For people in the military or security industry, life is full of changes. We move locations regularly, divorce rates in the military are twice that of civilian jobs and also career change is necessary for everyone. Therefore we more than most need the ability to understand who we are, what we want from life and how we are going to get it. The need to reinvent ourselves is a key to our happiness and success. The ability to know what makes us tick is vital if we are going to transition into a new career we love rather than a series of jobs we can’t stand.
You may have spent five or twenty five years in your current job and you know something is not quite right but what are you to do? I’m going to give you my take on this process, clearly it’s only my opinion and comments, as usual, are welcome.
1. Where are you right this moment?
Every so often it’s good to identify where in life you are at (A) so you can begin the process of working out where you want to be (B) and therefore how to move from A-B. Some people visualise this in their mind (Read more about this very powerful technique for attracting things into your life here) by creating an image of what they want. I do this often, most recently imagining my kids sat in the back of a white Range Rover with me driving to the beach. In theory, that image of the car attracts to me the wealth required to afford such a vehicle as well as showing my happy relationship with my children. Others write it down, whether as a brainstorm, a timeline or even print pictures off the internet to stick somewhere they can see them everyday, like the bathroom mirror. This way you are constantly reminded of what you are aiming for.
Once you have honestly assessed this you will be able to see what is preventing you from achieving it. Maybe it’s your job, your friends, your partner? What can you do about that? Only you know how far you are prepared to go which leads us to point number two.
2. What do you actually believe in?
As I’ve spoken about before, a lot of what ‘you’ are is simply what other people have told you to believe in. Whether your family or your teachers or your religion. How often do we honestly assess what we believe in or what we would fight for, regardless of what others think. I know I find this hard. If someone gives me a convincing argument I can be easily swayed into assuming their opinions, only for it to change again when someone else convinces me otherwise. So we have to determine what drives us. If you believe in protecting the weak, maybe body-guarding is suitable for you, if you believe in equality for all, maybe working with a Russian oligarch wouldn’t be ideal
3. What are your passions?
When it comes to determining what jobs you would be suitable for, know what you love. If spending every night at home with the kids is your passion, it’s unlikely that you would be happy in a job which took you away all the time. If you love being outdoors and working with disadvantaged youths, maybe being an Adventurous Training Instructor would be better than working in an office in London. Yes you have to be realistic about what income you need compared with average salaries of certain jobs, but if you love it and it makes you truly happy, could you not do without that second foreign holiday or the sports car? I guarantee that you will be happier doing a job you love than working just for the money. However a caveat with this is if your passion is not your job. If you are truly motivated by volunteering and have to get another job to pay the bills, make sure you get the work-life balance correct.
4. What would I regret if I never did it?
No one wants to get to their 60’s and wish they’d done more for themselves but they do. They go along with the wishes of other people and put their own dreams on hold. Some people plan to travel or have kids or set up their own business but never get round to it. They wait and wait and then the chance is gone. That’s why it’s necessary to go through this process from time to time, to identify what you really want then go for it. No waiting for tomorrow because we aren’t here for long enough to do that.
5. Create a structure to base your future on.
By this point you should have a good idea who you are and what you want. So take notes, use images, have reminders. Then when the going gets tough you can refer back to them. Once you understand where you are and where you want to be, if it’s truly important to get there you will find the strength to do it. If you are brutally honest you will strip away all of the noise in order to lay the foundations of a new life based on what you actually want rather than what you think others want or what you are supposed to want. Maybe you don’t want to be a close protection officer and actually want to make fine furniture or run an outward bounds centre. Once you truly understand what you want, you will find it easier to focus on and achieve.
6. Trust yourself and don’t deviate from the plan.
After completing all this soul searching and knowing what you actually want from life, you will learn to trust your own judgement and decision making process. You will be independent of thought and self reliant which means you will have a purpose and a plan. Rather than just going with the flow, you’ll change direction as required to get to your destination. You will make shit happen rather than waiting for it to happen to you.
7. Don’t fear walking the unmarked path.
There will be many who will question your decisions, whether colleagues, family members or friends. They know fear and they are worrying that you may fail. But how can you fail? You have identified your true calling and will not fold under perceived pressure. Give yourself time to re-focus on your goals by ensuring you have regular solitude-Go for a run or sit somewhere quiet for a while, it will help.
8. Find a mentor.
If you wanted to become an entrepreneur, a good start would be to read the autobiography of those you know about. Similarly if you wanted to become an actor, why not read how a famous star made it. It may not be a blueprint for you but it’s certainly a steer in the right direction. If you can’t read about it, find someone who has done it before you. It may be that a friend of a friend decided to leave the army and set up a business. Why not email them and ask some well considered questions? What about following suitable individuals on Linked In? There are a number of options for gaining the advice of a mentor and it’s likely that if they’re not too busy they’d be happy to give you a few pointers.
9. Remember that you can’t please everyone.
If one day you wake up and realise that your current career just isn’t you anymore, it’s likely that those who have trained you and supported you will not be happy. They’ll feel you are letting the side down. Your family may fear the change, the change to the status quo, the potential for lost earnings. But you are being true to yourself. You can’t do things just because others expect you to. That’s their problem to deal with, not yours. They may feel threatened, jealous that you aren’t prepared to accept your lot, that you want more. However, they shouldn’t try to stop you from being true to yourself so if they do, maybe they need to leave you to it.
10. Stay positive
No one said that it was going to be easy. A massive upheaval in your life will create a great deal of stress but once the dust has settled, you will be in a far better place and able to drive forwards towards your goals. When the going gets hard, remember why you are doing this, refer back to your timeline or another reminder of your goal. Keep your chin up and know it is for the greater good. Once you are there you will know it was worth it.
Don’t settle for second best!!