5 tips for adjusting to life after missionary service

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(Image courtesy LDS.org Media Library)

When I returned home from a mission, I’ll admit it was hard for me to let go.

For the first year, I struggled, feeling like I had gone from being someone that stood out, making a difference, to just another anonymous face in the crowd. I felt underutilized at times. I felt selfish for focusing so much of my time on myself. I had just spent two years helping and worrying about others and suddenly it was all about me.

In the mission field, I only had to worry about one thing — missionary work. When I returned, I was suddenly overwhelmed thinking about major life decisions, such as where to get my education, what I was going to study and marriage. I also found myself worrying about how the people I had taught on my mission were doing and I frequently replayed in my mind certain experiences I had on my mission.

It was hard for me to move on.

While my trials were partially attributed to my personality, I think some of those issues are universal for returned missionaries.

How do you transition to and get comfortable with post-mission life? Here are some general tips:

1. Get to work.

For 18 months or two years, you have been working hard and seeking results for your labors.

After a mission, it’s good to get a job and start earning money — not just so the you can start becoming financially independent but it’s good to be serving again and earning a paycheck.

2. Find a routine.

As a missionary, there’s a set daily schedule. You wake up at a certain time, you work at a certain time, you eat at a certain time, you go to bed at a certain time. On a mission, you are always planning. After a mission, it’s easy to get away from a schedule and, as a result, frustration can set in. Of course, it’s good to have time to relax and do fun and spontaneous things but it’s also crucial to continue doing those things that carry lasting power into your life, like daily scripture study and daily prayer. Go to the temple as often as you can. Apply what you learned on your mission about setting and accomplishing goals.

3. Participate in sports, recreational activities or productive hobbies.

Returning to activities you enjoyed before a mission can be a good way to get back into the swing of things, such as playing basketball, playing the piano or fishing. But be careful not to fall back into old habits, such as spending excessive time playing video games.

4. Get away.

Going on a little vacation with your family within the first month of coming home could be beneficial. By being alone with family members, you can strengthen your relationships. And a change of scenery can get your mind on new things. For example, a long car trip can provide an opportunity for you to share mission experiences and talk about plans for the future.

5. Talk to and spend time with others that have recently returned home.

It’s good for recently returned missionaries toward gravitate to other recently returned missionaries. You are going through similar experiences and are having similar feelings. To be able to talk to those in your situation is helpful so you remember you’re not alone in trying to make this transition.

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Jeff Call has covered BYU sports since 1993, including the past 16 years for the Deseret News. He, his wife and six sons live in Cedar Hills.

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