Whoever you were before you went into the military doesn’t exist anymore, the military transforms all of us one way or another. Our military experiences impact us for the rest of our lives whether we like it or not. The military mindset is both an advantage and a disadvantage, it’s about how we utilize our experiences. We tend to focus on the negative aspects of our military careers like PTSD and overlook the advantages we have. We can’t stay in the military forever and eventually we find ourselves back in the sensitive civilian world with different norms, language, and SOP’s. The military ingrained habits into us over the years, some we should maintain, and a few are better life behind.
Get Up Early
There aren’t wasted mornings in the military, Uncle Sam doesn’t let you sleep in. Military units often accomplish more before noon than the rest of the world does all day. The morning is the most important part of the day, that’s when your brain works the best and when we can do the most productive work. Owning the morning means winning the day.
Exercise Every Day
The military life is far from sedentary, we’re on our feet all day and on the move.
We get out of the military into a world that sits more than it stands and spends more time indoors than out. The military can ruin working out for us because doing things like hours of jumping jacks and flutter kicks aren’t fun. Find some enjoyment in exercise, do things you like and make it a habit to break a sweat each day, one way or another.
Look The Part
People maybe shouldn’t judge you by your appearance, but they will. How you present yourself matters in the military and we take a painstaking, at times annoying approach to how we look. You don’t have to be that anal about your appearance anymore or spend time measuring your ribbons, but you can still stand tall and take pride in your appearance. When you look better, you feel better.
Cursing Every Third Word
I’m not sure if in the history of the US military, a brief has ever been done without someone in the room swearing. Don’t shock your coworkers by casually throwing around the F word. You’re in a different world now, it requires a new vernacular and the casual way everyone in the military curses is frowned upon in polite society.
Using Dark Humor
The military and dark humor go hand in hand since before you and I were serving. Dark humor is sometimes how we handle the things we see and do. Nothing is off-limits as far as jokes in the military goes, it’s a thick-skinned world. But there is a long list of veterans who have gotten themselves in hot water saying things that can be easily taken out of context in the civilian world, don’t add yourself to the list. Things that get a smile on the military shooting range will get you fired in the civilian breakroom.
Yes Sir, Yes Ma’am, Roger That
We tend to be overly respectful in our civilian workplaces, we don’t need to stand up at attention when our superiors are talking to us anymore. Military language belongs in the military, we don’t want to be seen as cyborgs in the workplace. We view respect as more important than civilians do but a lot of people in today’s world prefer to be more casual. First names are even okay to throw around now and then. A lot of bosses don’t want to hear “Roger that sir, or affirmative ma’am.”
My first week in college I had a professor ask me to stay after class, he said he appreciated my enthusiasm, but I would need to tone down my language. I asked him what he was talking about, and he replied, “You probably said the F word five times today in class.” I didn’t even realize it; I was so used to cursing all the time in the military. The military is more than a job, it’s a way of life. Most people think of habits as unhealthy things like smoking or biting your fingernails, but good habits create success as much as bad habits create issues. Healthy routines are smart decisions repeated and our productive military habits can really help us out. On the other hand, there are things from the military that don’t translate well to polite society. Our military personas belong in the military, and we have to evolve a bit
when we get out. The military culture is hard to shake, most civilians already think all veterans are crazy. We don’t need to prove them right.
What military habit was hardest for you to break?
As always- let valor not fail.