Take the Initiative, Seize the Opportunity
Once you have decided on a transition path, whether you decide to go to college, start your own business, participate in a Career Skills Program or start searching for a new career it's time to start integrating it into your daily routine. The first step is taking an objective look at all of the big tasks that need to get done to successfully meet your objective(s).
Once you identify the big tasks that need to be accomplished you can start to make a list of the small tasks you will need to get done to complete those pieces of the plan.
Think of your transition as an operations order. Create one by substituting military terms with civilian ones as appropriate. Create a comprehensive description of what you want to do and how you will do it using the framework the military taught you.
The beginning of your document will describe your current situation, your areas of interest, the environment you and your situation are taking place in, who's on your side, who's not on your side and who is willing to help you along the way.
The second portion will state your mission. This is simply the "5 W's and the How" that the S3 is always talking about. Describe the Who, What, When, Where, Why and How this situation going to be dealt with.
The third section should state your intent. "I am going to State College of Choice to attain an Undergraduate degree in Engineering."; "I am going to learn how to weld and become a journeyman." and "I am going to work for Some Company as a human resources specialist" are some examples. Keep this paragraph simple. The first sentence should state your intent and you can add a supporting sentence or two that help define your mission.
Describe your concept of operations next.
- What information do you need to gather to accomplish your goal? Do you need to research colleges, potential employers, job markets, etc?
- What do you have to build to support it? Is your resume looking sharp? Do you have business cards? Do you have your school transcripts together?
- Do you need to finance your plan? If so, who's going to pay for it? Are there organizations that can help foot the bill? Have you talked with them to see what documents they need to get the process started?
- How are you going to pursue your objective? Are you sending targeted resumes or college applications? Are you randomly walking into big buildings downtown and asking for work? This section is where you describe your plans and how you will go and get what you want.
- Do you have other obligations that need to be attended to while you pursue your goal? Is your significant other truly on board? Is the lack of your presence around the house and your temporary commitment to the pursuit of a different career path going to bring about an emotional temper tantrum?
Finally, you need to determine some checkpoints along the way so you can determine your level of progress. Start with a simple list of milestones you expect to pass during your transition and then refine it as needed until you successfully reach your goal.
Keep a positive attitude throughout the process. There are plenty of people who want to help you achieve your goal and in most cases all you have to do is ask for a little help.
Decide what you want, make a plan to get it, adjust the plan as needed and seize your opportunity to redefine your self, what you do for a living and who you work for.