The Importance of Transition Goals, Timelines, and Deadlines

Setting Military Transition GoalsBy Jeffrey Phillipy

One important step in starting your military transition is goal setting. Many people have dreams and aspirations which they call mistakenly call goals. A goal is measurable, with a defined timeline and ending.

Planning and goal setting are keys to ensure success in anything you do. Proper planning gives you the ability to assess when you are off track and to get back on the path to achieving your goals. The effort you put into planning your transition will directly affect your future career success and quality of life. Here are some tips and techniques to set and achieve your goals for post-military life.


Begin by assessing the time you have until retirement. For our purposes, let’s say you have two years. This will allow you to set the framework for your plan and help you establish the timelines for your short, mid, and long term goals. Once you define and categorize your goals, you can break them down further into micro goals.

One point to consider when starting a transition plan is: “go slow to go fast.” Set deadlines for your milestones and carve out time for researching and studying how to complete each task. Time for thought and reflection in the beginning stages will help you build momentum and move faster as you reach your long term goals.

Short Term Goals

With two years in front of you, I would recommend using the first year for your short term goals. If you think a full year is long for short term goals, consider the importance of this phase. You are using your short term goals to build the foundation for your future. You will also be working your normal duties and handling family obligations in combination with these tasks. The year will allow you to put the proper focus into the beginning phase of a successful transition.

Short term goals should consist of exercises to figure out what you are good at and what you really want to do after your transition. During this phase you also want to conduct your skills assessments and discover your strengths and weaknesses. Other tasks include managing your social media presence and deciding how to best brand yourself in preparation for your career change and civilian life. Use any format you are comfortable with such as Microsoft Word or Excel, a calendar, or just a sheet of paper to put your short term goals on a realistic time line.

On this time line you will place milestones and decision points throughout the next 12 months. Define dates for each task you need to complete. If you do not set deadlines, there are no forcing functions to create urgency for you to complete your goals. If you are able to complete the tasks at a faster pace, that is fine, but ensure you are allowing enough time to make each task achievable without shortcuts.

With other obligations and general procrastination caused by the uncertainty of change, you might consider breaking your short term goals down further. One method to create more achievable goals is to place micro goals in your timeline. Micro goals are monthly goals that keep you on pace to complete your short term goals on time. Breaking goals down into smaller increments assists you in laying out the actual plan to ensure you are creating goals which are within your grasp.

If you are not a good planner, make weekly goals to create a habit of working toward your transition. Honestly, the best method I found is to set aside 20 minutes each day dedicated to working on your transition. First, this will keep you motivated because you will notice progress each week. Also, you will not burn out or feel overwhelmed because you are cutting the task into bite size pieces, making the process less complex.

Mid-Term Goals

After the first year you will be ready to begin chipping away at mid-term goals. Your mid-term goals can be scheduled for a year as well. This will take you up to your transition date. This phase will consist of building your network and preparing for the culture change you are about to experience.

Plan out conferences and other events you will attend which pertain to your industry. This will give you the opportunity to network among civilian peers already in the industry. You will also learn what is on the horizon for the future of the industry and the jargon used by your civilian counterparts.

Your networking efforts give you an advantage as you write your resume and prepare for interviews to achieve your mid-term goals. Another possibility is to begin a blog or create other web content to represent yourself as an authority in your industry with followers.

Here is a secret for you. If you have a blog or a podcast, you can get press passes to events and conferences allowing you to conduct interviews with people in the industry and post them on your blog. Then email the person and let them know where it’s posted. This will help you build real relationships with people who matter in your industry.

The objective is to build your network before you need a job. Most people are networking when they immediately need a job. You will set yourself apart by really just helping people with what they need. After building these relationships you could literally have people asking you when you are available, rather than you having to ask for a job.

Long Term Goals

Finally, your long term goals will extend the three to five years past your retirement or separation. You will be working on your larger goals as you are leaving the service. The purpose of your long term goals is to decide what you want to be doing five years after transitioning. This will assist you in choosing the right companies to interview with. You will know when you apply whether the company has room for you to grow in your chosen career field. If it doesn’t, you can decide not to waste your time applying and avoid looking for another job three years down the road.

For extra credit you can shift your phases as you complete them. For example, after the first year, you shift your mid-range goals to short term on your plan, and the early stages of your long term goals become mid-term goals. This makes your plan more fluid, and your goals will always seem more achievable.

Constantly planning and assessing your goals will keep you motivated. That motivation will help you keep improving and making progress rather than feeling overwhelmed and losing steam over time. I tell people all the time that it is never too early to begin your transition. The best time to begin was the day you entered the military. The next best time is today. It’s time to Crush Your Transition.

About the Author
Jeffrey Phillipy is the author of the upcoming military transition guide titled “Crush Your Transition.” He is a patriot who believes in serving those who have served. He currently works with transitioning service members, veterans, and their families through his blog at You can see a preview of his upcoming project at

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