Life without orders is like staring into the abyss -- of choices. We all know finding a new groove is essential to success after the military, but which habits should die-hard, and which should you begrudgingly hang onto?


While it may seem like pulling a complete 180 is you "sticking it to the man," he actually gave you a few good pointers.

1. Cursing – kick it

Swearing like a sailor may be the language of choice across all branches of the military, but average America is not ready to wade through the sea of f-bombs to catch your intended meaning. They also, sadly, don't see the value in violent bluntness or the off-the-cuff nickname you would love to metaphorically slap them with.

While it would be abso-bleeping-lutely great if everyone could just cipher through like the rest of us, one slip up from the old….mouth and you can kiss that job or promotion goodbye.

2. Stay training- for something that matters – stick with it 

The military is always training to achieve a specific goal or purpose. Your skills are constantly being sharpened, forcing you to become better than the day before. The discipline of living within a constant training cycle is a pace that throws many veterans for a loop after service.

As a civilian, you can pick what to train for, but the key to connecting who you are now to what you were before, could be remaining diligent in your training. Learn to cook like a chef or get a black belt; just do it with a clear date to make the cut.

3. Wake up and grind – stick with it

We're melding two habits into one here – keeping up with PT and waking up early. There are clearly more hours in the day and zero chances for your pants to stop fitting if you keep with the military way of working out.

No one loves frosty morning runs, but no one hates the endorphins high that you get before breakfast, either. Take comfort, and a feeling of camaraderie in the fact that you're in the best company before dawn, powering through PT like a warrior.

4. Living paycheck to paycheck – kick it 

While there are many things to complain about in terms of military pay, there is one thing – a reliable paycheck, to count on. It would be great to believe that anyone past PFC would have a solid grasp on finances, that's not the case.

Getting smart about not just how you're spending, but what you actually need in terms of salary to support your lifestyle, is a requirement for success. Civilian life doesn't come with BAS, BAH, and plenty of other little perks you don't realize you have.

Take a hard look at your Leave and Earnings Statement well before you get out. If it looks like the grid of confusion, stroll yourself into one of the many free financial programs on post or online open to the military community.

5. Contingency plans – stick with it

No one takes over a compound without a plan b, so why tackle an entire second career without one? If your squad leader didn't drill it into your head hard enough, they're important, and you must be prepared to activate the next on the list when or if things go south.

6. Waiting for orders – kick it 

Every day that you served, orders were waiting for you. The simplicity of a highly scheduled life is difficult to replicate, and after a short vacation from it turns out to be something most veterans miss.

Luckily, the military taught you what to do. Taking initiative in the absence of orders is battlefield common sense. Creating the mission (see above) and executing a series of orders, which, if followed, will achieve success, is how you make it one day at a time.