Our Podcast

BY Joel Junker

Finding Purpose in Your Post Military Career (E191)

When I meet with junior military officers JMOs to discuss their career goals, I ask them, “What will make a happy, successful career for you?” I deliberately ask them an open ended question to leave a lot of space on where they can take their answer.

I might hear things like, “Using my technical skills,” “Solving problems and making an impact,” or, “Learning, growing and developing.” However, the number one response I have heard over my 25-year career is, “I want to have meaning and purpose.”

Finding purpose in your post military career is a common concern.

Purpose and Passion Are Different

Yes, I agree! Finding meaning and purpose in your post military career are critical to career and life satisfaction. We all want to do work and live a life that matters. We want to know the time and effort we put forth will make a difference in this world.

Yet, over the last year or so, there has become a shift in the response. I now occasionally hear, “I want to do something that I am passionate about.” When I ask them to elaborate, often they describe working in industries where they have hobbies such as, “Crossfit,” “Outdoor activities,” “CrossFit”,  “Sports,” and others. Some might say something like, “Working to preserve the environment.”

You Grow Into and Develop Passion

I see passion as something that we grow into over time. It is similar to love in a relationship. Over time and with experience, it deepens and becomes stronger. The problem when I hear JMOs talking about passion is that they seek something external to give them that meaning. They are looking for CrossFit, the environmental impact, alternative energy, or the outdoors to do it for them. In the end, it won’t satiate them.

Purpose Comes from Within

I see purpose as something that gives your work meaning. Purpose comes from within you. It is not external. You find meaning from what you give and the joy of using your talents to make an impact. Purpose, or meaning, which I am using interchangeably here, does not come from wearing a uniform, company name, or industry. Those are external. They do support and facilitate it, but they can’t do it; only you, the individual, can. You can do this by leading and developing people, leading change to build an organization, using your talents and growing, and more.

I do not want to hold anyone back from pursuing their dreams. That is not the intent of this podcast or post. Rather, my intent is to make the case that pursuing meaning is more important, and from my perspective, passion and purpose are different.

In this podcast, I tackle the topic of passion and purpose. It’s a lot easier to talk about than write about here. I want to admit that this is MY opinion fully, and I know people will disagree with me. I would love to hear from you. I am not trying to be right, but rather help JMOs understand that finding meaning in work is important and that it will come from inside them and not to look externally for it.

Thank you for listening to the Cameron-Brooks podcast! As you consider your potential transition from the military to the business world, if you’d like to talk about your marketability or how Cameron-Brooks can guide you to launching your career, please contact us directly. Schedule a call here. 

Cameron-Brooks has a 50-year track record of guiding military officers to create a step-by-step plan to learn about their options, connect their military experiences directly to opportunities in corporate America, craft a resume that will stand out to hiring managers, and ultimately launch a successful business career.