Normally, I write the articles posted here well in advance; however, today is different. I wanted to catch the raw emotion of my first official day of Air Force retirement. I waited until I took the kids to school and then settled into my day before I sat down to write this. Now, I want to share some lessons learned on day 1.

I have been on terminal leave and permissive days since the end of June and so I am now used to not wearing the uniform. That was the easiest part. What is not easy…not being in the day-to-day routines and conversations with my team. That is something I am not sure I will ever get over and don’t see how any other relationship in the workforce could replace that.

3 things I have learned:

Your schedule will fill itself. My wife and I have had a long list of things that needed done around the house and for the family and I was afraid I would run out of tasks before I found a job. I have completed almost all of the original list and my new list is even longer! There is always something that needs to be done at home just like at work. Manage your schedule or your schedule will manage you. Block out time on your calendar for the important tasks and leave time for the other things that need to be done to keep the machine running.

Hobbies don’t get more attention. I thought I would have all the time in the world to work out and explore my hobbies deeper. There is more time, but reality does not let you work on your hobbies all day long. We still have to focus on our priorities. Just like on the base where we want to be more involved in other organizations like Top 3 or Rising 6, but realize the job needs to be done too. Even though, we want to pursue these things to make us better and help those around us; work needs to be completed.

You do get to reinvent yourself. Unless you are making a lateral move into the civilian world, you get to start over. What I want to do, does not directly correlate with my career field, but does feed off of the soft skills I have cultivated. This has tempted me to pursue things that would not be beneficial to my end goal of being a stable father-figure in my children’s life. When I keep my finish line in mind, it has helped steer me to two choices: a company that seems to allow for a stable home and the potential of writing/teaching articles, books and etc full time.

I have made many mistakes in my life, but one thing I am proud of is that I was able to plan ahead for this. I had many plans to be exact. I had planned a financial path to ensure flexibility during this time; a path to better myself for a future employer and a clearly defined finish line I am moving towards. There are still a lot of unknowns in the coming weeks and months, but what I have learned is that there are great people in the service who want us to succeed and they will pour what they know into you and when day 1 of retirement appears for you, you get to choose what lessons you learn.

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