THE BLOG
05/28/2013 05:59 pm ET Updated Jul 28, 2013

Why Military Women Can Have It All

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Despite the challenges of the military lifestyle, like constantly moving and raising children, there are many women who are courageous enough to pursue their dreams and become a successful, career-driven woman.

Successful military wives don't have to be limited by their husbands' careers. They can still achieve their goals -- even if they have to do it from a military base or relocating from city to city. While this lifestyle presents many challenges, these women are determined to have the life they've always wanted.

Just because military women can have it all doesn't mean it comes easy. In order for them to have their dream career and raise a family, they learn how to multitask and make sacrifices.

Do you want to know the secret to achieving work-life balance? Read on to find out how these inspirational women are pursuing their passions and raising their families -- all while living the military life.

They make family a priority. Many military women center their lives around their family. These women make sure their career contributes to the overall happiness of their families and meets their needs.

When trying to find balance, there will be sacrifices you have to make in your career for your family; however, it doesn't mean you have to give up what you love. It's important to find a satisfying career that allows you to be happy in all aspects of your life -- especially at home with your family.

"My philosophy is family first," says Starlett Henderson, co-founder of the Army Wife Network. "Faith, family, and friends, really. Those are my benchmarks. Those are the areas in my life where I am irreplaceable. Work comes after all that."

"That said," she continued, "it's easy for the lines to become blurred, and for my work to really feel like taking care of my family, my Army family. I would not work in a job that did not somehow serve our nation's military. That's the key to my balance: do what I love and love what I do."

They're flexible. Living the military life can bring many challenges to career-driven women. From moving to different military bases around the world and coping with the deployment of their spouses; achieving a balanced life can be challenging.

Successful military women have mastered the art of flexibility. They understand the necessity of 'rolling with the punches' and sometimes they must plan their career to accommodate their family's needs.

If you want to achieve more balance between your family and your career, be open to change and allow yourself flexibility in your plans.

"Create a support structure on the homefront," says Wendy Poling, founder of MyMilitaryLife.com. "Let go of unrealistic expectations and be kind to yourself. Remember to reach and make friends through command events, church activities and meet your neighbors. It's okay to lean on these people when you are feeling overwhelmed and need to ask for help. You can always return the favor."

They raise their children to be independent. As your children get older, it's important they begin to learn important skills and responsibilities in order to grow into independent people. Mothers who have to care for their children and work while their spouses are deployed must teach their children important skills to help them be independent.

When your children are at a young age, help them make positive decisions and encourage them to be self sufficient. This will help you from being a parent who constantly has to hover over their children.

"Isolation is a real problem that military families face," says Ellie Kay, author the best-selling book for military families called Heroes at Home. "It's important to plug into your support systems on base, volunteer in family programs, and get your kids involved in community sports. All these activities force you to get involved and keep you from the destructive force that isolation breeds in military families."

They stay organized. In order to manage your schedule and make life less hectic, make lists and keep track of everything in a planner or calendar. When balancing your career and family, it's important to create a schedule you can stick with and prioritize your tasks to work as efficiently as possible.

"Balancing work with life is a constant juggle," says Karen Golden, who has been a USMC Spouse for 25 years, from the Military Officers Association of America. "My calendar is king. If it is not written down, it is not happening. Delegation is essential. Children of all ages, mine included, benefit from taking on family/household responsibilities."

She adds: "Maintaining personal connections is essential. I use my commute time to connect with friends or family via Facebook or email. That touch point keeps me grounded. And, 'no' has entered my vocabulary because, when I am spread too thin, I am of little use to my spouse, family, or my job."

They build relationships. You can often find success by collaborating with other people. When you build relationships, you can discover mentors and create connections that can help you in the future.

Make the effort to spend time networking and meeting people in your industry who can help contribute to your success. After all, military women depend greatly on the network of support which surrounds them each day.

"There is no doubt there is a disconnect between the resources that exist for military families and the families themselves. Our greatest challenge as military families is feeling and being connected and informed," says Tara Crooks, co-founder of Army Wife Network. "Networks like Army Wife Network bring people together as a conduit between the resources and information and the families themselves. We already share a common bond and that is what draws us together, but when we can share experiences, resources, and information we become stronger as a whole."

They know their limits. While it's important to set high standards for your career, don't create a goal that pushes you beyond your limits. When you create a goal that seems impossible to reach, it can make you feel defeated and lose satisfaction in your career.

Military women understand they must balance their family and careers, and sometimes they have to make sacrifices to achieve work-life balance. By understanding what your limits are, you can prevent yourself from becoming overwhelmed by your goals.

"I choose to put family first," says Michelle L. Aikman, a mobile active duty military spouse. "It is not always my first response because I have an ever raging urge to be better, learn more, give more, and do more. I want to live out my potential. All of the challenges that come with being a professional and a military spouse have made me stronger, more capable, more driven, and a better person. Yes, I have missed many opportunities, but I will never regret choosing my family first. Success will find me... eventually."

They plan ahead. What is it that you want to achieve in the next six months or even within the next year? Whether it's a goal like implementing more healthy habits into your life or increasing sales for your small-business, create goals that help you plan ahead. When you plan ahead, you will know what you have to accomplish in order to move forward in your life and career.

"Making long-term plans it can be very difficult, but make plans anyway," says Poling. "The important thing is to talk about it with your spouse and decide as a couple. Be willing to compromise. We've had vacation dates change, unpacked from a PCS on our own, dream orders cancelled. In the end, you just pick up from the disappointment and move forward. My experience has led me to believe there is usually an even better adventure on the horizon."

They stick to their habits. The art of success is having consistency throughout your life. It's important to have a routine that contributes to your success. For example, if you work from home, stick to a schedule that allows you to be productive.

Since military spouses often have a whirlwind of commitments and responsibilities, it's important to implement habits in your life that help you stay focused amongst your busy schedule. Whether it's creating time every morning to exercise or dedicating 30 minutes each day to catch up on the latest news and trends in your industry, find a productive habit to implement your life and stick with it.

"Life balance is a pretty tough order with the intensity of war," says Kathie Hightower, co-author of 1001 Things to Love About Military Life. "What is important is staying connected. Women and men alike tap into every available resource to stay as connected as they can while deployed, from reading stories on video prior to leaving for children to watch over and over, to Skyping as often as possible (if it's even possible where the person is deployed), to making sure your child/children have Huggee Miss You Dolls (a camouflage stuffed doll with a plastic sleeve at the face to insert mom or dad's photo), to creative care packages and cards and letters (along with email). The key is learning from other military members and families what works."

Finding success is your personal journey -- and it doesn't happen overnight. Being successful and having it all requires hard work, dedication, and the drive to achieve your goals. Not only should you focus on personal goals, but also it's important to make priorities for your family. By putting your family first and allowing yourself to incorporate flexibility into your career, you will be able to have a successful life like these amazing military women.

How do you think women can apply these ideas in order to have it all?

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