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As military families prepare for transition from military life to civilian life, there are 3 things that become especially critical in their preparation.
Change – Would you agree, military families have mastered the art of change? Yes, of course. We make change look easy. We are the families that pack up our house every 2-3 years and venture out to a new exciting location, making it look like a walk in the park. How about when our Military Member heads out on yet another deployment, leaving us to carry on family business as usual. The family is expected to “carry on” and never miss a step with the kids and school or family finances. Well, at least that’s what it looks like to everyone on the outside of our world. The truth is change is tough for anyone, especially military families. It was never easy for my husband or me to pack up for deployment and prepare mentally to leave our family behind. Deployments were especially difficult because that change involved coming face to face with the possibility of death of a loved one. And to be honest, I really don’t know many military families who actually enjoy packing up their homes every few years for the next move – even if Transportation does most of the work, it’s still quite a chore.
But change is the one constant in military life. So during transition, change is to be expected and anticipated. The change experienced in transition will have similarities to other changes experienced in military life. You may find yourself moving the family again, you may even find yourself changing jobs once again, and the kids may find themselves changing schools during the school year yet again. We found our family experiencing all those changes and more. We soon realized that our transition journey would take us through a very unique change experience and the manner in which transition effected each family member would also be unique.
As the Service Member, I was dealing with the emotional transition of leaving behind a life I had come accustom to and was very comfortable operating in. My husband was dealing with the challenge of completing his educational goals. He also experienced the struggle to find employment after not working for 2 years while following me around as I finished up my military career. My daughter found herself changing schools and having to say goodbye to some really good friends. But we embraced each change head on as a family and made it through successfully.
Communication – Communication was an important element in my military career. I found that my Soldiers were more productive when they were informed of upcoming projects and operations, allowing time for them to plan accordingly. That same level of communication was just as important within our military family. The more effective the communication, the more informed each member was within our family unit. I discovered each family member was better equipped to deal with change the more informed they were. This discovery encouraged us to communicate even more within our family.
I recall many detailed conversations with my family when decision points arose in my military career. When I was a single mother serving in the Army, the conversation was with my young son at the level he was able to understand and at the level of detail he needed to know. I recall when we were preparing to depart from an overseas assignment and head back to mainland United States – I was heading to a career advancing military school and he was finishing up the school year and a very successful little league baseball season. That conversation was much more detailed than the one we had two years prior when we were heading into the overseas assignment. The latter conversation included my son a few years older, me at a significant cross road in my military career, and us working together to make some major family decisions as we moved forward.
When I married my husband, the conversations were first between him and me and then we included our young daughter, to the level she was able to understand. I always found that clear, detailed communication gave me confidence knowing that my loved ones were well informed of upcoming changes. It also allowed us as a family to create a great environment to express ourselves, whether that included expressing fear or excitement.
I found in transition that this same level of detail and clarity in communication is needed to help the family understand what is about to occur not only in the military members life but in the family unit as a whole. Depending on your situation, communication may include extended family, health care providers or other important people in your life because their being informed is critical to a successful transition for you and your family.
Considering – In the military, we receive something called Consideration of Others (CO2) training – this used to be Equal Opportunity or EO training. Over the years I’ve seen this training transform into what is now known as CO2 and can be described as a philosophy; it is the awareness, actions and responsibilities of the individual Soldier to be sensitive to and have regard for the feelings and needs of others. As I watched this training evolve over the years, I have to admit I was very pleased with the ability of Army leaders to keep training relevant and current to the needs of our changing military landscape.
In a family, this same level of consideration is necessary and key in creating a healthy family environment. I fully believe consideration is crucial in expressing to each family member that they are loved, valued and an important element of the family unit.
As a military member my first “squad” was my family and my #1 “battle buddy” was my spouse. My family has always been the source of my motivation to succeed and always at the forefront of my mind as I considered different paths for my military career. I remember when I was in Basic Training, I shared with my Drill Sergeant (DS) that I joined the Army in order to give my son a better life and that I wanted to be a good example to him as his parent. My DS periodically reminded me to think of my son as my motivation to push myself throughout training, especially when training was tough. I did just that and found the intestinal fortitude to carry on, oftentimes picturing my son’s face was enough to find the inner strength to push through.
So as I entered into transition from military life to civilian life I had to consider my family. I had to take into account their individual dreams and goals as well as our family goals we had set for life after the military. I knew firsthand how much my family sacrificed so I could finish out my military career. My family moved with me 4 times in the last 6 years of my military career. I knew they had been through a lot and I wanted to consider their wants and needs as we prepared for our family’s transition.
