Finding Your Identity

Posted on January 29, 2019

This Blog is borne out the support I am providing for the ex-military community; mentoring people in finding themselves in the confusing civilian job market and identifying who they actually are.

On leaving the services, people experience some level of “bereavement”.

Over stating it?  I don’t think so!

There is a loss of the “team” and the sense of belonging; there is a loss of status – whether that is “rank”, role or responsibility based; there is a loss of the uniform and to some extent, there is a loss of “identity”.  Loss creates bereavement, and bereavement needs to be addressed, or it can fester and develop into something more.  Many people address this bereavement as part of their transition process, they do it quite subliminally and find other ways to self-identify, belong and develop.

However, there are some that struggle with this process and so, here, I want to offer some techniques that might support in getting a foothold on who you are in the new environment.

There are different environments in which you live and these can be simply divided in to work, family and social.

Your identity within the family is set and although there are some adjustments to be made – more stability for the family and being able to spend more time together – this is more easily achieved.  Single people will have more issues and need to lean more towards their work and social environments to create some self-identity.

Socially, there are many groups that you can join and develop a network.  Golf and other sports clubs, football teams, pub quiz teams are all readily available on the civilian social scene.  There is a growing social scene of ex-military clubs and groups that can also provide an opportunity to “return to the tribe” enabling the opportunity to indulge in the banter and humour for which the Armed Forces are well known.  Breakfast clubs, drop-in centres, and of course, the Royal British Legions, all offer places to develop a broader social circle.

In work, I would politely suggest, there is a greater difficulty in creating that identity, especially if you get into a role that is below your level of capability; issues can be created in getting back to a role that is fulfilling and provides a sense of self-worth.  Of late, I have mentored a few people that find it difficult to understand what a role title will offer in line with what they are seeking or have circumstances that have them believe that they should address a lower role with a view to “starting again”.  I think that going through a simple exercise provides some direction and enables individuals to better target roles that will provide them with that sense of worth, value, belonging and therefore identity.

Try this and see how it works:  Get a piece of paper and position it landscape.  Draw a line top to bottom dividing the page 2/3 to 1/3… the smaller section to the right.

On the left, start noting all the elements of a role that are important to you in your ideal role.  Use the prompts below and expand where you need.

Salary Range:  This can be as big or as small a range as you wish and based on what you need to live on, or where you see your market value.

Organisation:  Specify the type of company that you would like to work for in relation to size, market space, culture, opportunities for progression etc.

Position:  Middle management?  Senior Management?  No management responsibilities?

Role Activities: the kind of things that you want to do on a day to day basis.

Time Commitment:  Hours working per week, shifts, weekend working etc.

Location Considerations:  International travel, local work only, country wide work?

Internal Interactions:  Who do you see yourself working with?  Describe your ideal work colleagues – Line manager, peers and subordinates where appropriate.  Identify through this if you are looking to lead or develop a team, or if your preference is to work autonomously.

External Interactions:  Do you look to work in partnership with other people from other companies, customer facing role or not?  Describe these interactions and how they feel.

Status Comments:  In this section, identify how this ideal role makes you feel in relation to status and self-worth.  This can be the hardest section for some but getting a few words down can help you recognise the level at which you are pitching.

Once you have completed the left-hand side of the form, use it as you visit job sites or look through adverts in the paper.  Read through the adverts and look into the roles listed and see how closely those match your needs.  As you identify roles that are close to fulfilling your ideal job, then list them on the right, along with the organisation name.  As this list grows, then commonalities will start to become evident.

If nothing else, then going through the exercise will help to cement in your mind what kind of role in what type of organisation is more befitting your needs to feel a sense of worth and belonging.

Let us know how you get on.


At what point should you start the Resettlement Process?

  • More than 2 years before you depart? (40%, 6 Votes)
  • 2 years before departure? (33%, 5 Votes)
  • Around 6 months before last day? (13%, 2 Votes)
  • 12 Months prior to departure? (13%, 2 Votes)

Total Voters: 15

Loading ... Loading ...