On a recent flight to Dallas, Texas, I sat and watched the multitudes of passengers file past me to take their seats. In very short order, the seats filled up randomly like a Sudoku puzzle. As the last few available chairs sat empty, a man approached my row and asked if the seat next to me was taken. I said, “It’s yours!” and got up so he could settle in.
It became instantly obvious he was most likely active duty military. He had a ruck sack attached to his back and a high and tight haircut. One look at him and you just knew this was one tough Soldier.
With three passengers now tightly packed into the sardine can sized airplane, we each exchanged the normal greetings and pleasantries one would expect while traveling. Small talk. Minimal chatter with strangers. How ya doin’?
On this particular flight, the Flight Attendant broke from the usual script and inserted bits of humor within her safety instructions. This made for a more enjoyable beginning to the flight as I’ve essentially memorized their monologue word for word. Her humor also kept me from locking my noise-eliminating headphones upon my ears and getting lost in one of my favorite playlists.
It also kept me from missing out on interacting with a Soldier with a lot of interesting stories.
Rather than recap all of the interesting things I learned during my conversation with this Warrior, I will share an important part of that conversation.
I learned this gentleman had just two months left before retirement. He dedicated over 20 years to serving our United States and was now facing the next chapter in his life. What struck me was not just the historical context of his military career, but the outlook he had for the future. Why?
He had a plan.
I sat in my seat and heard a first-hand account of what he intended to do after he wore the Uniform for the last time. He went point-by-point explaining what he planned to do and where he currently stands in the process. A very detailed, specific, goal-oriented plan unfolded from the person in the seat next to me.
Here are the general highlights of what I learned about his transition plan into the civilian workforce:
• What he planned to do after retirement is something he is already in the process of doing now. Rather than jump into the activities after retirement, his plan has already started. He is actively participating in the things he plans to do once fully retired. And, he is not easing into it either. His actions speak louder than words and he provided specific examples of current work he’s doing and how he will continue doing the same once he officially becomes a Veteran.
• His plan included the needs of his Family. This Soldier had a specific plan outlined for his wife and step-daughter. Also, it wasn’t something he just came up with and issued as an order, he explained the discussions they had as a family unit and how they arrived at the decisions that made sense for each person involved.
• His plan was clear as to what he wanted AND what he did not want. This was no pie-in-the–sky wish list; he had a clear definition of what he wanted. He considered the things he and his family did not want as well, and was taking action to make sure nothing got in their way. It appeared as though if anything he did not want presented itself, he had contingency plans at the ready so he could pivot and work toward the intended outcome.
I truly enjoyed this airplane conversation. I expect this Soldier and his family will meet and exceed all the goals laid out in their plans.
What about you? Do you have a solid plan for your exit from the Military? How do you include the important people in your life as you develop these plans?
He has a plan, do you?
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