In 2010 I was a successful project manager on the path to being a “Big Wig” in an exponentially growing tech company.
I had a path to climb. 9 to 5. Healthcare. Vacation days. Then I met Evie, and within six months of starting our life together, I quit my cushy job to go on a ‘grand adventure’ to Georgia. I had the choice, she didn’t.
In Georgia, I managed to weasel my way into teaching at a local university in the business school due to my education and experience. After a year and a half of hustle, and worrying about how many courses I would get to teach each semester, I was offered a full-time gig. So there I was, 28 years old and a full-time college professor.
Career two in the bag. Stability. Ease. Flow.
Then there was the elephant in the room. We knew that at some point or another, our time at our station in Georgia would come to an end. Either she’d have to leave the military or I’d have to quit career number 2.
The PCS notice came, almost a year earlier than we thought it would. Her commitment wasn’t over. So I closed another career door and made the move with her. Just like that, I was back at square one. Hustle didn’t matter, that job offer didn’t matter, I had to move to a new city and start a new hustle.
Before Evie and I married, I spoke with dozens of spouses–men, women, gay, straight– I asked them what careers a military spouse should consider. Stay at home mom was the single most common. The choir kept saying “You both want kids. So have some kids now, get them out of the way early, and then when she retires at the tender age of 42 and you’ll be just rounding 40, you can have your dream career.”
That wasn’t going to work. We knew that. I wasn’t ready for ‘kids’ and our income wasn’t quite what we wanted it to be to have them.
Some other spouses suggested I start teaching, get a teaching certification. Others suggested nursing. Others said ‘find a remote job.’ Turns out that is easier said than done.
I have a secret for you. There is a way out. There is a way to build a career and be a military spouse. And it doesn’t require crazy amounts of training, or any specialized skills that take years to learn.
Whatever skills you have now, with some honing, can be leveraged online. Don’t believe me? Take a look at the landscape. Entrepreneurship is the new 9 to 5. Check out articles here, here, and here. Google entrepreneurship. Google “starting an online business”. You’ll see rather quickly that everyone seems to be hyping the awesome potential of being an entrepreneur.
People are jumping ship and creating their own dreams online everyday. Baristas are starting blogs about coffee culture, business owners are starting business academies that teach others how to replicate what they have done, marketing executives are starting online consulting companies, crafters are opening wildly successful etsy shops.
Entrepreneurship can be your way out of the career hopping doldrums that often come with being a military spouse.
When I started thinking about creating a mobile, flexible business I had zero ideas. Nada. Then I realized I had skills. I listed all of them on a piece of paper, and started to see a theme. I kept coming back to knowing a lot about communication, especially in business. I looked at online businesses and saw that there were business coaches out there with nada business experience other than coaching.
So, I got a coaching education. And since I have been able to leverage my decade worth of business and marketing knowledge AND utilize the teaching skills I had practiced while being a professor, I launched my business in September of 2013. I teach online courses in healthy living, repurpose some of my university curriculum too, and coach creative folks on helping them leverage THEIR skills into a business and life they love.
The result? I am now my own boss, I work my own hours and I escaped the grind. When my wife comes home I can spend time with her despite her incredibly demanding bizarre hours (well…most days). I am responsible for my own domain. And in the meantime, I also get to change some lives.
And you know what? The next time we PCS I won’t be terrified about ‘where the next job will come from’ or ‘will I find a job?’ No matter where we go, my job comes with me. And the best part is that I get to continue being a military wife, and my wife gets to continue being a military officer. (Pending separation )
There is freedom in entrepreneurship. Don’t believe me? Give it a try. And if you don’t know where to start, start reading blogs of business owners. Join a mastermind group. Or think about applying for the military/spouse scholarship for Marie Forleo’s Bschool, she offers spots just for people like us–Spouses with lives that could be dramatically altered by entrepreneurship.
Makenna Johnston is a business and creativity coach/consultant and spends most of her days writing, coaching, and scheming creative entrepreneurs from her office in her bungalow. She is married to a Captain in the US Air Force, and resides in San Antonio, TX sharing an off-base bungalow with four other non-human creatures. Someday, Makenna will happily embrace being a stay at home mother, but for now she’s thrilled that she found her dream career, and all it took was a laptop and some hustle. You can find out more about her over thisaways.