Craving Contribution and Needing Enrolment

When folks leave the Armed Forces, I see too much inactivity and hiding because of fear of the unknown. Add on top of that, the embedded military values and culture that has been instilled in people as they evolve into the Serviceperson.  And the uncertainty of what that might look like on the other side as they reclaim agency and find a new purpose as an individual.

It got me thinking…. this is about enrolment.  The main ingredient of any change effort.

How did someone remain enrolled in the journey to become a soldier / sailor / airman in the first place?  This often requires extensive changes to behaviour, you may have to wait years to get in and then we endure and succeed in passing initial training.  There are kitbags full of fear and uncertainty, and we did it anyway.

We were committed to challenging the status quo then, so why is it such an obstacle now?

Ok, age, financial situation and mindset are going to play a huge part here.  We have more to consider now than when we joined as carefree twenty-somethings with the world at our feet. And our brains are not as malleable now.

So, how might we reverse engineer this to serve us as we leave?

What might be on offer, that is so compelling we make it the main focus?

What promise might we make to ourselves… and deliver on it?

Because maybe that initial promise was broken before and we don’t want to be disappointed again.

What are we trying to change?  And what do we really want to change?

We often forget how far we have come and a little look back at that time might be a good starting point to touch on.  Bring in some that juicy nostalgia for conscious incompetence… and that we evolved and made it through. 

Aside from the usual benefits of service life, I would assert we all signed on that dotted line because deep down we thought we were contributing to a “greater good”. 

And I am wondering whether this might be a barrier for us moving forward.  In that, being a manager at a nondescript corporate organisation just doesn’t cut it. 

Because, where’s the contribution?

Or like a debut author having a number one bestseller and now the publisher is pushing them to do it again.  It’s the pressure to perform.

What difference can we make now?  Especially, when some might feel as though they didn’t make enough of an impact whilst serving. 

How might some of us feel they failed in their military careers?  And don’t want to repeat the cycle or have a skewed understanding of sunk costs. Because whether that career was a success or not in your eyes – that time was not wasted. Your knowledge and skills would not be what they are today without that lived experience.

What is the transition for?  And what might it be for, if we could make better use of it?

If your life up to now had purpose but that’s changed for some reason, what might you give a crap about now, if you went looking for it?

You have value. You are worthy. You can stand up and serve yourself.

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