What Worries Us: Our Careers… Our Futures

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The five big-ticket items that we moms seem to dwell on in the small hours of the morning are our health, relationships, money, abilities and careers. No short list, right? I mean, based on that theory, when are we every not worrying?

No, wait. I think I already know the answer to that question.

What Worries Us: Our Careers… Our FuturesSo, today, let’s get into careers. Do we have them? Are stay-at-home moms working? Are moms with jobs outside of the home (or, like most of us here at EverythingMom, at home, but not lacking in demand) working two jobs? How do you get promoted from laundry duty? Will you go back to work once your youngest starts school? What will you do? I mean, gosh, the recession and all, and you’ve been home for so long now…

Odds are, not only did I just electronically badger you further into anxiety, but most of those questions have been at the forefront of your mind at some point since you first took maternity leave.

The word ‘career’ is usually meant to define a specific job someone does, receives payment for, and has the intention to do for some major part of their employed life. But! The word ‘career’ has also recently come to mean something someone does for a majority of their time, regardless of employment or earnings potential.

Being a stay-at-home mom is a career, you just get paid a little differently than a typical CEO, CFO, executive assistant, bookkeeper, maid, chauffeur and nanny would. Make no mistake about it being home encompasses all of those roles. And better: those invisible job titles? Are completely transferable.

I’ll get back to that point in one second.

Being a work-at-home mom is a career ensconced in a career. Your kids are there while you’re fulfilling customer’s needs, and you’re double-shifting it. You’re what businesses would call an asset, because you’ve learned to manage, multitask, balance priorities and do it within a finite amount of time.

Moms who work full-time outside of the home have pull double-shifts as well: they fulfill a certain amount of hours away from the family, earning money, and then they come home and take care of the family – often playing catch up on some or all of the day’s tasks that the stay-at-home mom might have had time to deal with.

One of the first financial-planning books I ever read told of the W.H.O. principal – Want, Have To and Ought To. I’m going to transport that into today’s suggestions.

You want to know how to stop worrying about your career, lack thereof, or where you’re headed? Chart your thoughts using W.H.O. Each column can include anything pertaining to your career – pay scales, benefits, tasks, company types, industry, hours, location, and on and on. Just dump your day-dreams and realities on the page.

Then walk away for however long it takes you to clear you mind, coming back with a fresh set of eyes. See any patterns or room for improvements? Do you see a parallel between your current ‘job’ and your Want column?

When you’re nearly always worried about where you are not being good enough, and where you might not be going, it can get hard to see what’s right in front of you.

It’s quite possible that you’re already doing the job you’ve dreamed about for years – but maybe you’ve just been working with infants instead of celebrities. This is where transferable skills come in.

Regardless of where you’ve been working and what you’ve been doing, analyze your W.H.O. chart for a connection. Is your future appearing on that paper, a fuzzy blur right now, but clearer than an hour before you wrote it? Assuming the answer is at least a very strong maybe, you can move onto the next step: figuring out what the person with that job does, how and why they’re good at it.

Done that? How do you fit into that hypothetical person’s shoes?

So what if you’re a SAHM. You manage money, market materials to other moms via word of mouth promotions, multitask, prioritize, are used to working with little (non-tantrum-derived) direction, are flexible, able to forecast and so on. There’s honestly no shame in displaying your responsibilities over the past years as skills on a CV. Even better: if you can provide examples, such as, “reassessed 2009 annual budget to create new financial practices, resulting in a net-worth increase of over $49,000”, you’re really going to sell yourself as a tangible asset to an employer.

What else do you need to upgrade – via formal education, networking, studying or in other ways – in order to fill in the spaces between what you already have done and what you want to do? And once you know the answer to that question, how long will it feasibly take you to do it?

There you go. You suddenly have a one-, two-, five- or ten-year plan, and you can stop worrying about your career.

Now you’re planning it.

 

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