As military spouses, we learned how to be flexible with our own lives. That means everything in it, including our careers. We adjust, aim, fire and hope for the best. I’m going to be honest here and say that it was an extreme challenge to answer the “what the [bleep] am I going to do now?” question, but I did it!
Now, as we’re ironing out our personal paths, let’s not forget about our loving spouses, who have their very own demanding careers too!
It’s a juggling act to make two careers work together cohesively. Add the military into the mix and you feel like you’re acting out a scene of Mission Impossible. Don’t get discouraged no matter what stage of the military game you are in! If you and your spouse have a down and dirty dialogue, it will set you two up for mutual success.
My husband and I have been navigating our career paths together for the last 5 years. We don’t think we have all the gory details down pat. Instead, we found something that works for us and that’s all that really matters.
This is the week in NextGen MilSpouse’s You Got This: 52 Challenges to Make 2016 Your Bitch we urge you to sit down with your spouse to get a good career partnership going, which would only help the two of you in the long-term.
Week 6 Challenge: Couples Career Chat
Challenge Details: Grab your spouse and spend 1 to 2 hours discussing your career goals. Share ways you can help each other reach those goals and write down a vision plan with you both in mind. Use the printable NextGen MilSpouse Couples Career Worksheet to jot down your thoughts, so you can start mapping out your career plans as a family.
Your Deadline: February 15
Bonus points if you post a photo of your and your honey werkin’ through your career goals together on Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #2016IsMyBitch.
While you’re filling out the worksheet, consider these 5 key points that have helped my husband and I see eye-to-eye in our career goals.
It’s OK if you don’t know what you want.
When my husband and I started dating, he thought he would get out of the military. He was worried about the uncertainty that decision would bring to him and to us. The No. 1 thing I wanted to make sure he knew was I was there for him no matter his decision. We had a solid plan going at the time, then he came to a realization…he actually wanted to continue serving, indefinitely (gulp).
Joking aside, we all should think about our careers as something fluid and ever changing. Our desires can shift from time to time and we have to account for it.
Also, the military force changes as well, so there is uncertainty there again. I wanted to also stress that the same goes for military spouses too. Don’t think of yourself as in stone or that you’re limited in anything that you do.
It’s OK to not know what you want to be when you grow up because it’s never too late.
Keep the conversation going and going and going…
After you’ve completed the Couples Career Chat Worksheet, make sure you take time to re-evaluate where you are in your goals at benchmark times.
The beginning of the year is a natural place to start the talk because of pay adjustments, resolutions, etc., but it’s important to also call out other points in your careers that might bring change. For example, mid-year promotions, new business ventures or the start of a class, etc.
Keep the lines of communication open because your spouse is one of your biggest supporters.
You CAN plan long term.
The military has a crude sense of humor because of the amount of unexpected changes they throw our way.
We’ve experienced or heard them all.
I’m talking about the times orders get cut when you finally find a job you love or a duty station might not be forgiving to your spouse.
It can frustrate the best of us and be discouraging to think about long-term plans. Whatever you do, don’t let it break you!
When Korea happened, I was freaking out on what to do in my career that I almost exploded (I suffer from Type-A syndrome). But, we talked through it and I realized that I could at least have a plan of action.
Piece together what you can and the rest will land in its place.
Be the masters of compromise.
Despite feeling like the third-wheel between your spouse and the military, there are ways to compromise. I can’t begin to tell you how insane I was when I had to leave my job. It was a big blow to me.
After my own pity party, I had to remind myself that the life my husband and I are going to have is what I actually want. Also, we have options. I do have the ability to have my own business and take it wherever the Army sends us. There are companies that are military-friendly that will allow for teleworking and much more. Being proactive with each other and finding compromise is fulfilling in itself!
Don’t forget to acknowledge success no matter how small.
Aside from the givens like pay raises or promotions, there are little feats in between that shouldn’t be left out. My spouse has professional development classes to fulfill and I have projects on my plate.
When you complete something important to you, celebrate together.
It’s a wonderful way to engage each other in your career journey.