Photo by Mark Solarski on Unsplash
Portable Career: Forethought - Never An Afterthought
The reason I say "think portable" at all times is because you never want your career to be an afterthought.
In other words, don't think of your career AFTER a PCS - after you have moved to your spouse's new duty station. Don't think of your career AFTER you decide to leave a position behind. Don't think of your career AFTER you have children.
Thinking about how to make your portable career should be a 'forethought. You will be much better off if you think of how you can take your career with you "'fore" (before) military life happens.
Planning is key to success in all things, especially your life as a civilian male military spouse. Before things happen and before we take action, we plan. We think about possible outcomes before they come. Even when something unexpected happens, planning allows us to strategize how we will respond ahead of time.
Since a career (long-term) is not a job (short-term), you need to take along look at how you can make your career portable. Again, think "portable" - like a laptop or smartphone. This is important because I want you to see beyond "work from home" opportunities to seeing "work from ANYWHERE" opportunities. Remember that a portable career is one you can take with you wherever you go.
Think "How Am I Going To...?"
If you hink it's impossible, you're stacking obstacles rather than overcoming them. As a problem solver, I'm always looking for solutions and asking myself, "How am I going to...?"
Short answer: Effort over Time. That's nothing new. But problems are added to the current one when I fail to focus the way I think. By asking myself, "How am I going to...?", I narrow my focus to me and the problem at hand (right in front of me) - nothing and no one else.
Look at the (partial) question again. "How?" - This is the solution I am looking for. "Am I" - Flip it! "I AM" - lets me know that it is in my power to solve whatever the problem is as long as I have time and put forth the propper effort. "Going to" - Action to get it done (whatever it is).
The way I think about problems sets me up for success in solving problems.
Define Your Portable Career
When it comes to work, most of what I hear new civilian male military spouses talk about is a job, not a career. the more I listen to them, I hear that they have no idea what they want as a career.
A quick lookup of the word career give you this:
an occupation undertaken for a significant period of a person's life and with opportunities for progress.
I took that and ran with it.
My first occupation as a Windows (operating system) application programmer ended with me getting fired right before my wife got her PCS orders. PERFECT TIMING! (No, seriously, perfect timing!)
See, as a Windows application programmer, I was exposed to a new technology (at the time) and World Wide Web and Internet programming. When I was fired, I decided that my portable caree would be in Information Technology, primarily as a Web Developer, but eventually as a Chief Information Officer.
Over the next 20 years, I continued to build my skills and knowledge as a web developer and broadened my knowledge as an IT Professional with each job - regardless of where it was.
Your Career is Portable Because of You
The quick definition of "career" (above) mentions nothing about location. That definition has no mention of a company either. However, it does mention time and effort.
Looking back, I'm so glad I was "let go" from the position as a Windows application programmer. At the perfect time, with our first PCS move a couple of months away, I learned how to focus my thinking and define my portable career at the same time. Everyday, I asked, "How am I going to...?" And I came up with solutions and my portable career definition.
Over the years, I grew to understand that my career is what it is because of my skills and the way I used time and effort toward developing them. That's why I say your career is portable because of you.
Make Your Portable Career
When I say "career" what do you see in your mind? Some people see a building or an office.
Think"portable" at all times. Make your career portable. Start by thinking "portable" at all times. Your career is not confined to four walls or any location or any company.
What do I see when I say "career"? I see me. I see me in an airport, in Australia, in the Bahamas, on Disney cruises, all over the United States, and at home.
More Career Portability Tips
Be Creative - You can't be afraid to be creative and do the unusual. Being creative is not the same as being original. You don'thave to be original to be creative. Put your spin on something that is already out there. I do this with music and my IT profession.
Build Relationships - A relationship will always get you more than a resume. I still get calls from friends I have made, asking me if I am available for gigs or positions.
Trade work for a network - MachoSpouse.com - I partnered with Chris Pape to give back to civilian male military spouses. Through Chris, I have met a world of people I never would have met on my own.
Partner with People - My IT skills partnered with Chris Pape's ideas, videos and charming outgoing personality gives you MachoSpouse.com.
Ask fo Help - You don't know everything and that's okay. There are people all around you who are willing to give you the help you need right now.
Build Your Skills - Your portable career is tied more to your personal and professional skills. Develop your skills and make sure you have the training, certifications, degrees and licenses that are in demand in growing fields.
More on Career Portability.
All this talk of making your portable career, it is easy to get lost in thinking that your value is tied to all this stuff. You are valuable because of who you are - not because of what you do for a living. Great personal character should never be overlooked. My number-one tip on how to make your portable career: develop your great character.
Leave A Tip!
What's your best tip for a new civilian male military spouse? Let's chat in the comments!
Grace and Peace!
Taurus James is the 2016 Armed Forces Insurance Military Spouse of the Year from Wright Patterson Air Force Base. Taurus is a 20-year civilian male military spouse and stay-at-home-dad. He is also a minister and composer of Moody Instrumental Music. Taurus is a professional IT Consultant and Web Developer, and he built and maintains the Machospouse.com website for free. Find out more about Taurus through his blog:
"Faithwalk Music: Faith, Music and Life of a Moody Instrumental Musician"