Hello! This is my first entry on my new site and even though my mission is to help business owners, particularly female entrepreneurs, in the health and wellness industry to grow their businesses on social media…I wanted to start by sharing something a little more personal: my experience as a military wife, the lessons I have learned and how they have helped to shape the way I see business. Here are five lessons I’ve learned as a military wife…and how they apply to business.
You Have to Be Flexible. Shortly after we married, my husband learned that his squadron was being transferred overseas…and that, for the time, I would not be allowed to go. While it was a major hit for us, changes like this happen all the time for military families. Troops are deployed unexpectedly, squadrons are transferred and deployments are shifted or extended. I think one of my biggest struggles is that I am a type-A personality who likes to be in control. The military and I have definitely been at odds on more than one occasion because of its unwillingness to comply with what I need. However, the same is true in business, isn’t it? Deals don’t come through as expected. Deadlines aren’t met. Changes have to be made. In business, just as in military life, you have to learn to be flexible and take things as they come. You have to accept that things aren’t always going to fall into place like you would prefer. All you can do is do the best you can with what you’re given. Remember: It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.
You Must Have a Support Group. Military wives are notorious for trying to go it alone. After all, our spouses are out risking their lives for our country. The least we can do is hold everything together on the home front. So what do we do? We try to be superwoman. We try to do it all. However, over time, cracks start to form and the next thing you know you’re home alone, rocking back and forth on the sofa in a catatonic state (okay, a slight exaggeration, but you get the point). My bigger point is: we all need help. We all need a support system. This is absolutely true in business. No matter how good you are at what you do, there is always going to be someone better (unless you’re someone like Donald Trump or Bill Gates, maybe). There are always going to be new ideas in marketing and new ideas in sales and the only way you can grow and become stronger as an individual and better within your business is to have a solid support group who you can go to for enrichment. Some take classes, others use Meet Up groups and others attend networking meetings. It is imperative, however, that whatever you choose, you have an outlet of SOME KIND for support and the exchange of ideas.
You Must Be Prepared to Make Sacrifices. You know, no matter how prepared you are when you marry into the military there is no way to comprehend what it’s like to go through long periods of separation (I’m facing a six month deployment and cannot comprehend what it must be like for families coping with year-long deployments). But I did know, going in, that I would be making sacrifices…and isn’t the same true in business? I have a few friends who own their own small businesses and I can remember on more than one occasion waking up at 6:00 in the morning and seeing posts as recently as an hour before where one of those friends was up, working still. The other works regularly on nights and weekends. Fortunately for them, they put in the long hours because they love what they do. But, at the same time, you can’t tell me that they haven’t, at times, wanted to be out having fun on a Saturday night instead of at home working to meet deadlines. In the end, however, the pleasure of owning and running your own business and the long-term paybacks of that business should outweigh the sacrifice.
You Have to Give Yourself a Break Sometimes. This one was a hard one for me to learn. You know how I said that we all try to be superwoman, but that eventually that level of energy and dedication just can’t last? Well, often when you realize you just can’t do it anymore, you experience a feeling of defeat. On those occasions, it’s important to tell yourself: it is okay. Likewise, it’s really easy to beat ourselves up when things don’t go according to plan in our business. It’s easy to push ourselves past the point of exhaustion and think we have to keep going (well maybe not easy, but it’s easy to think that’s what we SHOULD do). But it’s extremely important to sometimes just give ourselves a break. Allow yourself a day off to do something you love and leave the smart phone behind. Spend the day lying in bed watching movies and just “be.” Chances are you’ll go back the next day more rested and rejuvenated and ready to work 10x harder than before.
You Must Create balance. I think this is a tough one for anyone. We want to be the best we can be at our jobs but, as a military wife, there are times you have to be both mom and dad (this goes back to my superwoman point), which means you don’t have the luxury of throwing all your energy into your work. While I haven’t yet had kids, I have had to reassess the balance in my life. Learning when to unplug from email and social media and focus on my friends and family (and not isolate myself in between the unplugging and reconnecting process), can be challenging. It’s really important for business owners to take a long hard look at their calendars and really assess how they’re spending their time. Are you constantly on your phone in the evening? Are you checking your phone 10x a day during family vacations? Ask yourself how you spend your time during the day, from the moment you open your eyes till the time you go to bed. Assess how you are managing your time and make sure you have the right work/life balance so that your family doesn’t have to sacrifice on the quality time they spend with you.
The most important thing to remember is that no one is perfect and no business is always going to run smoothly. All you can do is take each challenge as it comes. To quote Zig Ziglar, “Failure is an event, not a person. Yesterday ended last night.” Each day presents the chance for a fresh start and another new opportunity.