieve their goals. Veterans with diagnosed mental health issues like post-traumatic stress (PTS), depression, suicidal ideation, or substance abuse require the help of a medical professional.


Transitioning from military service to civilian life can evoke feelings of fear, anxiety, and doubts, even if you don't have a diagnosed mental health issue. These emotions may arise due to uncertainties surrounding your future prospects, career opportunities, and the challenges of adapting to a new lifestyle outside the military.


As you embark on your journey to civilian life, it is natural for you to have fears and doubts about what lies ahead. Leaving behind the structure, camaraderie, and sense of purpose that military service provides can create a void and uncertainty about your new identity and role in society. You may wonder about your ability to find meaningful employment, establish stable business networks, or integrate into civilian organizations successfully.


Anxiety may also accompany the transition process, as you grapple with unfamiliar environments, new responsibilities, and the challenges of adapting to civilian norms. You may worry about encountering obstacles in pursuing their career aspirations, managing personal finances, or balancing family and personal life.


These concerns are valid. Coaching on these topics can play a vital role in alleviating those fears and boosting your confidence during this transitional period. I have worked with many clients experiencing anxiety about a diverse set of issues. Anxiety is normal when we are out of our comfort zone, and leaving the military can be a relief, but it also takes us out of our comfort zone. In coaching, we can work on handling anxiety and learning techniques to practice mindfulness and creating new mental frameworks for how we deal with uncertainty.


 

5. Lack of purpose:


Military service often offers a clear sense of purpose and a defined mission. After retiring, it's common to struggle with finding a new purpose or direction in life. This lack of purpose can lead to feelings of aimlessness, frustration, and a sense of being adrift. How do you plan to reconnect with a sense of purpose? Have you explored your strengths, values, and long-term goals to discover what truly matters to you beyond the military?


In Coaching, we delve into understanding your unique strengths, personal values, and long-term goals. By identifying what truly matters to you, I can help you reconnect with a sense of purpose and meaning.


For example, I worked with a client who felt lost and lacked a sense of purpose at their present job. Through coaching sessions, he gained confidence and clarity on the skills and values that were important to him. This realization led to a career change that provided him with new work that better used his skills and abilities. This endeavor provided him with a renewed sense of purpose and fulfillment, allowing him to channel his energy into meaningful work.


 

Transitioning from the military to civilian life is a unique journey, and the challenges you will face are varied. As someone who has personally experienced some of these uncertainties, I understand what you're going through.


Remember, you are not alone in this journey.


In my role as a veteran and certified coach, I specialize in helping you discover hidden truths within yourself and navigate the transition process effectively. I offer a supportive environment where deep listening and transformative conversations take place, aiming to assist you in transitioning well.


I don't offer quick-fix solutions or generic advice. Instead, I focus on providing personalized guidance and helping you develop a renewed sense of confidence, clarity, and joy.


If you're interested, I invite you to sign up for a free consultation. Together, we can work towards incredible shifts in your perspective and beliefs, ultimately leading you to a place where you feel empowered, confident, and fulfilled in your post-military life.


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