Doing What I Love, Loving What I Do

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Tony Valerio
  • 97 Training Squadron
"Choose work you love and you will never have to work a day in your life". -- Confucius

I recently had a LOT of family and friends in town for the 97 TRS Change of Command. The question I usually get (but not this visit) is "So you gonna make a career out of the Air Force?" I have always enjoyed this question, as I have nearly 18 years of service. Realizing that most people don't know this, I always reply, "I'm not sure, but I am going to continue doing this as long as I am enjoying it." The best part of this answer is that it's the truth, and I intend to follow this statement because I love what I do

I use the same philosophy giving career advice to others. I want to find out what you would like to do. If you want the "approved" solution to what your career should look like, go look at your functional's website. Few people's careers look like the pyramid, most have some resemblance, but there is no longer a single solution to having a successful career (if you measure success by rank). I have found that people work harder when they enjoy what they do. Therefore, I try to find out what makes the person seeking advice happy and what their goals are. I have seen many Commanders tell people the job they wanted would kill that person's career. Remember: ultimately, it is your career.

Look realistically about that dream job near the beach, the ski area, or your family. It may not help get you promoted, but if you are happy and working hard, you will succeed (and THAT is what gets you promoted) and you will make the Air Force better as well. The most important part of the equation is YOU. Weigh success and failure on your terms. Each job/assignment has positives and negatives. Maximize these positives. Looking back at some of my assignments, most people didn't go to Grand Forks for the location nor the Pentagon for the bountiful free time, but I made the most out of each. There were a lot of my peers who got out of the Air Force and went to the airlines, primarily for the money; not all of them enjoy their jobs. Money can buy a lot of things but it cannot buy happiness.

I encourage you to build your dream sheet with you in mind. I have talked to too many people that wanted a job and it wasn't on their list. Give your functional the opportunity to make you happy, it can't happen if you don't ask (unless you happen to get non-vol'd to your dream assignment). The Air Force is full of wonderful opportunities; look for the one that is right for you. Make the most of every chance you get.

Find your happy place. Whatever you do, flourish!