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Make 2017 the Year to Get Your Career in Gear


When the calendar page flips to January 1, many people refresh their goals and resolutions to attack the new year with revised plans, dreams, and hopes.

As a job seeker, particularly if you are facing separation or retirement from your military career in the next 12 months, setting goals for your career might feel daunting. After all, you are leaving one career, culture, system, process, group, and knowledge base and moving to another one that is less familiar.

A Healthy Career Starts with Knowing Yourself

Often when we think of career we think of resumes, social media, interviews, and thank you notes. Those things are very important, but so is a sense of self, purpose, and direction.

How do you find out what you're passionate about? Think about how you spend your free time when not working: Do you restore old cars, remodel your home, coach youth sports, read about technology, or mentor veterans? The things you spend time on often indicate where you are most interested.

Also, pay attention to the people you admire and are inspired by. Think about who you feel drawn to: Inspirational leaders such as Oprah, Gandhi or Deepak Chopra? Or, titans of industry like Warren Buffett, Donald Trump, and Sir Richard Branson? Or, are you inspired by your loving mother, strict father, or sibling who overcame a disability to thrive as an athlete?

The better you know yourself, the better you can position yourself for career success after leaving the military.

Inventory Your Goals, Passions and Career Vision

For the next 12 months, put yourself in a position of control and power over your transition. Reflect on the following questions to regain your sense of self and approach your career with confidence:

  1. What are you passionate about?
  2. What would you do if money/location/certifications/approval from loved ones wasn't an issue?
  3. Who inspires you?
  4. What makes you feel powerful and confident?
  5. What does success mean to you?
  6. How many of your decisions are guided by other people, and not you?
  7. Do you trust yourself to make good choices?
  8. Who do you do your best work with?
  9. What do you define as "meaningful" work?
  10. What are your values?
  11. Have you done things (actions) consistent with your values?
  12. What problem are you passionate about solving?
  13. What makes you credible?
  14. Are you trustworthy?
  15. What would other people say are your greatest strengths?
  16. How do you take care of yourself?
  17. Are you nurturing?
  18. Can you solve problems?
  19. Do you want to lead?
  20. What are you most proud of?
  21. What do you regret? Did you learn something?
  22. How do you continue to serve others (if you've left the military)?
  23. What do you do really well?
  24. What do you do well, but don't enjoy doing?
  25. How would you like to be remembered?

Take inventory of your answers to those questions, and look for patterns. Common themes or answers will indicate places you might explore for career growth, and others where you might feel stuck or uninspired. Know yourself well, and the decision making process of growing your career becomes easier.

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Lida Citroën, a branding expert based in Denver, has made a career of helping people and companies create new or enhanced identities. She is passionate about helping veterans learn how to compete for careers in the civilian sector. A TEDx Speaker, Lida presents her unique personal branding training programs across the U.S., at military installations and events, serves on the Board of Directors of NAVSO  volunteers with ESGR, and has produced numerous programs and materials to help military veterans successfully transition after service. If you have a transition question Lida can help answer, email her at She is also the author of the best selling book, "Your Next Mission: A personal branding guide for the military-to-civilian transition," available at and on Amazon.