As I approach the one-year mark since my official discharge from the Australian Defence Force, I can’t help but reflect on my experiences over this time. I served nearly 11 years, full-time in the Australian Army, with the last six served as a qualified operator with the 2nd Commando Regiment. I completed three Special Operations Task Group (SOTG) deployments to Afghanistan and spent the last two years of my career as an assaulter with our nation’s most elite counterterrorism task force: the Tactical Assault Group (East).

My decision to leave the regiment and the Australian Defence Force (ADF) was made about 18 months prior to my discharge actually taking place. I was so committed and prepared for this to happen that I submitted my discharge paperwork 12 months prior to my actual discharge date. My chain of command didn’t know what to think; a number of them told me that never in their careers had they seen discharge paperwork submitted so far in advance.

To be realistic, I had actually been preparing to leave the military for at least five years. Just to be clear, I did not go to work every day for five years wanting to get out; I loved the job and was extremely content with my chosen profession. What I mean is that for my entire adult life I have been looking at least five years down the road, as this has allowed me to set goals and to put what I need in place to achieve them within that timeframe.

This trait of forecasting has become more refined since I initially joined the ADF in 2004. Army life invariably forces people to think this way; there is absolutely no room for fly-by-night recklessness and haphazard practices, as every aspect of military training is geared toward an operational context.