Transitioning out of the military can be both exciting and scary. As I made my transition, I was filled with a wide range of emotions: Guilt for leaving my guys. Loneliness of moving into the unknown. Fear because I’d have to get a real job. But also total excitement to finally be done and move to the next chapter of my life.

I learned a lot in the process, and I’d like to share it with you. The hardest thing I struggled with was the age-old question of what I wanted to be when I grew up. I was 38 when I retired and the Army was all I knew. The first thing I did was make a list of things I wouldn’t do, such as sit in a cubicle for 40 hours a week. I like being up, moving around and talking to people, coordinating, etc.

Expectation management was something I possibly learned the hard way. I thought because I was so successful in the Army that I “deserved” to make X dollars. The truth is that yes, you did some great things that transfer over to some tremendous high-paying jobs. But there are only so many jobs that pay, let’s say, six figures; and you’re not the only awesome person out there. Just be honest with yourself.

There’s some excellent news, though. The Army has come a long way over the years and has teams of people dedicated to helping you transition out smoothly. Here’s a short list of things that helped me out personally.