The Field Mission Dilemma is the proposition to stay Fit for Purpose (of the mission – and after), and the solutions hampered by too few choices — and too little access. If you belong to ‘the complex ecosystem’ of humanitarian employees, consultants, and contractors – you know what I mean. The word Dilemma is used very deliberately. A classic dilemma is a proposition between two equally unattractive solutions. The challenge is to ‘Take it or Leave it’.  

The global response to humanitarian crises is the collective output of a complex ecosystem of communities, organisations and national and international governments, each facing a range of choices about how, where, when and how much they contribute to meet humanitarian need.” – GHA Report 2012


The Field Mission Dilemma: Feel Good, Be Good AND Do GOOD?

You cannot ‘Leave it’ (without major upheaval to yourself, and others) so – you have to ‘Take it’. The challenges are many, the reality different from the initial idealistic thought, and the mindset may not be in place to do something as ‘flaky’ as a lifestyle change.
The Field Mission Dilemma - A choice with equally unattractive solutions illustrated by a three way wooden pathThe gain is that can you Feel Good, Be Good and Do Good. Result for you – Energy, focus, and fitness. For the colleagues, your loved ones, and the mission – Benefit from having you focused, energetic and fit for purpose. 

The Field Mission Dilemma: Choice and Access Reality Check

The Field Mission Dilemma of Access and Choice illustrated by Security fence around compound.On a Field Mission, you are based in a remote location, a conflict zone, or insecure area. Access to open space is bound by security restrictions, and you are often confined to a compound. Your choices are limited too. You cannot choose where to live, what to eat, where to exercise, or who to socialize with.  

Field Mission Dilemma in Remote location, hardship duty station is normal for Humanitarian living conditionsThe overall dilemma is how you can ‘Take it or Leave it’ — and whatever maybe the reason for why you are there, e.g. increase of experience level; career boost; home/life issues; medical procedures; flying hours – you want to have the strength for every day while you on tour
You also want to come out on the other side strong, ready, and well enough to deal with your realities. To get access to this level of wellness – you have to make choices. Choose to be fit, to make changes even when access seems too limiting. 

The Field Mission Dilemma – ‘Take it or Leave it?’

Copyright: Rein Skullerud/WFP, Child in Niger. Hunger, Luxury of choice, World concern

The work we do when on assignment/tour/mission is often for a common good that is seen as much bigger than us. ‘Save the world’, ‘Feed the Hungry’, ‘Fuel for a Country’, ‘Protect Women and Children’. How can you argue that these are not causes well worth fighting for? For an outsider, you are a lifesaver, a hero, an adventurer, and all the other beautiful titles that you – the insider – do not quite recognize.

The Field Mission Dilemma illustrated by photo of children in conflict

Putting it into words…

You get experiences you cannot always put into words, and it’s hard for those close to you to understand. The job satisfaction can be immediate and immense – yet draining, and overwhelming.

You see things that no photo would ever do justice – and to explain it all when you ‘come out’, does not come easy. For the outsider, the photos and stories sound ‘extra ordinary’ and you hear: ‘What a wonderful experience!’ To you the insider — to process it all, so it makes sense, takes the edge off ‘wonderful’. 

Take it? or.. 

You choose to do this because of the work that you do. It is a way of work that is a way of life. No such thing as 9-5 work/life balance in the classical sense. You work with the UN, NGO, Oil company, or local service provider. You are in a career situation as an Organisation Official, Air crew, Transporter, Medical staff, Missionary, Security – on the front line of humanitarian emergencies, natural disaster, or natural resource extraction. You work in places where friends and family say OH! when they hear it.

The employee, consultant, and contractor on the front line of these causes are here based on choices made by themselves, or in fact made by others (reassignment). The drive to ‘do good’ comes with being based in remote locations, living in temporary constructions – and exposed to the realities of civil strife, human suffering, war, harsh climatic conditions, medical bugs and  – yes! all sorts of bugs. 

Leave it?

luxury of choice illustrated by hands with a few grains of rice, hunger issueYou cannot argue against the mission/the cause – because then you are not ‘worthy’ to take part – right?. Nor can you complain about the location – as is a result of the conflict, natural disaster, or natural resources (gas, oil, minerals extraction etc).

Could the conditions within the location be changed, The Field Mission Dilemma with quote saying: To change the world begin with yourselfperhaps? While the employer work on a wellness program time will pass as committees meet and discuss. You – the individual can start now to increase your well-being by doing small changes to how you eat, move, rest, and ‘think’.

Field Mission Dilemma: Take it – Then – Leave it!

The overall dilemma is how you can ‘Take it or Leave it’ — and whatever maybe the outcome of your experience level, career, home life, procedures/hours – you want to have the strength for every day. 
You also want to come out on the other side well enough to deal with your realities. To get access to this wellness you can take small steps every day. Choose to be fit, to make changes even when the confines of a remote location seem too limiting. 

The Field Mission Dilemma: How to be Fit for Purpose

A classic dilemma is a proposition between two equally unattractive solutions. The Proposition is: To be fit for purpose of the mission – so that you can do your part during your work  – and come away somewhat ‘sane’. Being Fit for Purpose is win-win for you and the mission. 
Choice and access are limited by the confines of possibilities to eat healthily, exercise, sleep regular hours, relax and ‘think’. The challenge is to make your choices and find access, despite the limitations. 
In this series, The GOODista will explore the Field Mission way of work – which has its very special peculiarities, stress levels, and constant challenges. It’s a way of work – that is a way of life.  A different way of life, that could be made more balanced – with a few hints, tips and reality checks. Step-by Step, common sense tips that work, within the boundaries of a field mission location. 
Subscribe to The GOODista to get updates for this series. 
The Field Mission Dilemma - Lifestyle change is a key choice to Feel Good AND Do Good. Man standing in a three way crossing scratching his head.Each week you can get access to top-level tips from experts, online resources, and practical, hands-on tips how to make your field mission stay more than a way of work. 
Are you ready to ‘Take it AND Leave it’? 

The GOODista ‘Fit for Purpose’ Series will cover:  

  • How you came to be in this location (your choice or other factors?) and why a Choice to be fit, and Access to the same, makes a difference;
  • How to make healthy food choices when access is limited;
  • How to exercise within the confines of ‘living in a box’, a compound etc;
  • How to deal with the very particular stress realities of a field mission;
  • How to take care of your relationships when away;
  • How to get peace of mind for yourself, and your loved ones when away – e.g. finding the insurance, medical coverage, legal tools (disputes, last will etc);
  • How to negotiate your consultancy fee, contract pay, and employee conditions – as this is a key part of feeling good – too :);
  • How to career plan for your next reassignment/move with expert advice, and links to top job sites when you want to work with NGO, UN, and global contracting companies. 
  • How to find the best mission leave, R & R places, where relaxation and recuperation are really on the agenda.
  • Which topics do YOU want to see covered? Comment and Let us know!

Tip: Read Field Mission Dilemma: Choice and Access and Field Mission Dilemma: Fit For Purpose

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