You May Love a Wild Adventure, but that Doesn’t Mean Your Career Should Be One

Parachute jumper Against Cloudy Sky from Horia Varlan's Flickr feed by CC by 2.0
Parachute jumper Against Cloudy Sky from Horia Varlan's Flickr feed by CC by 2.0
Parachute Jumper Against Cloudy Sky from Horia Varlan’s Flickr feed by CC by 2.0.

Typically, the term “adventurous” is not one of the first words I hear used to describe a career. In fact, it’s not even in the top 100. For people like Felix Baumgartner or Jeb Corliss, sure; but for the rest of us (who aren’t free falling to Earth at 843 miles per hour from a helium balloon dangling in the stratosphere or base jumping in a wingsuit through trees and mountains), definitely not.

Adventurous, yes.  What I want my career to model? Not exactly.

We are military spouses.  Our daily lives are like mini adventures in their own right. We face each day not knowing what to plan for.  At a moment’s notice, factors outside of our control can change our world dramatically. That means we should be expected to embrace unpredictability and volatility in all aspects of our lives, right?

Hardly.

I find that the instability of this lifestyle makes it that much more important for us to embrace and cherish consistency where we can. Yet, too often military spouses equate this ever-changing way of life to a death sentence for any stability—especially in their careers.

I see this manifest itself in a variety of ways:

  • Job hopping
  • Lack of purposeful decision-making
  • Lack of fulfillment
  • Leaving our careers up to chance (aka the military)

If you want a real career—I mean one that you enjoy, that you are fulfilled by and that has progression—you can’t afford to let it up to “chance” (which by the way, just so happens to be one possible definition of adventure).

I am not suggesting you create a flow chart of every possible scenario the military could throw your way to impact your career. That would take forever. Trust me—I’ve attempted it. Even if you did somehow find the time to outline every potential path, it never fails that the one possibility you didn’t think of happens.

It’s not about the minutia. It’s about being so clear on your goal that you always have a direction guiding your everyday decisions. You don’t think Felix just decided on a whim to jump out of a balloon and plummet to Earth or that Jeb didn’t think it necessary to test his wingsuit before his first base jump, do you?

Jeb Corliss, “Grinding the Crack”

They did the hardwork before the big day—but that is the stuff that no one sees. It’s the behind-the-scenes work, but it’s what led to their successes. Just like them, you are going to have to get clear, and I mean crystal clear, on where you are heading and what you hope to accomplish. You are going to have to do the legwork upfront. Then, by knowing your goal, you can begin to guage every single choice you make by whether it gets you closer or further from your destination.

Remember that if we do not take the reins of and create our careers ourselves, the military will do it for us. I don’t know about you, but that is one “adventure” I’m not willing to take.

How are you staying true to your career goals with each military move?

Parachute jumper Against Cloudy Sky from Horia Varlan’s Flickr feed by CC by 2.0

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