Consider Your Second Career

For those in the military, the reality is: that you will either die young or you will have a second career. I encourage you now to consider the second possibility.

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Consider Your Second Career

By: Brian O’Day

Military service is for the young.

I’ve heard people in the military who are 31 years old refer to themselves as old. That’s ridiculous… well, it would be ridiculous almost anywhere else, but not in the military. The military is for the young.

That means that the reality is: that you will either die young or you will have a second career. I encourage you now to consider the second possibility.

Consider Appropriately

Your current job as a military service member is really important, so please focus on it and take your current job with the seriousness it warrants. My family’s safety and freedom depend on it. Take it seriously.

When I say consider your second career, I mean in the down times. When you’re about to turn on that football game, trying to find the end of YouTube, or playing video games until your eyes start to blur, instead take time to consider your second career. Or perhaps you are in a time of transition: you’re on post-deployment leave or you’re between duty stations. Use these times to consider your next career.

The most likely person to read this article is the person who is very near to their transition, but let me encourage all: start early.

Consider Your Next Career

A few questions to prompt your thinking:

  • What am I most passionate about?
  • What am I good at?
  • What have my experiences prepared me for?
  • What would be the most valuable use of my skills, personality, and gifts to help others?

Then take some tangible steps with what you’ve been thinking about:

  • Make a list of the options you’re considering.
  • Talk to trusted friends and mentors about what they think about your initial list. Is there anything you need to add? Are there any that you need to cross off?
  • Talk to a transition specialist. The military services are creating networks of people to help your transition: Marine for Life Network and Soldier for Life are the two I’m aware of currently, but both of these will help service members in other branches as well.
  • Seek out opportunities to do things now that will prepare you for that next career. As you move forward in a few of the things on your list, clarity will typically come.

The last thing I encourage you to do is set a reminder on your calendar to review this list at least once per year- perhaps on your birthday, the anniversary of when you joined the service, or the Christmas/New Year holiday season. If you are less than a year from your transition, you should look at it at least once per month. Whichever the time interval, keep your list handy and review it regularly.

This article originally appeared on, the personal blog of the Praetorian Project Executive Director, Brian O’Day.

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