If you want to layer in more balance and take your five day week to four, you may need to accept that the next promotion won’t be yours. Likewise, if your priority is to be at every soccer practice or drama production, returning to the work force will be a tough transition.
Simply put—you will need to give something up to get something more.
So as you stare at that ‘single-minded’ one thing you want—make sure it has legs to stretch across the personal and professional you, that it does reflect the sacrifices and trade offs that will be associated with it.
Once you’ve landed on your ‘headline’—you’ll want to write down a strategy on how to achieve it. Speak to professional and personal contacts who can help you find and achieve what you are looking for. What kind of environments will help you achieve this—including the one that you may be working in right now?
Some solid advice from the HR Director of a consumer packaged goods company on people being able to manage their own professional destiny is this: if people want flexible work arrangements or to consider different options then they need to raise their hand. Don’t waste your time leading everyone else professionally to believe what you want is the standard (because you think that is more professional). How will they know unless you ask for it? In workharmony words…you need to take ownership of your flexible work options.
But let’s face it, these decisions can be tough. Admitting that you don’t want to ‘do that anymore’ can feel like you are failing when in fact you have never been closer to your holistic ambitions.
And I suppose that is why Lawyers are becoming real estate agents, Bay Street executives are opening customized cookie stores, flower shops and advertising executives are interior designers.
It is what they wanted to do. And the decision allows them to manage their holistic ambitions (which is personal and professional if you are still wondering what I am getting at with that term).
Reinvention is important and easy to do if you are focused and realistic.
The truth is change is all around us—so if you’ve spent some time on what you want and written down a list of ways to go and get it—start opening up the dialogue with people that can help you achieve it. Start taking the steps to make it happen vs just thinking about it.
In the words of Winston Churchill—there is nothing to fear but fear itself.
The fall seems to evoke universal ‘self-renewal’ amongst moms; professional and stay-at-home. This was obvious to us at workharmony when we watched our traffic to the site spike on the first day of school—almost implying that post ‘drop-off’ moment resulted in a contemplative moment amongst women, to reconsider their career options.
So what are your options? Well, as I like to say (particularly this season)—gray is the new black.
Today, women are carving better deals to maintain their careers via part-time or contract roles within organizations. Those who have opted to stay at home are finding their way through entrepreneurial, out-of-the-box ideas or reinventing themselves as they jump back into the professional workforce.
So how are they doing it?
By managing expectations and marketing themselves ‘smarter’. Perfect balance or ‘having it all’ is a little like utopia—in our mind it exists but in reality it’s more likely to be found next to ‘the fountain of youth’ than around the corner from your home.
I tend to have two types of conversations with moms and interestingly enough, both are remarkably similar. There is the stay-at-home mom who is planning to re-enter the workforce because ‘it’s time’ (for whatever reason) and the professional mom who is planning to scale back on work and focus more on family because ‘something has to give’.
It isn’t hard to see that both sets of women who want this utopia called balance need to give something up to get it. This presents a fundamental challenge for many women who have been walking around thinking they could and should ‘have it all’. But trust me, having it all is exhausting.
The key to solving this puzzle is to determine not what you thought you wanted, not what you think you should want but what you really want. I warn you, this is more challenging than it sounds.
What do you really want? Write it down.
If you are like most people, you’ve written a few things down. For the next few days I strongly urge you to revisit your thoughts and get it down to one thing to be sure that this is in fact what you want.
And next week—I’ll share thoughts on how you can get it!