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BY Brock Dudley

What are my personal and professional goals?

Hello everyone, and welcome back! Over the next 2 months, I am going to be posing four questions for all the readers. Why four Questions? Well, we’ve developed these four specific questions because we feel they spur deeper thought, and they are conversational questions that will help junior military officers gain clarity on a major decision in their lives: Stay in the military? Or transition out? If the latter, what does that look like?

Some of you may have already decided to make the transition out of the military and know you want to make the business transition, some of you may be considering making the transition out but you aren’t sure yet what route you want to go – maybe a career in civil service or maybe you want to go back to school, or maybe you are just on the fence and haven’t even decided yet. At Cameron-Brooks, we work with all of you. We act as coaches and guides who will walk beside you and assist you in making a good decision so that you can reach your personal and professional goals.

Question 1: What are my personal and professional goals?

Why is this important? Well, if you wish to cultivate a vision for your life, you must start with the end in mind. Ask yourself:  Where do I want to be in 5 years? 10 years? 20 years? Goals keep our human minds from running amuck. Without goals, we often do one, or two, of the following three things:

  1. Focus on the present and surviving the now, lacking vision for our future desires.
  2. Focus too heavily on the future and beyond, stealing us and our potential from the present.
  3. Try to achieve everything all at once, thus, paralyzing us from even embarking on the first little steps because we have so much to do. Any little thing seems unproductive.

Okay, I think my wife (who is an Artist) would be proud of me for that.

My experience

Well, let’s simplify that last statement. Without a clearly defined goal, you run the risk of endlessly wandering.

This question seems so basic, yet it is so important and truly foundational in the process of making the transition out of the military. I know from experience.

Some of you may relate. When I was in the military and started seriously considering my next steps, I thought about the following things daily, if not hourly, while at work, on deployments, and traveling to and from base in the car. I thought about it when I was home, and when I’d go for runs. It consumed me. I didn’t know where to start, but I knew the following three things:

  1. I wanted a better quality of life.
  2. I wanted a better “work-life” balance.
  3. I wanted to make more money and be in a performance-based promotion environment.

I am human. Just like you. Makes sense. The problem was none of the above was “tangible”. It wasn’t clearly defined, but rather the genesis that catalyzed me to move in the direction of making the transition out of the military towards a business career.

Now, as a Transition Coach at Cameron-Brooks, I hear one of those 3 things at least once every day on the phone.

There are many different variables in the equation towards successfully making the transition out. Some of the most common variables that I hear are money, location, lifestyle, benefits, and being closer to home and family, to name a few.

My charge to you is to think of the other important factors (and maybe even lead with these!) when making a career shift: Find work that leverages your strengths, work that you are passionate about and that holds your attention, work where there is culture fit, where you have potential to grow and make an impact. When focusing on these things, other factors like job satisfaction, lifestyle, and compensation will take care of themselves.

So let’s dig into the question…”What are my personal and professional goals?”

Where to start?

This question requires a mix of introspection, clarity, and relevance to the context which is in our case, staying in or getting out of the military. For either, here’s a structured approach:

  1. Reflect on Your Values: Before diving into specific goals, consider what matters most to you in life. Are you driven by creativity, financial stability, helping others, personal growth, or something else? Understanding your values will guide your goal-setting process.
  2. Define Your Personal Goals: This encompasses various aspects of life, such as relationships, health, hobbies, and personal development. Think about where you want to be in each of these areas in the short and long term. Try to define both, short and long-term in the number of years.
  3. Clarify Your Professional Goals: Professional goals focus on your career aspirations and ambitions. Consider where you see yourself in your career in the next few years and beyond. This could involve acquiring new skills, advancing to a higher position, starting your own business, or making a meaningful impact in your industry.
  4. Be Specific and Realistic: When articulating your goals, be specific about what you want to achieve and realistic about the steps needed to reach them.
  5. Highlight Your Motivation: Explain why these goals are important to you and how they align with your values, interests, and strengths. Get them down on paper! Demonstrating passion and enthusiasm for your goals can make your response more compelling, and so can getting them on paper on journaling about them.
  6. Show Your Growth Mindset: Communicate that you’re open to learning, adapting, and overcoming challenges along the way. Employers value candidates who demonstrate a growth mindset and are willing to continuously improve. Read books on business!
  7. Openness to Opportunities: Having a growth mindset encourages you to explore various career paths and opportunities. Instead of limiting yourself to a narrow set of options, remain open to new possibilities and experiences. I challenge you to lead the transition with what you don’t know, not with what you know. This is a mindset. Be more curious about what you don’t know as it pertains to industries and career fields than about what you do know. Do a career search and evaluate multiple types of work at once!
  8. Commit to learning and Growth: Viewing your career search as a learning process encourages you to seek feedback, reflect on your experiences, and continuously improve. It forces you to lead with what you don’t know, and not with what you know. A growth mindset enables you to make decisions differently than you used to make decisions.

Stay Tuned!

Remember, start with the end in mind, then work back from there. I encourage you to seek out information from those who have gone before you, ask questions, read books, and find a mentor and a trustworthy guide.

On May 14, I’ll be back with Question 2: Are you a development candidate?

If you want to talk about your options or are curious about Cameron-Brooks, what a development candidate is, and how we can help, reach out to me below and we’ll get you scheduled for a personal consultation. If you are in one of those three groups of people I mentioned above, you can never start too early! Start now!

Brock Dudley

Principal, Transition Coach


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