There are three worlds of emotion surrounding deployments: (1) excitement, (2) grim determination, and (3) dread. There is no getting around the challenges of a major deployment for military members. There are long hours, arduous environmental conditions, the unique mix of ever present boredom and danger, and missing loved ones.
A good way to help overcome those feelings is to challenge yourself to use every minute of a deployment in a way that helps advance your career, goals, motivation, and health.
Here are six ways to use your time well on a deployment.
Using Your Time Well on Deployment #1 – A Perspective of Improvement. You may be on a platoon sized base, an aircraft carrier, or in the Republic of Korea. Each deployed location offers different resources and abilities to improve yourself and advance your career. Focus on what you have and can do at your current location. Do not focus on what you do not have or would like to have. Always focus on what you can do to improve yourself and career.
Using Your Time Well on Deployment #2 – Job Shadow A Different Military Specialty. Testing out and understanding a different military specialty is a challenge when you are not deployed. However, on deployments, you get to see lots of different specialties working together and doing the real work of their military occupations. If you are interested in a different specialty, then go find an individual at your level that you can talk to and job shadow them for a few hours. This may confirm a switch or make you more satisfied in your current role.
Using Your Time Well on Deployment #3 – Take a Class, Read a Book or Get a Peer Teacher. Formal instruction is a great way to learn, constructively pass the time, and get a new perspective. If you are fortunate enough that your schedule allows for an instructor lead course, then start with one (1) class, not three. This ensures it does not interfere with your military duties. If you cannot take a class, then find some books to continue your personal education. Finally, great education occurs when others show us new tasks step by step. Maybe some Engineers can show you how to setup an electrical system in a small house. Education is a mindset of learning that occurs everywhere, not only in a classroom.
Using Your Time Well on Deployment #4 – Get Ahead on Your Military Distance Education. Nearly all ranks and services have some type of distance learning requirement for promotion. Make completing as many of these courses as possible a top priority. Deployments give advanced professional responsibility and they can also prepare you for additional formal military schools that come when a deployment ends. Finally, distance education gives enlisted and non-commissioned officers valuable promotion points for their next promotion.
Using Your Time Well on Deployment #5 – Stay Fit & Healthy. Do everything you can to stay healthy, exercise, and eat as well as you can. Getting regular sleep is a distant memory, so exercise, maintain a balanced diet, and stay away from junk food. All of these small steps help tremendously in your personal health, energy levels, and your ability to handle stress. Be aware of the effects of too many energy drinks and use them sparingly with lots of water.
Using Your Time Well on Deployment #6 – Commit to a Good Attitude. It is so easy to complain on deployments, sit around with a bad attitude, and watch the clock on the wall. Instead, commit to staying positive and leading by example in all things. A good deployment starts and ends with a good attitude.
Deployments are hard. Deployments are dangerous. Commit to a good attitude, be as healthy as you can be, and look for as many large and small ways to continue your personal and professional development. Goals and a daily plan on how you will improve go a long way to having a great deployment. Be Safe!
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About the blogger:
Chad Storlie is the author of two books: Combat Leader to Corporate Leader and Battlefield to Business Success. Both books teach how to translate and apply military skills to business. An adjunct Lecturer of Marketing at Creighton University and Bellevue University in Omaha, NE. Chad is a retired US Army Special Forces officer with 20+ years of Active and Reserve service in infantry, Special Forces, and joint headquarters units. He served in Iraq, Bosnia, Korea, and throughout the United States. He was awarded the Bronze Star, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Special Forces Tab, and the Ranger Tab. In addition to teaching, he is a mid-level marketing executive and has worked in marketing and sales roles for various companies, including General Electric, Comcast, and Manugistics. He has been published in The Harvard Business Review blog, Business Week Online, Forbes, Christian Science Monitor, USA Today, and over 40 other publications. He has a BA from Northwestern University and an MBA from Georgetown University.
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