Every event we ever participated in during our time in the military was a planned event. The “Apple Days” festival in the Fall while in Garrison lasted for about 8 hours, but the planning that went into that event took weeks, even months. While on deployment everything was planned. Yes, I understand...no plan survives first contact, but there was a plan going into that contact. And it was because of that plan that we were able to pivot, adapt and overcome. Benjamin Franklin said, “Failing to plan is planning to fail”. It’s clear in our every action as a military that we believed that.
Why, then, do most service members fail to plan for their exit from service?
I think it’s because we are laser-focused on completing the mission. We don’t make time to plan for our own futures because we are working towards accomplishing the mission, much like we’ve been training to do. But the reality is that we MUST plan for the inevitable day that we take off the uniform. It doesn’t matter if you serve for 4 years or 25 years, you will take off the uniform. Very few people make the military their terminal career. We all want to go back home and pursue our passions. In order to do that, we have to have a plan. Because if we don’t plan, we will fail.
I liken it to land navigation.
When you were conducting field training, you were handed a map, compass, pencil and protractor. You were told to take those tools and your own two feet and find points plotted around God’s green earth. Those plots may have been a few hundred yards apart. Maybe they were a couple miles apart. And you had to find them. To the unassuming bystander, that sounds crazy. To you, it was possible.
If you simply stood up, walked around and tried to find the points, you would fail. You would have walked aimlessly without direction and without a purpose. See...when you are only going a few feet, unintentional steps are okay. But as we said, some of these points were miles apart. So one unintentional step over the course of a mile would get you lost and so far away from where you intended to be.
So you didn’t do that. You had a plan. Every step you took was intentional. It was purposeful. You put one foot in front of the other, according to the plan with your eyes set on the goal. Having that plan in place, that azimuth, gave you the confidence that every step you took was intentional, purposeful and driving you towards your point. Your goal.
Taking off the uniform is the same thing. Don’t just take it off, strut around and walk aimlessly hoping that life will figure itself out for you. It won’t. Life is just one giant landscape with opportunities plotted all over just waiting to be discovered. It’s on you to embrace the change, have a plan and find those opportunities! So walk through life with confidence that you will succeed in your endeavors and reach your goals...all according to the plan you set in place.