National Mentoring Month Makes Sense for MilSpouses

If you have big plans -- a word for the year, some personal commandments or something else -- for 2016 you could probably also use big help.

Yes, help.

No matter what your goals are for this year, don’t tackle them on your own. Whether you’re a stay at home parent looking for resources on sleep training or a busy professional building a business (or maybe you’re trying to balance both!), we all need someone to turn to for guidance from time to time, and Google only helps so much.

You need someone who has walked the same path ahead of you.

You want someone with firsthand knowledge and experience.

You have to have someone who understands your goals and can help you meet them.

You need a mentor, and with January being National Mentoring Month, now is the perfect time to find one!

Stay with me -- this isn't as wild as it seems. Having a mentor certainly isn’t a new concept. The very word “mentor” dates back to Homer’s Odyssey, when Odysseus left to fight in the Trojan War and entrusted his home and child (sound familiar? Turns out deployments aren’t a new concept, either!) to his friend, Mentor. Mentor watched over Odysseus’s son and became his most trusted advisor. The relationship was so revered that we still use the word ‘mentor’ today.

But, why do you need a mentor? And, maybe more importantly, how do you find one?

You need a mentor because you deserve to grow. We all do. You’re worth investing in, developing, and improving. There’s a misconception that mentorship is reserved for the workplace, and that’s not true. A mentor is needed in any area of your life you’re seeking guidance on.

Do you have a mommy friend you always turn to when the kids are sick? Are you a new spouse struggling to navigate the acronyms and paperwork and military lingo? Is there a seasoned spouse you call when you get a new set of orders? What Facebook group are you posting in when you have a question about Tricare? Maybe you have someone for those areas or maybe you need someone. Mentorship can (and should) happen anywhere, and like a Lay’s potato chip, you can (and should) have more than one.

So how do you find a mentor? It may sound simple, but you have to make “The Ask.” If there’s someone you respect and think you could learn something from, tell him or her. Ask if he or she has the time and energy to mentor you. Most people are incredibly flattered and if they have the time, want nothing more than to pay it forward. Chances are they’ve benefited from mentorship along the way, too.

I once walked up to Jacey Eckhart (SpouseBuzz’s former editor) after I saw her speak at an event. Although I’m pretty sure I mispronounced my own name I was so nervous, I asked if she’d be willing to mentor me. I’d respected her work for a long time, knew she was someone I could learn from and found an opportunity to ask. She made time for me to help me through some challenges I was facing and gave me great, actionable guidance. Make “The Ask.”

If you don’t have a mentor in mind, use these great resources compiled by Military OneSource to find one. From a formal eMentoring program  to finding local military spouses to link up with, these programs exist to help you find a mentor. Putting yourself out into the local military community through volunteering or other base events will also put you alongside other like-minded spouses with wisdom to share.

Who knows? Maybe you’ll share a little of your own wisdom along the way.

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