5 Things Successful Military Spouses Have in Common (pt 2 of 2)

By Marinelle Reynolds, LCSW

3.      They nurtured strong strategic networks 

Who we surround ourselves with greatly influences us. We soak up the thinking and emotions of our environment, which in turn affects our own thinking, feelings and choices. Who we have closest to us greatly influences our confidence and belief not only in ourselves but in possibilities.

During the interview process it became clear that successful spouses surrounded themselves with key people. Janine Garner, author of It’s Who You Know, argues that a “mutually beneficial and effective network is not about quantity, it’s about quality”. She argues that when you surround yourself with four types of key people it provides you with the series of stepping stones needed for success.

Gina Ramirez, health coach and business owner, states that the best advice that she has for aspiring military spouses is to “get in touch with your passions, get connected with your community and find your tribe. They will help encourage you, motivate you and keep you on track”. Whether intentional or unintentional successful military spouses surrounded themselves with diverse, military and non-military affiliated individuals with these common characteristics.

Those closest to you determine your level of success, so choosing
the right companions as partners in your vision is an important decision.
My advice is to surround yourself with people who will challenge you,
help you grow and inspire you to maximize your potential.
— John C. Maxwell

a.      Promoters – Garner defines Promoters as “having your own personal cheerleading squad”. These individuals are with you through good times and bad. They encourage you to reach towards your dreams, promote you to others, and inspire you to become more.

 b.      Pit Crew – According to Garner, your Pit Crew “keeps you true and on track, they prevent emotions from getting the better of you and support you all the way”. They are the ones that help pick you up when you fall. They help you problem solve barriers and encourage you to keep going.

c.      Teachers – These key people in your network help you develop mastery and knowledge. They challenge your skills and thinking to help you grow. They help you see things from different perspectives and help you to think critically. Garner suggests that the Teachers in your network “challenge you and your thinking because they believe in you”.

d.      Butt kickers – We all need a kick in the pants every now and then. It’s not enough to have a dream. In order to achieve success, we also have to have follow through. According to Garner, Butt Kickers are those people in your life that listen to your dream, push you to do more and hold you accountable.

Ingrid Herrera-Yee, founder of Military Spouse Behavioral Health Clinicians, argues that “having a network of supporters is vital to your success. Your connections will help you navigate the challenging times and connect you to opportunities and potential jobs. Reaching out is key. We’ve all been there”.

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4.      They value education and training

There is strong correlation between educational level and employment. According to the 2017, Bureau of Labor and Statistics, individuals with a high school diploma experienced unemployment rates at almost double the rate of individuals with a college degree. Career and technical education are vital for expanding job opportunities for military spouses.

Military spouses that have successfully navigated their careers had chosen careers that were in high demand. They balanced the financial investment involved in education and training with the potential for earning. And they had chosen career fields with the highest chance of portability. The National Military Family Association calls this the Trifecta. Examples of this are careers in the medical and dental field and careers in information technology.

While having a higher education did not prevent unemployment 100% for military spouses, it did appear to open up more job opportunities in locations where licensure portability or job opportunity was limited.

Crystal Kirschman, owner and Program Director, started an Intensive Outpatient Program and Mental Health Clinic when she moved to an area with limited career opportunities. She points out, “I’ve had many starts and stops in my career. But I focused on the experience. As long as I worked in something related to my field, I took the job and it prepared me and my business for where I am today”.

5.      They have grit

Successful military spouses have the ability to hold steadfast towards their goals. No matter what challenges life throws, they demonstrate courage, determination, and flexibility. Successful military spouses are gritty. Angela Duckworth, Ted Talk speaker and author, defines grit as “passion and perseverance for long-term goals”. 

All of the spouses interviewed showed incredible amounts of grit. They showed courage, passion and perseverance to reach for their goals even if they weren’t sure how it would work out in the end. Tonya Kuranda, a veteran and military spouse, manages a program through The University of Central Missouri that focuses on helping veterans transition out of the military through education.  She explains that throughout her career as an active duty member and now as a spouse she’s experienced multiple moves that interrupted her education. But she continued to focus on her goal and pushed through to earn her Bachelors and is now working towards her Masters.

Successful military spouses are resilient. They show extraordinary amounts of hope, tenacity and creativity in the face of challenges. However, they were also quick to point out that they were not perfect. There were times when they weren’t the greatest example. They admit they did not always handle change with grace but strived to do their best to radically accept the situation. They did not always have confidence and had many doubts along the way but reached out to their support networks. They made mistakes but learned to fail forward and gave themselves grace in the meantime. For some spouses, these characteristics did not come naturally but they were intentional about developing them.

Being a military spouse is hard. There’s a lot that happens in military family life that is out of our span of control. These characteristics are things that we can develop and strengthen. If having a career is important to you, it is possible. It doesn’t have to be one or the other. You and your spouse can both have successful careers.


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Marinelle Reynolds has been featured in NBC News, Bustle and Elite Daily. Over the last 18 years she’s been a clinician and leader in the non-profit, military and corporate worlds. And has been a speaker for organizations like University of California, Berkeley and the United States Air Force.

She is an entrepreneur, Licensed Clinical Social Worker and unshakable optimist who specializes in helping high achievers let go of anxiety and perfectionism. She owns an online private practice that provides services in California, Georgia & Texas.

You can learn more about this military spouse and connect with her here https://eremedycounseling.com/ 

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