Category Archives: Purpose

5 Ways to Hustle Like a Motha’

untitled-design-2The word hustle is often used by online marketers to describe the relentless hard work of moving toward a vision or dream. When I read the bravado on this topic, it annoys me. Not because I judge ambition. I love and respect ambitious and hardworking people (including my own)! But I know what the hustle looks like when you have kids or are a caregiver (and/or are working a full-time while starting your dream business) and it doesn’t look like most of what I see online.

Recently, I made my perfect Monday hustle plan on Sunday evening including a check in call first thing Monday morning with a colleague that is my writing buddy who helps me keep on track with my writing goals.

Great structure and accountability habit, right?! …Except my son was running late for school (which he never is) and missed the bus. We planned to speak a little later than usual…but her mom, who is in the early stages of dementia, needed to be taken to an emergency appointment. (Backdrop…my colleague also has two teens and runs a very successful acupuncture business.) Early afternoon then? Well, typically, but my daughter was sick and had to be picked up from school. Although my husband works from home, he was at a meeting in Boston.

When you are responsible for other humans, hustle can feel disjointed some days even for those of us that have the luxury of working from home and have supportive partners to share the load. (The woman that waited on me at Starbucks this morning is not as fortunate.) The rhythm may be different and the pace even a little slower than you would like sometimes, but it is doable to make the professional progress you desire in the midst of it all. I have done it in my own life and have witnessed many other women (including some of you) doing it too. Here’s how I hustle like a mother:

  1. Know your goal, why it’s important to you, and write that sucker down.  It sounds trivial but this is the most important step. Without clarity of purpose, there is always a reason to not get something done. Exceptions are more the rule in life. The question I always ask about my goal is “how can I get this done despite my current circumstances?”
  2. Narrow your focus by quitting. I hate this one because I want to be helpful all the time to everyone. Last year I learned how critical it is to narrow focus to one or two specific goals for the year. Even dreams need to be prioritized. I rarely say an immediate “yes” to anything anymore. For example, I wouldn’t have grown a technology practice to seven figures, started the What’s Your Brave project or written Take 5 for Your Dreams and Reclaim Your Dreams if I hadn’t resigned from almost every volunteer commitment I had (and the list was long). This is hard for me; I still feel guilty about it sometimes. But I was replaceable – and I mean that in the kindest way; when it comes to volunteering/work, we all are.
  3. Plan your one non-negotiable action the night before. And I mean ONE. I make the day’s plan the evening before, know what the one non-negotiable priority for my day is and chunk that out into one to five essential micro steps I can accomplish to get there. 
  4. Focus on values. I don’t want to hire out picking up my sick daughter and my colleague wants to take care of her mom. Now that my kids are getting a little older, I see these moments as opportunities to connect rather than interruptions and distractions, but I also have vocational goals that I feel called toward and I am not willing to sacrifice those either. Now I know my values. I don’t need to clean my house or lead volunteer committees, but I want to spend as much time with my kids as I can and move forward on my vocational dream.
  5. Practice self-compassion. (Or alternatively, a who-cares attitude about stuff that doesn’t matter to you.) It never doesn’t always look pretty and my house is kind of a mess, but I am learning to keep it in perspective. 

Did I hustle that Monday in the midst of it all? You bet, though not at the time or in the way I prefer. Rather than putting my goal off until the next day, I asked, how can I get this done now despite the changes in my schedule? Later that day, I went for a quick run which always stimulates ideas and wrote in my car. It wasn’t pretty or perfect, but it was done.

How about you? How do you hustle like a mother?

Join us for FREE practical tips on {re}claiming your dreams for busy women and girls

4 Actions You Can Take While You Are Working *Only* for the Money

shutterstock_416147533
My job is soul-sucking.

It’s not the first time I have heard this phrase from someone that is miserable in their work. Many people that are deeply unsatisfied and unhappy at their jobs describe an oppressive (and sometimes hostile) daily existence including: a lack of trust in their co-workers or management, feeling pressure to perform without support (or sometimes active sabotaging), political game playing such as others taking credit for their work, experiencing subtle or overt sexism, finding the work meaningless, boring, or in some cases morally bankrupt, etc…

Others say they feel as though they are not living up to their potential or want to be involved in work and people that matter to them. At some point during the conversation, I usually ask:

So why not quit?

And the response:

I can’t afford it.

This is smart response. Financial security and taking care of your family are meaningful reasons to stay at your soul-sucking job temporarily. If timing is your choice, I never recommend quitting your current position without a transition plan and an understanding of what’s next for you.

Sometimes though, especially for those in high-paying and/or prestigious positions, the conversation leads to staying because of the importance of maintaining a certain lifestyle.

Reminder: A few weeks of family vacation where you worry about your work often, that beautiful house where you can’t sleep without medication, or weekend’s where you feel depressed and exhausted…is not much of a lifestyle.

