I am a military spouse, but I also served in the Air Force for six years. I was a military spouse then too, but life was a little bit different. I had many lessons learned from military life. I still sometimes feel like I am in a strange bubble. A military spouse who knows too much about how the military operates but is also learning new things as I experience military life from the other side. The less glamorous side. The military spouse and mom side.
Here are some lessons learned from military life that have transferred over nicely to military spouse and mom life.
Lessons Learned from Military Life
1. To be Flexible
Flexibility is the key to Airpower is a corny saying the Air Force has. And we always would nod our head and maybe chuckle a little, but we knew it was true. Maybe we should change it to Flexibility is the key to Mom Power? Or maybe Flexibility is the key to Military Spouse life? Either would work well.
Military life throws us a lot of curve-balls. Knowing that ‘the plan is the plan’ until something new happens is a good way to be able to adapt to the constant changes military life brings. This requires us not to get our hearts set really on anything. It always can change. So bring on the flexibility.
2. The Ability to Adapt to Life Changes
This one ties into the last one. Life is going to change. The military may send your spouse on a deployment or for an extended period of training. You are going to move every few years. Military life means change will happen. You need to have the ability to adapt to life changes. The first step is probably learning to grieve. You can learn more about that right here.
3. Building Friends Fast
Military life can get pretty lonely. And just when you feel settled and have friends you learn it is time to move again. Making friends and building a community is an important part of military spouse life. Surprisingly I wrote about that too. Get my free resource guide on making friend fast here.
4. How to Not Get Attached to One Plan
There are a lot of good opportunities in the military, but they often come with limited spots and many applicants. So maybe you put in for a dream job or training, but you don’t get it. Life moves on, you make a new plan. It is hard to get attached to a plan when you know it might not ever happen.
5. How to let go
I sometimes wish things would stay in the same for longer than just a few moments. But life happens and things change. My kids are getting older and I have to let go of the baby years as they turn into children.
The military required me to let go of some of the stuff I had planned before I suddenly found out I would spend the next year of my life dealing with a deployment. Learning to let go is important. You can move on to the next thing easier if you don’t keep holding on to the part of your life that won’t ever be again.
6. How to Stay Connected
When I was in the Air Force many of the people I worked with on various projects were not actually located at the same base I was. It was important to stay in communication through email and teleconferences. And then when we were able to have a meeting in person we felt like we already knew each other. This has been an important tool to keep since moving requires me to stay in contact with old friends and sometimes even become friends with people before I arrive.
7. What Sacrifice Means
The military requires you to sacrifice. And often that sacrifice isn’t what you expect. You have a plan and the military will throw you a curve-ball and you have to adjust. Overall sacrifice is hard, but often times in the end when I look back the hard times make the good times that much better.
Sacrifice hasn’t stopped just because I am not in the military anymore. In a way, military spouses have to sacrifice more because the next place you move will be based on your spouse and not you. And when training or deployments come, it means I have to cancel or come up with a workaround. The military gets preference on my husband’s time sometimes.
8. When to Lead and When to Follow
The thing military life teaches you quickly is that we can’t all be the leader, but someone needs to be a leader. Learning when to lead and when to follow is something military life teaches you. Mom life requires many times when you have to be a leader, but there are also times when you need to follow. Learning to find the balance between leading and following is important.
9. A Willingness to Try New Things
The military often required me to do things outside my comfort zone. Looking back there were things I would have never done that in the end I actually enjoyed. Learning to try new things is an important part of mom life. Especially if you are a mom of boys. Being able to be willing to try the new activity your child is interested in is a valuable lesson.
What have you learned from your life experiences? Maybe you served in the military and can share a lesson learned from military life. But military life isn’t the only place you can learn things. How has life experiences helped you?