Tis the season for resolutions, new ideas, and change. While New Year’s Resolutions waiver between being extremely popular and extremely unpopular, making changes during a monumental occasion is scary. Change is hard and challenging, and sometimes exciting. That sounds a whole lot like a PCS move, doesn’t it?
Many military families opt to make those resolutions after a PCS move instead of on January 1st, and it makes sense! Why not seize the opportunity of moving to a new duty station, community and home?
I love moving to a new place because it gives me the opportunity to start over, to reinvent myself. Here are some ways you can do the next time military service requires you to pack up and move to a new location.
1. Commit to your health.
A healthy body makes for a healthy, happy mind. The endorphins released during exercise many times make you feel better. Check out the gym on your new installation, or try one in town that has a free trial membership. See if your area has a workout group with folks who share common interests, a local running group, etc; somewhere you can meet people and exercise at a level you are comfortable with. Bonus: you just might make some great new friends! Eating well can also increase your energy and happiness. Take the opportunity to find the local farmers markets in the area and try our some produce that might be popular in that area. There are so many ways your life will be improved with a serving or two of vegetables and some intentional exercise!
2. Make a happy place.
A new house is a blank canvas, full of potential and white walls just waiting for your personal touch. I always love this part. I get to hang up the curtains I made two duty stations ago to match my children’s bedding. Have you heard of the Facebook group White Walls? It’s a group of over 40,000 military spouses who spend time discussing and suggesting ways to decorate the “white walls” of military housing. They have some great ideas on how to work with small spaces, funky closets, and those horrible stucco walls. Many of us grumble about the painting or the cafeteria-style floors but, even still, each time I walk into a military house I’m amazed at how unique we can each make them. Personality shines through each house and it’s so much fun to see the different ways people decorate. Having younger kids, I’m always amazed at my friends who have “adult” houses, you know the ones with breakable things and nice, matching furniture. One day, that will be me. Maybe.
3. Reach out to the community.
One of the biggest mistake military members and spouses can make is staying inside the gates of base. There is a big world out there! It’s full of interesting people, activities, and organizations. Branching out to the local community can have huge benefits and may land you some cool opportunities! A few options include sports (for kids and adults), community choirs or bands, and volunteer organizations like the animal shelter. Each town has something unique to offer. Here in Sierra Vista, we actually have a Symphony! My husband and I discovered it almost 10 years ago when we were first stationed here and now we make it a regular date night. We also attend church off the installation which puts us in contact with non-military people, which helps to broaden our horizons and make life interesting.
4. Volunteer someplace new.
In my experience, volunteering is one of the best way to change and positively impact your life. There are so many reasons to volunteer and all of them are great. Volunteering can help you fill the gaps in your resume, meet people with similar interests, have fun and feel like you are making a difference. A great place to find ways to volunteer is at your installations’ family services center, or off-post at places like the library or chamber of commerce. There is also a website called volunteermatch.com which helps people find organizations to volunteer for either locally or virtually. Sometimes data entry is needed and you can do that from your home computer. Sometimes they need hands on help for a day event in a city close to you. Get out there and find some ways to give back to your community, while becoming involved in it.
5. Make a career change.
Stuck in a career field you are not really happy with? A PCS move is the perfect opportunity to try something new. That might even mean going back to school to learn a new trade. For the military spouse a move might mean a fresh perspective on the field they want to work in, for the military member it might be a chance to attend a different college or trade school in the evenings to gain a new skill in preparation for life after the military.
6. Discover a new hobby.
For me, it was writing. Writing is therapeutic, even if no one ever reads it. Journaling is a great way to get emotions out and thoughts down on paper for later. Perhaps you have always wanted to learn to play the guitar, take up painting, horseback riding, or tennis. A new duty station might mean new opportunities to follow a long-desired passion or to discover something new. Does your new area have a community college that offers classes in sign language? Does it have a really active adult soccer league? Find out what is available on base or outside of the gates and find a new passion!
Each new duty station is a new chapter of our military lives. Of course you want to make the most of it, but its hard knowing where to start. Don’t get caught up in the “what if’s” or the “way it was before.” Make this new adventure, this new place, the best place yet. It all starts with you.
Read next: Making Friends Off Base When You Move
Do you have a PCS move pending? Need help locating a neighborhood, realtor, lender or other service in your new area? Check out PCSgrades and find reviews you can trust on the things that matter the most to you during and after a move; reviews by and for military families!
Rebecca Alwine has been a military spouse for over 8 years, traveling the world and learning about herself. She’s discovered she enjoys running, loves lifting weights, is a voracious reader, and actually enjoys most of the menial tasks of motherhood. You can follow her on Twitter at armywife1229 or at www.whatrebeccathinks.com