When you make the decision to leave the military, you and those around you usually want to know one thing: What’s next?
This seemingly simple question has stumped the best of them. While you may feel plagued by uncertainty as you prepare for and make your transition, be aware that the answers you’re seeking may be closer than you think.
Your ability to determine what comes next starts with YOU. Increasing your self-awareness capacity enables you to discover who you are and recognize what makes you tick. Looking through your self-awareness lenses in your career search will intensify your clarity and allow you to introduce focus and strategy to the process.
There are many contributing factors to self-awareness, but the three that we’ll delve into are: your personality, your values and your motivation.
Your personality is formed by all the qualities and characteristics that lend to making you the distinctive individual that you are. Your understanding of your personality provides you with valuable insight about the career options that you’re innately suited for, those that might be a natural fit for who you are.
At a basic level, part of the personality conversation focuses on whether you’re an introvert, extrovert and the less-discussed ambivert. Characteristics of each personality type include (but are not limited to):
- Draws energy from spending time alone
- Feels drained in a crowd of people
- Prefers not to talk on the phone often
- Is very introspective, reflective, self-aware and observant
- Is a good listener
- Prefers to work alone
- Draws energy from being around others
- Enjoys being in social settings and/or working in groups
- Likes to actively engage in conversation
- Considered to be assertive and expressive
- Exercises a fair mix of introvert and extrovert tendencies depending on the situation
Why does this matter? Well, if you put yourself into a career that’s contradictory to your dominant personality type, it could make for a miserable experience. For instance, if you’re an extrovert who accepts a job where you work alone, you may experience a great deal of job dissatisfaction due to your social inclination and preference to connect with others. On the other hand, if you’re an introvert who works from home, you may be in heaven at work because of your desire to be alone and work without distraction.
If you’re curious about what your personality type is, the options for personality tests are endless, including the well-known Myers-Briggs Type Indicator or DISC Personality Assessment. You can connect with professionals who administer these exams for a fee and will provide you with an in-depth analysis of your results. If, however, you want to get an informal jump-start to learning your personality, search online for “free personality tests” (or similar wording) and start exploring. Experiment with different assessments and notice the similarities and commonalities in your results. Those details will highlight defining characteristics of your unique nature and can assist you in unearthing careers that speak to your needs.
Your background, upbringing and experiences each shape what you believe (your assumptions about the world) and what your think, and those beliefs and thoughts, in turn, influence your values system.
Your values constitute your personal principles and exemplify what you deem is important. Whether you know it or not, everything that you do is dictated by these values, and your career is no exception. In order to make the best decisions for yourself and the direction of your career, it helps to be clear on what your core values are. Being aware of them allows you to identify career opportunities with organizations whose values align with your own and even tailor an effective values statement to incorporate in your resume. This awareness also empowers you to establish your career non-negotiables (the things that you’re not willing to compromise on). Knowing what you will and won’t accept in your career permits you to you narrow down the options instead of settling and later regretting your choice.
What are your top three core values? Being clear about your values is vital to understanding the last piece of the self-awareness puzzle: your motivation.
Have you ever taken the time to think about WHY you do what you do … particularly when it comes to your career? We live in a world where many of us run on auto pilot without giving much thought to our why, and your transition from the military presents you with the rare opportunity to pause and consciously examine what the driving factors are in this next stage of your career.
Getting in touch with what motivates you provides perspective on what excites you and makes you look forward to going to work. You’re also able to determine the things that don’t motivate you and may result in a sense of dread at work.
Motivation generally falls into two categories: intrinsic (motivation from within yourself) and extrinsic (motivation from outside of yourself). Examples of each include:
- Professional development opportunities
Intrinsic motivators tend to highly affect the quality of your work while extrinsic motivators are highly correlated with productivity. Most of us are both intrinsically and extrinsically motivated to some degree, but ultimately there’s usually one dominant driver that colors our respective work experiences and willingness to give our all. Your ability to key into which one has the greatest effect on your work will help you determine which careers may be best for you.
Self-awareness is a huge piece of the “What’s next?” puzzle, so take the necessary time to fully understand who you are so you set yourself up for success in your next position.
Your Challenge: Tap into your personality type, establish your top three core values and know your “why” to gain clarity about what comes next for you. Get started now by taking the Civilian Career FITness Quiz!