Good Goals for Army Officers: 12 Things to Strive For

Today, I want to share some “good goals” for Army Officers.  These are some basic things that all Army Officers should strive to do throughout their military career.  They are listed in no particular order.  Enjoy.

1.  Deploy to a Combat Zone

I truly believe that every Army Officer should make it a goal to deploy to a combat zone at least once in their career.  There are several benefits of doing so.  First and foremost, you earn a combat patch.  That gives you some added respect with your peers.  More importantly, you gain a new “perspective” when you deploy.  Deploying to Kosovo and Iraq gave me a greater appreciation for the freedoms I have here in America.  In addition, it gives you added experience and I personally believe it makes you a better leader as well.

2.  Read Every Day

This might sound crazy to some non-readers, but I think it’s important to feed your brain every day.  After all, you eat every day to feed your body.  Why not spend some time and feed your brain?  Develop a reading program for yourself and stick with it.  Make a commitment to read for at least fifteen to twenty minutes a day, every day.  Read books about military history, communication, leadership, tactics, conflict resolution, etc. Read biographies of successful military leaders from the past.  The wisdom you will gain from reading books is priceless!  If you read just one book a month, every month for a 20-year career, you would read 240 books!

3. Complete Company Command

Whether you plan on doing a short stint or a long career in the Army, stay in long enough at least to do Company Command. This will more than likely be the pinnacle and highlight of your military career anyway.  The experience will be rewarding and it will also be a great addition to your military and civilian resume.

4. Read the Constitution

I think every Army Officer you should make it a goal to read the U.S. Constitution at least once every year.  Never forget WHY you serve.  After all, you don’t serve the politicians or Generals.  You serve U.S. Citizens!  You serve your country!  Reading the Constitution will also be a great reminder of your personal freedoms, and what you are responsible to protect.

5. Study U.S. and Military History

Another good goal for Army Officers is to study U.S. history and military history.  Study the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, World Wars 1 and 2, the Korean War, Vietnam War, etc.  Study the lessons learned and mistakes made.  Learn why the wars happened, what role the military had, what mistakes were made, and what Armies did right.  Study the tactics of previous wars.  Learn everything you can about history.

6. Mentor Others

Make it a priority, a high priority, to share your expertise and mentor others.  Find an officer or enlisted person inside (or outside) of your chain of command and mentor them.  For your direct reports, make sure that you counsel them formally and that you set a good example.  Never refrain from helping, teaching or sharing what you know with others.

7. Leave Every Duty Position Better Than You Found It

Make it a point to leave every duty position better than you find out.  Create SOPs and systems that highlight your best practices and procedures.  Make the organization better.  Improve the look and feel of the unit, section, building or office.  When you leave the duty position, it should be running smoother and more efficiently than it was when you took over.

8. Max the APFT

As an officer you should strive to max the APFT.  At a minimum, work on improving your APFT score every test, until you get to the point where you can max it.  Show your Soldiers what the standard is by leading by example.

9. Travel and Meet New People

Any time you PCS, attend a school, or move, expose yourself to new people and new cultures.  Learn what you can about different people and cultures.  Try different foods.  Go to different museums.  Hang out with different types of people.  Ideally, you want to become a well rounded person.  Be open minded!

10. Get Your Master’s Degree

This one tip is optional, but it’s still a good goal to shoot for.  If you plan on making a career out of the military you should definitely pursue a Master’s Degree.  This helps separate yourself from your peers and stand out in the promotion boards.  It also increases your knowledge and education.

11. Volunteer

Make it a point to volunteer in your local community. Volunteer with an organization you are passionate about. Spend an hour or two each week to share your time and wisdom.  Volunteering makes you feels good.  It also helps other people.  When you give back, good things happen to you.

12.  Never Put Your Family on the Back Burner

My final tip, or goal for Army Officers, is to never put your family on the back burner.  Yes, you will have to make some temporary family sacrifices as you advance your career.  Yes, you will have deployments and some time away from your family.  That comes with the job.  But don’t be so focused on your own career that you forget about your loved ones and neglect them.  Kids grow up fast.  Do the little things with your spouse to “stay in love.”  The last thing you want to do is have a great career, but lose your family in the process.  Family is the most important thing in life.

Final Thoughts

There you have it folks.  These are 12 of my best goals for Army Officers.  I know these might not be the goals you were expecting, but I think all of these things are important for your personal development and career success.  What do you think?  Leave a comment below to share your thoughts.

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12 thoughts on “Good Goals for Army Officers: 12 Things to Strive For”

  1. This is a great list of things every Army Officer should strive for. Hopefully their Mothers do not read your first one, as they may be out to get you–LOL. No Mother wants their child in combat, but I do agree that this should be a goal. I also am very happy that you added to not put their family on the back burner. This happens all too often both in the military and in civilian life.

    Your family is what holds you together. As an Officer, you need to make quality time for them too.

    This was a great post Chuck. I hope it helps many who have gained officer status in the United States Army.

  2. Another great list. I love setting goals and always having something to reach for– I always have a diverse book list going, personally. Two goals for Army Officers that really stood out to me are Deploy to a Combat Zone and Read the Constitution once a year. The second one I just hadn’t thought of but is so crucial. The first is hard for me. As the spouse of an NCO who would have to volunteer to go to a combat zone, that’s an especially hard one for me to swallow. But you’re right. That’s part of the job and the game that I knew going into the marriage and he knew when he enlisted. And it truly does help in a military career so much. It’s one of those necessary sacrifices. Sometimes people forget how hard things are on military spouses/families too and that we make our own sacrifices and contributions– sometimes we forget that, too.

  3. Chuck, I would also encourage officers to put together a tool kit of their lessons learned and an electronic library of items that helped me through a specific leadership or staff position. I found that these tools always come in handy in future assignments and provide a way of mentoring, teaching, and coaching others.

    1. Mark,

      What a wonderful tip. I agree that officers should keep an AAR for every job they have, including deployments, annual training, etc. All of these experiences, if analyzed and reflected on, can be a valuable career enhancer. One of the best things to do would be to keep a journal and update it every day. You could even turn this in to your memoirs at some point. Thanks for the comment.

      Chuck

  4. You make some really good points about goals for Army Officers, but when talking about military families, I think it’s important to note that they should have responsibilities, if not goals, themselves, that help the military leader achieve his or her goals. If you want to be a career officer, you need to make sure your family understands how they need to behave to support that goal. They need to realize that they are contributing to family goals that are often different from the families of civilian friends they might have.

  5. These are excellent goals to aid Army officers in their mental, physical, psychological, and relationship-based development. Mental development comes from consistently reading about the history of the United States and its military, as well as possibly getting a Master’s degree. Physical development comes from striving for a max score on the APFT. Psychological development will occur after deployment, which will test your mental toughness and give you a new perspective of the world. Finally, working to keep your family close to your heart even when separated from them for long periods of time will develop your relationship skills. All great goals for officers to strive for!

  6. I keep seeing you mention reading throughout the site – and I definitely agree with its importance. Additionally, I find it appalling that more officers never get their masters! With the GI Bill, it doesn’t make sense not to. Volunteering is also great – you can learn a lot from it, as I did doing a week down in New Orleans. It’s an experience I’ll never forget.

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