Self-Improvement Secret Weapon: The Five-Year Plan

Military spouses must frequently make personal sacrifices in support of their service members. But an outdated presumption persists that spousal support and personal pursuits are mutually exclusive concepts. So, what’s the secret weapon for making your own dreams come true, too? A five-year plan can do the trick!

Abraham Lincoln once said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the ax.” A five-year plan allows you to think strategically about your long-term goals and map out the steps that you need to take along the way. Planning helps you sharpen your focus so that executing the process is a breeze – even when you’re on the move. Seeing the steps to reach your dreams on paper can make it all feel more possible. If you have a plan already, dust it off and update it!

How To Make a Five-Year Plan:

  • Identify your big dreams and goals.
  • Research how to make them happen.
  • Break them down into little steps.
  • Tackle one item at a time.

Start by brainstorming. Here are three personal development categories to get you started on your five-year plan:


Have you ever been blindsided by an interviewer asking you about your goals for the next few years? Although it’s a pretty common interview question, it can catch you off guard if you haven’t given it some thought. If you have your five-year plan in mind, you’ll be ready to share your ambitions with potential employers. Plus, this can open you up to new opportunities down the road.

In an interview recently, I was asked about my five-year plan. I shared that I was working on a particular certification and hoped that, in five years, I would have enough experience logged to upgrade my certification to a higher level. I was hired for the original position, but I was also offered a second title and the opportunity to gain experience in that field. Dream big and speak up about what you’re willing to work for!

To map out your career goals, consider the professional path of a peer you admire or research what qualifications are necessary for your dream job. Bonus: You can talk to a Spouse Education and Career Opportunities career coach about your next professional step.

Education, Training and Licensing

Education can be especially daunting because there are so many avenues to take, but it is one of the best ways to set yourself up to accomplish your dreams. Start by figuring out what subject you’d like to pursue. Then investigate what schools offer flexible learning options so that your plan stays on track no matter where you move. You can also consider licenses or certifications that could make you a more competitive candidate for your dream job.

Want help figuring out what education plan works best with your five-year plan? Check out SECO. You can take assessments to identify your strengths, learn more about scholarships and research how schooling fits in with the career that you want. Plus, you can check what education plans lead to careers that move with you.

Health, Wellness and Relationships

It’s no secret that the military lifestyle can be stressful. A five-year plan should include less-tangible goals, too. Philosopher Marcus Aurelius once said, “Life is not merely being alive, but being well.” Your health, wellness and relationships are just as important as any other item in your five-year plan.

Do you want to build more relationships with people in your community? Strengthen your marriage? Adopt a child? Pay off debt? Become a stronger runner? Reach a free health and wellness coach or a personal finance counselor to get started.

Finally, it’s important to remember your big goals but approach those in digestible steps. Prioritize your personal goals and stay resilient with a plan that works with you and the many uncertainties of military life. As they say, making small steps in the right direction can turn out to be the biggest step of your life.

Check out SECO for info on Career and Education.

Check out Military OneSource for info on health and wellness, personal finance and more.


You Might Be a Military Kid If…

It is the Month of the Military Child and there is so much to celebrate! I have two military kiddos to be thankful for and marvel at this month. How amazing it is to recognize these kids for how much they put up with and how resilient they are! Military kids have singular experiences that set them apart in various ways from civilian kids. In the end they are all kids, but it’s fun to appreciate how military life brings common ground to kids all through the military in different services, stationed all throughout the world. Let’s look at 10 unique things that set these military brats apart!

You might be a MilKid if…

  1. You don’t know how to the answer the question, “Where are you from?”
  2. You play with PCS stickers and have them all over your furniture.
  3. You know more acronyms than the average adult.
  4. You guess where people were stationed by their license plate.
  5. You have unit badges, pins or coins hidden away in your room.
  6. Santa’s never left your presents in the same place twice.
  7. You were born in another country.
  8. You’re an expert traveler and have been on more road trips than Willy Nelson.
  9. You’ve been dared to eat a MRE.
  10. You know what 1500 hours is.

Growing up in the military life is no easy feat. There really is something worth celebrating and appreciating about these kids who live such different lives than most. For all the fun things that set them apart, there are a lot of tough things these kids go through. So happy Month of the Military Child to all the kids out there who’ve had more zip codes than birthdays! You’re amazing!

Raising Multiple Kids During Deployment 2

Why You Need a Library Card After You PCS

After a PCS move, a military family’s to-do list feels never-ending. Not only do you have to unpack those boxes and set up your entire house, but you also probably find yourself looking for a job, trying to get kids enrolled in school and getting lost on your way to the local grocery store, church, hairdresser and gym. A task like getting a library card doesn’t feel like it should be on the top of your to-do list after a PCS move.

But I’m here to tell you, that little library card unlocks a lot. It’s so important that it’s often one of the first stops for my family after we move!

Let me explain: I have five young children, and they all love to read. The only time it’s quiet in our house is on Library Day, when the kids all settle down with fresh reading material, and I get a short respite of much-needed peace. So, after a stressful PCS move when I am already exhausted and frazzled, you better believe I make trips to the library as often as I can!

After years of library trips and PCS moves, I eventually learned that the library offers a lot more than books, and it has helped our family in numerous ways. National Library Week is April 4-10, and it’s a time to celebrate the many ways libraries can help you. Whether you live on base or off base, you can benefit from your local library.

  1. The library has internet and printers. When you PCS, you often have a few days of “down time” before you can get internet set up in your new place. If you’re tired of the slow Wi-Fi at the hotel, or haven’t yet set up your home office, then head to the local library. They have computers and printers already set up, so you can get work done, check your email and print off that PCS paperwork in one quick trip. It’s also wise to make photocopies of the moving receipts and the service member’s orders so you can get your travel claim processed quickly.
  2. Audiobooks for the win. If you’ve been unpacking boxes for days and feel like you need a little escape, an audiobook is an enjoyable way to relax. The library’s audiobook section has plug-and-play books that you can enjoy through your own headset. Not sure what genre to choose or who to listen to next? Check out a new author, treat yourself with a fantasy or spy thriller or just veg out with a steamy romance. You can enjoy your audiobook while you walk around your new neighborhood, wash the dishes or even *sigh* get back to unpacking more boxes.
  3. You need new reading material. Yes, let’s not forget that the library has actual books! If you already powered through a book during your PCS road trip or while you were stuck in a hotel, then look for the next book in the series or another book from the same author. After all the stress of a PCS move, it feels great to curl up in bed with a new book. You put up with the movers, the changes and all the last-minute PCS paperwork; you’ve earned the right to relax for a while!
  4. The kids need books. That’s right, kids can enjoy books too. And reading is essential when your child is in between schools and waiting to be enrolled. Maybe your kid is anti-reading and would prefer to be playing on their phone, but they’ve probably had tons of screen time during the moving process. Stop by the kid section or the young adult section of your library. Between graphic novels and teen book clubs, the librarian can help you find something that will strike your kids’ fancy. Plus, when they’re reading, they’re quiet, so try to keep them supplied with fresh material for the next few days!
  5. You need to watch something new. True story: when we moved overseas with three young kids, we brought a laptop and a couple of their favorite DVD’s. It was weeks before our household goods were delivered. After they watched The Lorax for the tenth time in one week, I was sick of the songs in that movie and never wanted to hear them again! I took them to the library on base, checked out some new videos and finally got to hear something different. Even if you aren’t moving overseas, it will probably be a while before your TV is set up with your favorite subscription channels. So, enjoy the variety of movies available at the library for free.

If you need help getting started planning a move, make sure to check out all of the resources available through Military OneSource!

Featured Topics