Whether you are at a soul-sucking job or simply want to do something bigger or more meaningful, there is a third option. Stay while you plan your escape by:

  1. Saving. Reduce or alleviate the financial risk of making a big shift. Reduce your expenses, get a second job, support your spouse in working, or start a side gig. Most people that are unhappy at work feel that they do not have any other choice but to stay. Without some level of financial safety net, the risk and anxiety of leaving your job may be too significant.
  2. Dreaming. There is zero risk in dreaming about what you want. Carve out even five minutes a day to explore and be intentional about your work and life dreams by asking yourself the big questions. Reflect on what it is most important to you in the next phase of work and life.  With the right questions and process in a short time you will see patterns and a direction emerge. Reconnect with your dreams first and then get very practical about what is feasible and what would be a financially profitably way to approach it. Here are a couple of questions to get you started. Remember these are brainstorming exercises, so no filter and no right or wrong answer. This is between you and you.  Your answers may range from specific and small to visionary to vague: If time, money, or the opinion of others were not a factor, what goals and activities would you pursue? What issues, causes, and problems that need solving have you been particularly drawn to.
  3. Taking micro steps. Don’t stop with dreaming, because without action (and eventually a plan), you won’t make progress. Once you know what you want, then start making a list of infinitesimal, doable steps you can take toward it.
  4. Finding something meaningful in your work now. Bringing more of yourself into your life can help. Try one of these every day: write down one way in which you are contributing in a positive way to your company; start the day by recording one thing you are grateful for at work; reach out consciously to someone at work with a kind or encouraging word; go outside at lunch and breathe the fresh air; or brainstorm out-of-the-box ideas to help your company that would also fuel your own passions.

How about you, what one small, infinitesimal step can you take to begin toward work that is meaningful to you?

 

Join us for FREE practical tips on {re}claiming your dreams for busy women and girls

When Overthinking Destroys Your Dreams

I am a great believer in signs, but I’ve learned that we increase the likelihood of spotting them when we’re moving down a path, not waiting but expecting. -Paul Boynton

Creative Commons. Copyright Nate and Tilly Ritter.

Creative Commons. Copyright Nate and Tilly Ritter.

During a meeting on an empowerment program that I am piloting this fall (based on the work of the What’s Your Brave project), our conversation turned to the dreams of the adults in the
room. As often happens, one of the grown-ups sheepishly offered that they are still figuring it all out.

To which, I said:

Thank God!

Me too!! Awesome!

This means you and I are still growing and discerning how to achieve meaningful work and life and how we can best impact to make this world a better place. This is so alive and the alternative is to be a spectator in your own life.

Here’s where most of us go wrong.

When my five siblings and I were growing up, one of my mother’s favorite mantras in exasperation was:

You think too much.

As the ultimate overanalyzer, I was indignant that she would minimize the importance of considering issues from all vantage points.

But my mother was right. Many of us want to analyze and think our way into our dreams and goals. Reflection and planning will save you time, heartache and money, but it will only take you so far.

It’s embarrassingly obvious, but without action, you won’t progress. Action builds momentum. Overthinking destroys it.  

Listen to my mother (who is now in her 80’s)! You can’t think your way into clarity and progress on your dream; you grow into it through action.

Take 5

There is no actual risk in taking one small action toward your dream today. Not sure where to start? Do the thing that is at the core of your boldest dreams. Want to be a writer? Write (and read) every day. Painter. Paint. That’s where the magic will happen.

 

Join us for FREE practical tips on {re}claiming your dreams for busy women and girls

Sometimes the Solution is Easy

The most effective way to do it, is to do it. – Amelia Earhart

It’s September and for me that means reflecting on what I have achieved thus far and what I want to accomplish in the next year. Recently, I was complaining  sharing with a friend about my lack of time for writing in the midst of growing a new company and family. Life is busy, incredibly so for those of us (which is most of us) juggling work and family and kids’ commitments…and then there’s sleep.

But I stopped myself because sometimes the solution is easy, as is the case here. And so I am taking Amelia’s advice and choosing the most effective way to do it by doing it. For this year (Wait! What?! That’s a lot of public practicing.), I will be blogging five days a week on creating meaningful work and life in the ‘burbs – keeping it real and sharing my own personal experiences on building a purpose-filled business. Asking big questions, providing research-based practical tips and case studies, inspiration, and working hard to focus on what matters most.

Take 5

How about you? Is there a goal or a dream that you don’t think you have time for? I hope you will join me in taking Amelia’s advice and do it. Start by subscribing using the link below.

Join us for FREE practical tips on {re}claiming your dreams for busy women and girls

What to Follow When in Search of Your Purpose

Untitled designA couple of weekends ago, my daughter and I took a very casual peek at a couple of colleges. As cliché as it sounds, it is such an exciting time of possibility, when there is literally a world of opportunity waiting for her. Being a witness and supporter in the process is especially poignant and joy-filled for me given my early life circumstances.

We checked in at a shady three-star hotel and drove to the local 99 restaurant for dinner, near the school that we planned to visit the next day. The walls of the 99 had photos of elite college sports teams and other college alum from decades past to present. The host, a man probably in his late twenties, greeted us, 

“How are you?”

“Great and you?”

“Awesome,” he said. “Living the dream,” he said.

“Just living the dream,” he repeated as he whisked passed us and one of the black and white college photos.

I wondered how many times he had said it before. To how many moms and dads with their high school students visiting from out of town.

“This way, please.”

Everyday pleasantries returned.

Maybe he loves his work and was just having a bad day or he hates his jobs but is funding his real work with its paycheck… or maybe this is his second job, supporting a family, working hard to make ends meet…or maybe the heaviness of his dreams unrealized particularly weighed on him in that moment. I have my theories (and sometimes think I am a mind reader), but what’s true and real is that I will never know for sure.

Whether imagined or not, the thought of his unleashed potential dying a little bit everyday broke my heart. Broke. My. Heart.

Looking for your calling? What breaks your heart? Follow that. Find a way to change that.

Join us for FREE practical tips on {re}claiming your dreams for busy women and girls