How to Control What You Can’t Control In Transition

(This is post #4 in an ongoing series of articles on career transition for military officers & NCOs.)

Avoiding the common in situations out of your control.

There are two general categories of transition. The parts you directly control and those which involve other people, decisions and circumstances outside of your control.

For convenience, I have referred to non-controllables as Part B, which this post is about. The categories you control are included in Part A (read post on topic). Situations in this category operate more step-by-step in a clean, orderly progression.

Many other steps and situations are equally important in successful transition. However, they are outside of your control and non linear. Meaning they are more dynamic and driven by relationships, circumstances and developments.

Movement in these situations proceeds as a series of starts, stops and steps sideways. This includes times where you have to “hurry up and wait for” something to happen, which is always frustrating.

Examples of situations in this category would be figuring out a path to get started on in your civilian career or conducting a job search. Dynamic parts of your career progression and finding a job will ebb and flow, stall and dead-end. Often, it seems, as though they’re going nowhere.

These types of situations are usually governed by someone else’s rules, regulations, jobs and/or agendas.

When you don’t have control the overall task is to keep the general trend-line moving along a positive plane. There are plenty of common things you can to do that everyone does. Below are some less common, yet effective, ways to keep things on track:

– Think step back, rather than setback. Everyone knows it is best to avoid setbacks, but when faced with an actual setback, or the possibility of one, few in transition actual practice the habit of stepping back. It seems counter-intuitive but doing so when it’s called for will actually allow you to move ahead.

– Be proactive in reactive settings. Providing new information by checking in when necessary, giving more perspective when needed and offering updates to facilitate solving a problem can help. Being proactive often puts an end to a back-and-forth process. It’s not quite a tried and true, but it will mostly keep things on the right track.

– Revisit, don’t repeat. You will often have to go back and revisit steps but it’s key that you don’t repeat any. Too many repeats has the effect of starting all over. Whereas revisiting is like picking up where you left off.

These suggestions will help keep you focused forward on positive outcomes. As such, they will help you control what you can’t and move ahead with a successful career transition.

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