We put a lot of emphasis on the new year and the possibility it holds. For some people, the pressure of the year ahead actually becomes a littler overwhelming. For others, it’s the best time of the year and they are pumped to see what the days ahead hold. I get why there are two extremes: a new year represents a fresh start and they can be a little scary, especially if you want to make big changes in your life. Think about starting a new job or moving to a different town or striking out on your own for the first time. All of these fresh starts are scary, partially because they don’t happen all that often. But for a military spouse, it’s a completely different story!
Military spouses are the kings and queens of fresh starts. Don’t like where you’re living/what you’re doing/who you’re around? Don’t worry, the military will change all of that. Love your town/job/neighbors? Don’t worry, the military will change that too. Fresh starts happen all the time in the military and not just on January 1st! Whether it’s a PCS, a deployment or just run-of-the-mill move across town, the military forces entire families to get used to fresh starts, even if they’re not entirely ready.
As you get ready for whatever fresh start the year holds for you, there’s a lot you can learn from military spouses. We’ve been there, done that and got the t-shirt from just about every type of fresh start you can imagine.
Lesson #1: Make a plan.
You do not move an entire family, household and life all the way across the country (more than once) without learning the importance of a plan. To make the most of your fresh start, you need to know what you want to happen. Whether you write a detailed action plan complete with goals and deadlines or have a few ideas floating around in your head, put some thought into what you want your year to look like. It can be whatever you want it to be, so dream big!
Lesson #2: Roll with the punches.
Do you have your plan all figured out? Are you happy with it? Excited about it? Good. Now throw it away and roll with the punches. Military spouses roll with punch after ever-loving punch. You can plan until you’re blue in the face, but there’s no way to be ready for your husband to deploy right after a cross-country PCS when you have no job, no friends and no furniture. Life is going to throw at lot of unknown at you and when you make a fresh start, you need to accept a lot of fresh unknowns.
Lesson #3: Be open to new things.
Sometimes the best things come from the most unexpected places. That’s why military spouses know it’s important to be open to new things when you are facing a fresh start. Having a fresh start means you can take advantage of new things, even if the old you would have avoided them. Eat the weird food, read the new book, try the different hobby. When you’re more adventurous, you are like a sponge soaking up every last bit of that fresh start.
Lesson #4: Feel free to make changes, but stay true to yourself.
Any time you have the opportunity to start over in any aspect of life, it can be tempting to try and change everything you’ve ever remotely disliked about yourself all at once. But it’s not a good idea! Even if your changes are good ones, too much at once can totally burn you out. Instead of losing 20 pounds, running a marathon, starting a new job, buying a new house, and learning to play the guitar all at the same time, maybe focus on one or two things. Most of these can be stressful and challenging on their own, let alone when you’re trying to complete them all at once. Break each one into tiny steps, for instance, if you decide to focus on finding a new job, you can start by looking for a resume service that can help make sure yours is going to stand out against your competitors. Then, only after you’ve applied, interviewed, got the job, and have started to feel settled in the role, do you want to begin the next goal you have set yourself.
A single change can also be bad if it goes against who you truly are; forcing something on yourself just because you think you should be doing it doesn’t actually do you any good. Military spouses have the ability to be anyone they want each time they PCS, but going against their true nature never works out well (or lasts very long). Make changes in order to become the best version of yourself, not a different version of yourself.
Whether it’s the start of a new job, a cross country move or even just a new week, we all have many opportunities to begin again. Military spouses get a lot of practice with making fresh starts and know that there are ways to make the most of them. How have you made the most of your fresh start?