When I was in the military this phrase, “Grow where you are planted” meant to do my best at my job. And to be honest it was pretty easy advice to follow. My career was ahead of me, I had a goal to strive for, awards to attain and the next rank to reach. And even when I was sent on my deployment to Afghanistan with the Army, I was doing exciting work. I had a purpose. I had a mission. Everything I needed to succeed was given to me by the military.
And then I left.
I left my military career as an Air Force Civil Engineer to be a stay at home mom and military spouse. I thought I was giving up a hard life. I thought being a military spouse would be easy. I would have free time. I would have time to spend with friends. I would enjoy following my husband’s career.
My ideas and the reality of military spouse life didn’t add up. Instead, I lost my purpose for my life. Those goals and dreams that I had for the military were now replaced by taking care of my newborn son and realizing my life would now take a second seat to every choice the military made for our family.
I thought it would be easy. I thought I could take the lessons I learned and apply them to military life. But being left behind to manage the household doesn’t always give you room to grow where you are planted. And it is hard to grow and then start all over again.
One thing military spouse life has that military members don’t face is starting over again. Yes, they move too, of course, but they don’t start from scratch like their counterpart. They go to work, meet co-workers, and are given a mission.
Military spouses are often left behind to unpack boxes, get life set up for the kids and search for a new career if they haven’t gotten tired of starting over again. No one hands you a mission. If you want to grow where you are planted, you have to do the research and find out how you can get connected with your new assignment. All while knowing there is a ticking time clock until the military will uproot your lives again and you will have to start all over again.
So how can you grow where you are planted as a military spouse. Here are some things I have taken with me from the military and applied it to military life as a spouse.
Make SMART Goals
I think everyone should have personal goals. Sometimes personal goals and professional goals are woven together. But other times you really just need to focus on you. Whatever your goals are they need to be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely) goals.
Build Your Community
The hardest part of moving is building your community again. It isn’t easy to get out of the house and meet new people. I have let the fear of the unknown stop me from going to meet people far too often. But the only way to meet people is to get out there and meet people. And I promise it is worth the effort to make friends, even if they leave quicker than you would like sometimes.
Always learn from your experiences
One of the most important parts of growing where you are planted is that some days it isn’t going to be fun. Most often to grow it will likely be painful and cause you to stretch past what makes you comfortable. There is a saying nothing good in life is easy. And I think this relates back to growing. Good and bad experiences can help you grow.
What do you do to grow where you are planted?
Amanda is a military spouse and veteran who served in the Air Force for six years as a Civil Engineer including a deployment to Afghanistan. She traded in her combat boots for a diaper bag to stay home with her two boys and follow her husband’s military career. Her blog Airman to Mom incorporates stories from her past military life and how she views life through her unique life experiences of both a veteran and military spouse. She recently launched a podcast sharing the stories of Women of the Military.
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