(Last Tuesday, I spoke to someone in the military who purchased 100 copies of Do Over. He gives them out to people leaving the armed forces as a way to help the transition to civilian life. This is going to sound stupid, but I honestly never realized what a huge Do Over moment that was. I’ve never served in the military, so I had a hard time grasping the nuances of what it means to start the next chapter of your life that way. I asked my friend Dave Burlin to write a post about that, as it is something he’s personally experienced. More than that, his mission is to help veterans go from “Discharge to In Charge,” and he gave a TedX talk on that very subject. Here’s Dave on what it’s like for veterans to change careers.)  

5 Things Veterans Should Know About Their Career Do Overs. – By Dave Burlin

As a Marine Corps Veteran I have launched many career do overs, from the leap out of the Marines, to the world of digging ditches in the oil fields of Northeast Oklahoma, to working with “at-risk” high school dropouts in a residential “boot-camp for life” program. Dave Burlin

After 10 years of wearing one uniform or another, I jumped into the wedding industry as a wedding DJ with the goal to change the world one dance floor at a time. Now, I am currently preparing to launch my greatest career do over into the world of entrepreneurship, and Jon Acuff’s book, Do Over, has become a compass for this challenging feat.

Along the way I have found several Veterans on their own paths to success, and I’ve learned that there are 5 things all Veterans should know about their career do over:

1. This could be the most challenging thing you have done.
So many Veterans define bravery as an emotion or action on the battlefield. The bravery it takes to come back into a world that may not understand everything about us will take the same kind of grit that it took for us to sign a blank check in the first place. After all, we all committed to the greatest do over of all when we made the choice to leave our lives and join the service.

2. You are not alone.
Plans change. Life happens. There will be days in transition from service to civilian life where you have no control. Adversity happens and your “jump” will quickly turn into what feels like a “bump.” Know that there are Veterans that have been out longer than you have been alive. Some have been out for months, some have been out for decades, but they have the “cheat codes” to help you along the way. As one of the most fraternal tribes on the planet, where you find one Veteran, you will always find five more. Invest in these relationships, they will be there when you need them the most.

3.You have more skills than you think.
The military forced productive habits into what you do everyday. Showing up on time (or even early) is a skill. Ironing your uniform and being prepared for an inspection is a skill. Providing candid feedback after a training exercise is a skill. Communicating orders to your team from a higher authority is a skill. Never stop learning. Much like the military is ever-changing, you have to know the world around us will continue to change. Embrace the change and continue to learn new skills and invest in your education.

4. Just as plans change, dreams do too.
I remember telling everyone at one point or another, “I am a lifer.” I could see 20+ years in the Marines, retiring as a salty Sergeant Major, and all the life stories that go with it. That dream changed. Your dream may change with the seasons of your do over. Boot camp was a season. Your first duty station was a season. The first deployment? You guessed it, season! You will go through many seasons in your transition, and although it is a bit cliché, “Knowing is half the battle.” Don’t get stuck by thinking a season is forever. It’s not, it’s just a season.

5. Be ready for unexpected opportunities.
The most difficult concept for me to accept in civilian life is that there are people out there that genuinely want to help you. Civilians, veterans, it doesn’t matter. People want to give you money to support an idea before you even have a website. They want to help you advance in your career. They want to connect you to people that will help our dreams come true because you have character. It will be uncomfortable to accept help if you don’t have a true understanding of “why” they want to help. But therein lies the miracle of an opportunity.

In the next few years, more than a million Veterans will be returning home to join over 8 million who have served. I believe that we are the key to building a stronger America. It has been an honor to serve this country, and I am excited to see where we go from here. With no formal education, but a passion for helping people and the willingness to hustle; I would have never imagined I could own my own business and help Veterans’ across the country believe they can do the same.

Jon wrote three words at the end of his book that have stuck with me. The words are “Apparently, I can.” I believe those words about me and I believe them about you.

Today’s guest post was written by Dave Burlin. For more from Dave, follow him on Twitter.