September means Fall is in the air. Depending on where you live, leaves are turning, the breeze is football-season crisp, and sweaters are ready to come out of the closet. Even here in tropical Hawaii, the stores are stocking up on Fall clothing, and I am beginning to see a few boots scattered among the flip-flops. Perhaps seasons are as much a state of mind as they are weather patterns and dates on a calendar.
In much the same way, I think of careers as a lifetime of seasons. Especially for military spouses who grapple with the constant change of military life, careers are often not a traditional progression of continuous work, culminating in retirement. Our careers ebb and flow with military and family life, blossoming at times, while sometimes going into long periods of hibernation. Many of the spouses I work with as a coach find comfort in this metaphor of seasons, because it offers them a different model for career success. It is not an all-or-nothing achievement, but a patchwork quilt that is crafted with care and creativity, one season at a time.
Here are 5 tips for navigating the seasons of your career:
- Take a look at what’s most important during this season of your life. Is this the time to focus on career, be home with kids, or try something you’ve never done before? Your priorities may change with the seasons. Recognize what season you are in now and plan accordingly.
- Look at your own life calendar and try to gauge how long you think this season will last. If this is the season to stay home, how long do you want to plan on that? If you want to go back to school, what is the timeline? If you are a typical military family that moves every few years, planning for this chunk of time can be an ideal season to work with.
- Be aware of what’s going on in the environment around you. How well do your plans fit the season you find yourself in? Are you still wearing your winter boots when everyone else has donned bikinis? For example, if you find yourself in a location with few professional jobs, you may find it’s the right time to take a hiatus or go back to school. It’s not only about your plans, but also about what fits your life right now.
- Include your spouse in the journey. Just like planning your summer vacation, talk with your spouse about your career plans for the season. What do you need from them to make your plans work? What support are they willing and able to give you? Make sure you are both on the same page before embarking on the next phase of your adventure.
- Once you’ve made your plans for the season, jump in and enjoy it. Don’t spend your precious time looking back with regrets or what-ifs. The good news is that the next season is right around the corner and anything is possible.
Michelle offers individual and group coaching for career-oriented military spouses. Contact her for your complimentary session.