Season 3 Episode 113: Getting Intentional with Shirley Baez

Retiring from the United States Army in 2021, Shirley Baez went directly from the military to her first job. Like many veterans, Shirley left her first role for a better fit within a year after retiring.  Learning from her own transition, Shirley encourages servicemembers to take time for introspection and learn how to shift from a military mindset to one that focuses on the future. She is passionate about advocating for veteran entrepreneurship and volunteers with Action Zone, an organization that is dedicated to helping veterans, military spouses and dependents build their own businesses.

Shirley was intentional about her transition. She leveraged the resources available to her, including networking with other veterans who recently transitioned from the military. From her conversations, she was able to predict future roadblocks and plan accordingly. She admits that networking was a challenge at first but recognized the importance of networking to her transition success. As an introvert, Shirley knew she needed to step out of her comfort zone and put herself first when it came time to managing her next career. The more informational interviews she conducted, the more natural it became.

One of the programs that kick-started her transition was the Leader Transition Institute. Their 3-day intensive program helped Shirley transition her mindset from “we” to “me.” Shirley also utilized Four Block, The COMMIT Foundation and The Honor Foundation for transition guidance and mentorship.

For many servicemembers, the focus of the military transition is the J-O-B, and rightfully so. However, the changes that need to occur within your own mindset to transition successfully is an equally important focus. Take time for reflection. Shirley journaled, listened to podcasts and created a vision board. The introspective journey is a path that a person must walk alone – no one else will have your same needs or goals. However, there are other parts of the transition that will be much more difficult if you walk them alone. She reached out to mentors, both veterans and civilians, and used them for advice and sounding boards.

Shirley admits that it was out of fear that she took the first job that was offered to her. The job wasn’t a good fit, and she fell into a depression. Watching out for her best career interests, Shirley left the position. Only after leaving did she realize the importance of taking the time to decompress after leaving the military lifestyle. By leveraging the network that she had deliberately built, she quickly found a better role that played into her strengths.

As a volunteer for Action Zone, Shirley assists veterans who are interested in taking the business ownership path. As she considers starting her own future business, Shirley is also going through the program. For anyone considering entrepreneurship, seek outside perspectives and coaching. The transition is all about mindset. You can choose to be fearful or look at it as an opportunity or challenge.

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