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10 Critical Questions For Veterans Transitioning Into Civilian Career Paths

Military to Civilian Transition

Military MOS "transferable skill assessments" IGNORE these considerations
When did statistical algorithms trump human factors in veteran job-placement?

(Book Excerpt: The Prior-Service Entrepreneur © 2014)

Amid the plethora of psychological exams and personality questionnaires designed to evaluate transitioning veterans’ transferable skills and professional aptitude, I have not discovered one that answers the fundamental question, “What path to achieving success would make military veterans truly happy and professionally enriched?”

These complex tests seem to ignore the reality that those who pursue an area of passion – something that generates happiness in the action itself – are the people who tend to achieve success at the highest levels.

I have developed a “self-test” I incorporate into my work with veteran clients I believe serves to help solve that issue. It’s not complex by any stretch of the imagination; it only consists of 10 questions. However, despite its simplicity I believe the answers to these questions – honest answers derived from accurate self-assessment – will help you to identify your area of passion and guide you to a path which will allow you to achieve success.

Be completely honest with yourself – no one is judging your answers – and answer the 10 questions below.

  1. What is important to me? To be accurate, it is important you refrain from imposing judgment on your answer. This isn't about what should be important, but what is important. To some, saving the world and charity is important while for others it may be fame, fortune and glory. All answers are valid and acceptable.

  2. What makes my life meaningful? This may include something currently in your life, or something you have yet to obtain. This question requires some deeper thought, as the answer tells the world why you choose to remain alive.

  3. What fascinates me? What subject areas or topics can hold you transfixed to the point you lose track of time? What do you study, watch or read regularly without consciously making the choice? From cartoons to calculus, all answers are acceptable.

  4. What am I naturally good at? The first thing that comes to mind may be a hobby or professional skill – if so, that’s fine – but that’s not necessarily the best answer. Your answer may include items not automatically associated with a career such as super reflexes or solving crossword puzzles at amazing speeds. The key word here is “naturally,” not a skill that was learned.

  5. What makes me important to others? If I spoke to everyone with whom you associated, what would they identify as the primary contributions you make to their lives? This takes a high degree of honesty as the answer must reflect what the actual contribution is, not what you want it to be. Many times answers such as loyalty and approachability are overlooked as not being important. In this case, all answers are relevant.

  6. What values influence my decisions? Understanding the values that lead you to make decisions is commonly overlooked in a world that is quick to judge. Assume in this instance no one would judge you and you would not need to compromise. In that case, what values really drive your decisions?

  7. What makes me feel secure? There are people, places and circumstances that make you feel more comfortable than others. You tend to drop your guard and be yourself at these times. It is important to identify when and where this happens.

  8. What would make me feel successful? This doesn't suggest a predefined metric or how the world will measure your success. This is personal, and for the moment assumes no one but you will even know it happened. All answers – material, emotional, psychological and intellectual – qualify as correct.

  9. What goals have I made that still need to be fulfilled? Before the world got in the way and reality forced you to compromise your goals, what did you promise yourself you would accomplish? If you had 12 months to make good on those promises, what would be those critical items on your list? It’s time for you to rediscover those goals that were set aside and bring them back up to the surface.

  10. How do I want the world to remember me? This is what I refer to as the “legacy question,” and the answer will significantly impact the actions you take today. Make the assumption you are going to be successful and remembered; now, how will history judge and remember you? If you answered questions 1-9 honestly, you should have a head start developing your legacy.

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