We seem to have new reasons to be sad every year, often accompanied by moments of great joy. For example, in 2011 the world watched in delight as the final movie in the Harry Potter series hit the big screen, and then walked away totally distraught with the thought that the days of Harry Potter were over. Sure, we can re-watch the movies and re-read the books over and over (and we do), but it will never be the same as the first time.
But then comes a day when you open your Internet browser and not only are they making a new movie in the Harry Potter Universe (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, coming this November), they are making a play and a corresponding book (Harry Potter and The Cursed Child, coming at the end of July). They made Harry Potter Land in Orlando, FL, and now they've made one in Los Angeles, CA. Yes, we can never relive the experience of the first movies and books in exactly the same way, but we have been given a second, third, and fourth chance. If these new movies, books, and theme parks continue to do well, we may get even more!
How Does This Relate to Military Transition?
Many service members leave the military either hating their time in or loving it, but they almost all have moments they will look back on with longing. Likewise, when you enter the civilian workforce, it is likely that at some point you will lose your job or decide it's time for a career change. Whatever the reason, there will come a time in life when you are going through a transition, and find it difficult. You wonder if life will ever be the same, if you have perhaps left the good years behind you. This is the time when you look back and think the wonder years are mere memories… but you are wrong. Here are a few lessons Harry Potter can teach us about the transition to the civilian workforce.
1. Harry Potter's Resurgence Gives Us Hope
Obviously, your military career or other job was not the same as the Harry Potter experience. It was real and, in many ways, more meaningful. But there may have been that sense of magic in serving your country that you hope to one day recapture, and if Harry Potter can serve as any sort of life lesson, you mustn't give up hope.
Your old job and career may be behind you, but it certainly doesn't mean your glory years are done or that you have to be bored going forward. As there’s occasionally a boring video game or connected book in the Harry Potter universe, you might have some side gigs along the way, or even a job that you have to take to just pay the bills, that make you feel like you've off-track. But with hard work and a well-thought out career plan, you can get yourself on track and make your dream come true.
Don't give up hope. There is always more to come.
2. Will Your New Experiences Live Up to the Old Ones?
It doesn't matter if the new Harry Potter book and play aren't as "good" as the old ones. They might be, they might not be (per your tastes). They are new experiences, unique in their own ways, and give us glimpses into this world in magic that will (hopefully) emotionally connect with you in ways the old books and movies no longer do.
Look at your next job or career path as a new experience that can take you to the next level. Don't worry about whether it can be as cool as your last job, but focus on the overall story -- what can this new job teach you? When you add it to your resume, what story does it tell?
Your new job doesn't have to replicate your old one, or be cool in the same ways. What matters is that it helps you grow into the person you want to be. Just like the new Harry Potter properties cannot be the old ones, as long as they add to the story of J.K. Rowling's magical universe, we can enjoy these stories and embrace the next step in our Harry Potter experience.
See the bigger picture and what the overall story of your career will be.
3. Don't Do It Alone
Someone, or more likely a WHOLE LOT of people, spent great amounts of energy making sure you will feel fulfilled with these new properties in Rowling's Potter universe. J.K. Rowling could not have done it by herself. She had multiple editors in her writing phases, as well as marketers and other people along the way. For the new play, she has a cowriter, and for the movies there were multiple screenwriters. For all of this, there are numerous other people along the way who helped to make her dream a reality.
Now it's your turn. You should be putting a lot of thought and energy into your decision of where your career is headed and how position yourself for a career change, but you have others to rely on along the way. Find yourself a mentor who can guide you. Surround yourself with friends who can be there for you when you need to voice your concerns or have someone act as a sounding board. Network with people in your new industry to find out what the job is like on a day-to-day basis, and form a new cadre of people who will be able to help get your life and career to the point where you can one day look back on it and remember how magical it was, while being equally as excited about what is to come. A strong network and guidance along the way are keys to success.