The biggest struggle women face is figuring out how to build a family without totally ruining your career. How can you build a successful career that doesnt totally ruin your life?
I got pregnant my freshman year of college, so I have spent my entire career trying to figure out how to balance my work and my life.
I signed up for an entire load of independent study courses the semester I had Aiden. I will never forget calling my professors from the hospital bed to explain why my assignments would be late.
Being a college student allowed me to work part time, and have a ton of time home with Aiden. Aiden didn’t go to daycare for the first two years of his life, because I figured out a schedule that allowed me ot be home with him the majority of the time.
The downside? We were so incredibly poor.
The year that Aiden started kindergarten was the year I joined Corporate America. Him being in school full-time, gave me the freedom to focus on my career (almost) full-time.
I spent most of his early elementary years working at big jobs that required me to travel around the country.Our life was busy, but making that choice allowed me to build the foundation that got me to where I am today.
Today I am fully self-employed and get to do the work I love from the comfort of my home.
Here are five steps I learned along the way:
1. Be realistic about your priorities
Most women don’t have kids in the beginning of college. I have spent many nights discussing how to have kids and a career with colleagues. Studies show that having kids totally decreases your earning power, and it is becoming increasingly clear that corporate America is not making the radical changes it needs to better support women.
We all have to make choices.
Sometimes we choose to be poor and other times we choose to cut time with our families to focus on our careers. Be honest about the choices you are going to face in then next few years, and figure out a plan that is going to work for your life.
What is most important to you right now? What kind of life do you want to be living? What is non-negotiable? What are you willing to give up?
2. Explore your options
Once you understand your priorities, you can start exploring your career options and narrowing down the path that will work best for your life. It is really important to be realistic during this exercise.
Where are you working today? What paths are open to you? Where do you want to be in One year? Five years? Ten years? What paths can you take to reach your goal?
The best way to explore your options is to look at other professionals who took that path. What did they do to get there? What did they have to give up? Is that something I am willing to give up?
The social web has created tons of career opportunities that you can pursue from the comfort of your own home, or while you are traveling around the world. Choosing a big career does not mean you have to give up your life. Explore all of the paths that are now available to you.
3. Hone your skills
Making a big career leap requires you to learn new skills. Compare the goals you have set for yourself, and where you are today. What skills do you need to learn to achieve your goal? What do you need to improve?
Make a list of skills you need to focus on, and make a plan for doing so. It doesn’t have to be complicated. You can learn any skills from a mix of books, online research and courses. Get creative!
4. Make a plan for landing your dream job
The hardest part of landing your dream job is finding the perfect position for you. It is easy to land a job that is the perfect right fit for you. The hard part is finding that absolutely perfect position.
Start exploring the companies and types of positions that will work best for your life. Keep an eye on when they do their hiring, what kind of skills they are constantly looking for and what gaps you can fill in.
Start building relationships with executives you would like to work for. Having a network of established relationships will set you up for success when it comes time to start applying to positions.
5. Plan for the future
You priorities and dreams will shift during different seasons of life. Create a plan for where you would like to be in the next ten years, and identity the types of flexibility you need in your life.