We went into transition vowing to remain flexible, fully understanding that transition would be a process for each family member. We continually evaluated and took into consideration the needs of each family member. This allowed us to have a clear plan for our family’s transition, detailed with goals for each member and the family as a whole.
Keep these 3 things in mind as you prepare for your military transition and you are destined for a successful transition, not only for you as a Service Member but for your family as a whole.
Certified Life Coach
Specializing in helping transitioning Military Members / Veterans and their families
Homepage: www.lilaholley.com / Twitter: @coachlila / Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lila.holley
Let’s examine the role of the sports coach again. It wasn’t the coach’s responsibility to teach the college or professional athletes how to play the sport; they already came to the coach with that knowledge – at least the basic fundamentals. Many times the same holds true with life coaching – you may already know how to process your emotions, communicate, and actively listen. But as your Battle Buddy and life coach I would help you fine tune those skills, in some instances relearn those skills. This is in order to help you successfully make the transition from military life to civilian life without wrecking your life. In both the athletes’ example and your example, a basic foundation is needed for the coaching experience to be successful.
You see, transitions are a natural occurrence in life. Think about it, you transitioned from a baby to a child; from a child to an adult; from a civilian to a Service Member and now from a Military member to a Civilian. With each transition you should have learned something new about yourself – good, bad, or indifferent. Truth is lessons had to be learned in order to make each transition. You have to willing to learn some new lessons in order for your coaching experience to be successful.
A life coach is trained to listen to your words, observe your actions, and become aware of the way you currently interpret the world around you. Because of this training a life coach comes equipped to help you reach your goals. Bottom line: If you are committed to your life coaching experience working for your situation, then and only then will life coaching work.
BIG THANKS TO MY AWESOME DAUGHTER
Like many of you, I deployed several times to foreign lands, leaving behind my spouse, children, and extended family. Thanks to the military I received some incredible training that prepared me for the increased responsibilities that come with leading troops, promotions, and of course, combat.
We all know for the most part what a coach is. The first example that likely comes to mind may be one of a coach in sports. I think of those awesome coaches that bought us some of the world’s greatest sports figures in the areas of basketball, baseball, football and track and field. Those coaches took those players from mediocre to success, in some cases extraordinary success. That is exactly what a life coach does.
The official definition of Life Coaching is the process of assessing thoughts and emotions, observing behavior and language, setting specific goals and discerning hidden saboteurs. Effective life coaching should also be supportive of the client in making a plan of action and then follow it to reach the desired outcomes, to move the client from their former place to one of success.
A Life Coach who specializes in transitioning military members would be likened to a Battle Buddy of sorts. I have been through similar experiences and can relate to many of the challenges you may face as you embark upon your transition to civilian life. I will be that Battle Buddy to help you work through your feelings associated with transitioning from the military, keeping you focused on your goals and plan of action allowing for a smooth transition. Your Battle Buddy, that person who is going to hold you accountable, reassure you that you can make it through transition because I have gone before you and I know it is achievable.
My reading this morning was about right thinking. This was a very good message because our thoughts, like our words have so much power. They have the ability to change the course of our life let alone our day, mood or attitude. I know for a fact that a person’s perception becomes their reality. Many times we draw the wrong conclusion based on our thoughts. For example, I shared with my husband one time that when he says to me “we need to talk” I automatically assume somet…hing is wrong. My thinking reverts back to being a child or teenager when those were the words that preceded punishment or correction in my behavior. He wasn’t aware of this before I shared that with him and always wondered why communication was so difficult – my thinking was all wrong going into the conversation. I’ve had to learn and train myself to think differently since sharing that with him. It’s a continuous process but it has helped improve our communication. Here is an excerpt from my morning reading that is sure to bless you: We must stop merely waiting for something good to happen and take action to ensure that something good will happen.
I am truly amazed when I consider the fact that we have the ability to make ourselves happy or sad by what we choose to think about. The Bible says we must be satisfied with the consequences of our words, whether they are good or evil (see Proverbs 18:20).
Our words begin with our thoughts, so the same principle that applies to our mouths also applies to our minds. We need to be satisfied with the consequences of our thoughts because they hold the power of life and death. I would add that they hold the power of contentment and discontent, of joy and sadness.
Trust in Him God has given us the ability to make choices about so many things in life, including our thoughts, and we must be responsible to make those choices carefully. Trust Him to help you choose positive thoughts and to think on purpose.
Have a Positive Thinking Tuesday! Be blessed beautiful people!