There are a number of reasons why we work. First, and foremost, many of us work to pay our bills, to ensure that our families have roofs over their heads, and to make sure that there is food in our bellies. Other people work because they find roles in which they are fulfilled and validated. Sometimes, people wish to work and are not in a position to find meaningful work, so even though they want to work, it makes more sense for them to stay home. When I came to Okinawa, I fell into the last category. Now don’t get me wrong; I am blessed beyond measure. My husband has a stable, secure job in which his paycheck covers all of our family’s expenses, so I am not forced to work to feed our family. I have been given the gift of time-freedom so that I can explore and to figure out what I want to do with my time.
When we first moved to Okinawa, I worked my thriving network marketing business. It was fun. It was fulfilling. It made money. It was flexible, and it met all of my needs. However, communicating with my team stateside was more difficult than I had anticipated. Taking care of my clients was daunting with the time difference, and when my husband assumed a particular leadership role, I made the decision to not actively work my business. It was a tough decision, and I still wonder if it was the right one.
Recently, I went back to work in a more traditional capacity. I became a Facilitator for the Department of Labor, and I assist service members as they are transitioning out of active duty service into the civilian work-space. The work is challenging and fulfilling. It is part-time, which gives me flexibility, and I happen to make a little money, which is another blessing.
After I began working, I realized that the true blessing behind the work could be that it will allow me some insight into the civilian work-space as we make plans for life after the military. For the past 24+ years, my husband has been serving his country, and in that time, I have found random work based on our duty stations (where he is told that he will work). I never really considered what I wanted to do with my own career. I never asked myself what I wanted to do because I never really thought that I could act on it. I would simply go where my husband’s orders sent us, and I would look for meaningful work based on the location. I settled, and over and over I got lucky. I found a number of jobs in a number of industries that I enjoyed, and I met some amazing people along the way.
We moved up and down the east coast. We moved back and forth across the US. We eventually moved over-seas, and at each duty station, I found work that was good enough to keep me happy and fulfilled during our time at each place. That all held true until we moved to Okinawa. It took me a while to find work that I enjoy doing, and as much as I love it, I am not sure that I will be doing it for the rest of my professional life. The question will become: What do I really want to do?
As I help service members with their job search, I have begun asking myself: How should I conduct my own job search? Before asking that question, I have to figure out what I really want to do when I grow up. Once I figure those things out, I can ask myself: How can I best support my husband in conducting his job search?
My blog isn’t going to become a job-searching, life-searching blog, but from time-to-time, I may start including things that I am doing for us to prepare for our next step in life.
What am I doing now?
Right now, I am beginning to network on LinkedIn. I spruced up my Profile, and I have started expanding my network. I have begun reaching out to other transitioning military people so that I can see what steps they are doing as they make their transition. I have begun connecting with recruiters and people in talent acquisition. I have also begun following companies that may have roles that are interesting or a good match for our potential career paths. The combination of helping service members with their networking while doing my own networking seems like a great use of my time, AND I happen to love networking. It’s a WIN-WIN!
I don’t know if I am excited or nervous about life after the military. I have loved the military life-style. It has given me the opportunity to have adventures and to meet people that I never would have dreamed of. For now, I think that I am more nervous than excited, but with some preparation, I will become more and more excited for our future post-military life. We have over a year before my service-member retires, so I have time to prepare, and the gift of time is always the best gift.