What next? Now that Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise have filed for divorce, the media isn’t content to follow Katie and Suri watching penguins at the zoo. Instead they want to know what is next for her career: Will she put her energy back into acting? Will she follow up with her interest in fashion? Will she do a little of both?
We military spouses have some of the same problems as Katie Holmes — sans the bazillion dollars, Scientology troubles, and the riveted interest of the free world.
We spouses often have stalled careers, competing career interests, growing kids. If figuring out a career is so hard for Katie, is it any wonder that it is so hard for the rest of us?
Not if we hook into some of the good advice that is being tossed at Katie Holmes right now. In USA Today I caught an interview with Hollywood publicist Michael Levine that offered a framework we military spouses can steal for free.
“First she has to figure out what all actors should do, which is assess where they are and where they want to be in five years and take steps based on reverse engineering to help them be where they want to be,” said Levine.Break that up and apply it to real life and we have a framework that the rest of us can follow:
“Figure out what all actors must do." It isn’t just actors and celebrities who have to figure out what they are going to do with their careers. All workers have to do that. Hold still for a minute now to figure things out. Good careers are the result of a lot of little moments of figuring.
“Assess where they are." Where are you in your career right now? On a napkin, a receipt, or a stickie, jot down a tiny list of your career assets—a diploma, a good personality trait, some work experience, a pot full of ideas, a husband who thinks you can do anything. Whatever good things you have going for you, write them down.
“Where they want to be in five years." Where DO you want to be in five years? When I do this step, I always write down how old my kids will be in five years. That helps me figure out what kind of childcare or supervision is going to be necessary. Then I find out where my husband’s career is going to be—will we still be in the Navy? Really?? Knowing those two things helps me see myself in the future and all of the sudden I have a much better idea of what kind of work I want to be doing. Try it.
“Take steps based on reverse engineering.” This is the magic step. Taking a good guess about where you want to be in five years then figuring out which steps are necessary to get to that spot is much easier when you (as Steven Covey would say) begin with the end in mind. If you want to be a naval architect then you probably will need a degree in naval architecture. So you will have to attend classes that lead to a degree. So you will have to get accepted at a school. So you will have to find out which schools offer naval architecture. And if you are a military spouse you might find out that you won’t be stationed near any of those schools in the next five years. So you go back to the first step and try again.
Katie Holmes — just like the rest of us — isn’t going to make her first plan work. But the eyes of the world are on her. She will be forced to keep trying until she figures something out. So will you.
Navy wife Jacey Eckhart is Editor of SpouseBuzz and author of I Married a Spartan?? The Care and Feeding of Your Military Marriage available on iTunes, Amazon, and on www.jaceyeckhart.com.