It’s been said that working toward a dream without a plan is nothing more than a wish. In this issue of Working Mom 3.0, writer Stephanie Taylor Christensen offers tips on how work-at-home moms can put their career goals into action.
It starts with a plan
Particularly if you did not plan your long-term career goals around being a work-at-home mom, the simple aspect of not knowing what the future holds, or how to go about building it, can be daunting. To combat the uncertainty, self-doubt and fear, build a plan that will pave the way to new achievements and keep you continually moving toward the career path you want. Here’s how.
Identify the big whys
Defining the why behind the work-at-home career you want is critical to keeping your energy focused as you sort through the many different paths you’ll encounter as you build a new career. Be specific and honest in the intentions you outline. Do you want to make as much money as possible while working very little, or do you have a specific passion you want to pursue, even if it means very little money? Is replacing a specific amount of income your primary driver? Similarly, what won’t you sacrifice? If bringing in child care, working off-site occasionally, or “tag teaming” work out of the home with your husband during nights and weekends is out of the question, make it part of the plan now. The more you can define the subtle details that will deliver what you seek, the more efficiently you can pursue opportunities.
Emulate the path of those who’ve conquered
When I first started out as a freelance writer, I didn’t have any contacts or clue as to how I’d find clients. I did, however, know the publications I wanted to eventually be a part of, so I focused my energy there. If there’s a company or industry you want to break into, research the thought leaders who are in it and how they forged the path they did to get where they are. With tools like LinkedIn, you can easily “breadcrumb” a strategic path that will lead you to key contacts, who can lead you to others and so on. You’ll hit some dead ends, but slowly, you’ll make progress and start to learn more about what you want, and how to get it.
Give yourself a deadline
When you’re juggling family and work, it’s too easy to put your career off for another day — especially when you don’t yet have actual clients or an employer holding you accountable. Be your own project manager and set small deadlines you must achieve each week, whether it’s making a new contact, earning an additional amount of money or perfecting a new skill.
Keep moving forward
“Having it all” can be exhausting, but don’t lose sight of the passion that gave you the courage to pursue work-at-home motherhood, regardless of where your journey leads. After about a year of freelance writing, I eased back on my prospecting, reasoning that I didn’t want to sacrifice my reputation or quality by taking on too much. But, when my mother-in-law inquired on New Year’s Day 2012 about my resolution for the coming year, I blurted out “write for a major magazine.” What surprised me wasn’t the goal, which had been on my “bucket list” for decades, but rather, the fact that I had lost sight of my big dreams. Thanks to her probing, I reignited my focus and scored my first assignment with Real Simple one month later.
Working Mom 3.0
The modern woman is redefining what it means to have a successful career. Rather than feeling torn between climbing the corporate ladder and having a happy family life, many women are choosing to merge the two and transition careers from a traditional role to a more flexible one. Working Mom 3.0 is reinventing the definition of “working mom,” as office hours are held at home and revolve around nap times.
This column begins by chronicling the experiences of Stephanie Taylor Christensen, a former marketing professional turned self-employed stay-at-home mom, writer and yoga instructor, as she strives to redefine “having it all” on her own time and terms.