Almost every military spouse that hires me uses the word overwhelmed as one of the main reasons she’s hiring me. And its usually over a ton of little things or trying to balance being home with little ones and starting a business. It’s almost as if they can (and have!) dealt with military life’s big stressors (deployments and moves) but it’s the constant little undercurrent of daily stressors, mixed with small tasks that swirl around in our minds, that make them feel as if they are going mad; I’ve been there. Thank goodness my kids are getting a little bit older, but it isn’t easy juggling my coaching practice with writing and driving four kids to sports, life can get pretty hectic, and my spouse is retired! So if you are “in the mix” and feeling totally overwhelmed just please know that you are NOT alone. Some clients tell me, “I know I need to leave my job, but we are moving in a year and a half so should I stick it out even though it’s horrible?” Or they say, “I’m a preschool teacher and I am home for the summer but now I’m overwhelmed with bills and unfinished house projects (we bought our first home) and the kids are all home and my spouse has a recruiting job that is more demanding than a deployment, just help!”
So what can we do? I help clients with a simple exercise where we draw a plate and write down all the things that are on it; then I hand my clients an eraser and ask them what needs to come off. If they can’t take anything off the plate, we talk about how to validate all that is on their plate and how we can best organize the information. The goal is to turn feeling like a wet soggy plate into beautiful china and make sure there is enough space on the plate to see the pretty pattern. I had a book sitting on the table called, Lagom by Niki Brantmark and everyone comments on it. The subtitle says, “Not too little, not too much … living a balanced, happy life.” They sigh and say, “that is what I need! I need to declutter, but I don’t want to be a minimalist or throw everything out.”
As my clients sigh, I acknowledge (and am even a fan of) decluttering their offices and even their homes to be more productive. Letting go of what no longer serves us to make room for what does is actually a big part of my coaching practice. When clients ask me what they can do to get a new job, I jokingly tell them to perform some “Swedish death cleaning” at their current job and trust that as they are dusting off old files, new job ideas will come. I tell my entrepreneur clients that when I need a new client, I just clean my office, and when I am just about finished the phone rings or I get an email from someone that says, “I saw your ad.” I believe that an organized space often propels the law of physics, slows us down, quiets the mind, and invites happiness to find us.
As we let go of the things we don’t use, spend less time with toxic people that don’t cheer us on, and even let go of negative thoughts that clutter our minds, we find our energy increasing and our intuition strengthening. I had one client tell me that as soon as they dropped a big pile of clothing off at goodwill, they got an idea for a new side hustle. Another said she cleared her contacts and deleted people for a month that she no longer spoke to and in doing so connected with two or three people for lunch that she aspired to be more like; she took one of them to lunch who gave her some great ideas on what types of jobs to apply for that would increase her salary. One of the military spouses that I work with said (about a year ago) that she threw out a whole box of mismatched cords that she had dragged with her for her last three houses and she has never brought up during a session that she was stressed by a missing cord. Actually, she has made such great strides that she’s about to start a business that stemmed from blending her values, skills, and interests and I am excited that she continually frees herself from things that drag her down. I can see, first hand, how her letting go is allowing her to truly soar.
Think about the physical and mental things that feel as if they are blocking your path towards an ideal military life. What small step can you take today toward creating that life?