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Own Your Story

I was hormonal, crying, pregnant, and cold as I sat in my car talking with a former co-worker.  “Do you need to work right now?!” he asked me.  “What do you mean?  I’ve always worked.”  I worked the long hours, traveled a lot.  I climbed the ladder.  He asked me why I was still working if I didn’t need to be.  I apparently wasn’t enjoying it anymore and my motivation was waning.  So I made a call to my company and asked them to forecast a run-off of my future commissions:  $1,000,003.  Not only had I earned commissions the previous 9 years, but if I walked away at that moment, they still owed me over a million dollars.  (A million was actually my goal so I took it as a sign from God that that extra $3 he threw in was icing on the cake.)  So I left.  Cashed out a year earlier than I had previously anticipated.  And started a new chapter for myself and my family.  And I had a hard time dealing with it.

I mean, how many people – women especially – have a hard time saying what they do?  “I’m a teacher.”  But she hasn’t taught in years.  “I sell for (this brand)….but it’s just a hobby.”  She’s afraid what people will think and doesn’t own it.  Or, “I work in management,” but she’s killing it in her career and doesn’t feel like she can brag.   I had a hard time saying what I was going to be doing – being a mom.  It felt strange.  I understand it’s the most important position I’m ever going to have but still felt weird saying it.  And what I realized is that many of us have a hard time with the different transitions in our lives.  Priorities and attitudes evolve, dreams die, or life just happens.  Whatever your story, own it.

I scored a 30 minute meeting on International Women’s Day with Dana Mortenson, the CEO and founder of World Savvy.  We were talking career gaps and I asked her what her advice would be to women who took time off for families or health reasons.  And although she didn’t take a break and worked while she had kids, she said her biggest advice would be to own the gap.  Own your story.  But many of us women find ourselves comparing to others or trying to be what we think society’s expectations of us are, and can’t quite get our story straight.

And I’ve been trying to figure out what my story is.  I told people I retired because I did.  And I loved being at home with the kids.  (I mean, who would ever regret spending more time at home with their family and less time working?!?!)  But I missed the work outlet.  I missed the extra income.  (Although I still got paid, it was considerably less than what I was making.)  And I didn’t know how I was going to transition back into the working world, or when that would even be.  But I needed a game plan.  For me, without work at some level, I felt a little lost.  So I started a side gig.  And it’s growing.  And it’s making me evolve.  It’s transitioned into helping other women business owners along with the ones on my team.  I’ve helped start a new women’s networking group.  I’m still at home with my kids, but as they get bigger and start school, I also have something for myself.  So I can’t really say I’m a stay at home mom.  I’m not truly retired anymore.  I’m somewhere in the middle.  I’m a business owner who’s business doesn’t run my life.  Things are happening, and I’m so inspired.

What’s your story?  What are you REALLY doing right now?  Maybe it’s not what you thought and maybe it is.  But own it.  The world needs you to show up as you are with your god-given talents being used to help others as you better your situation.  Maybe for you that means being a full-time mother.  For someone else that means investing in themselves to climb that ladder at work.  For someone else that requires getting healthy.  Our story gets good and inspiring as we deal with the ups and downs and lessons we learn along the way.  And whatever the next chapter is that you are writing, make it worthy of reading.

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