How Women Can Make Family Life Work for Their Careers
“Women actively play many leading roles in life and unless they intentionally steer those roles in the service of their specific visions and goals, they can sabotage their leadership and career growth.”
- Modesta Mahiga.
This was taken 5 years ago. I was smiling outside, but inside, everything within me was screaming, “How on earth did I get here?!”
A high-flying executive, and globally recognized African leader, I had built a powerful personal brand that gave me access and opportunities on enviable "Who's Who" lists across the world.
Then, I got married and was physically incapacitated from traumatic pregnancies (which I had back-to-back - for those of you saying, "Back to back? Couldn't have been that traumatizing, then." - I want you to know that God sees you!).
When my second born was a few months and I started making plans to go back to my businesses, which my colleagues were doing a stellar job leading, in my absence, my husband got a scholarship oversees and insisted that we all go as a family.
I reluctantly agreed to go. We sold everything we had, I closed my businesses, and packed my entire life in 3 suitcases; one had my things, the second, the girls', and the third, African couture outfits to sell - "just in case" LOL! An African woman's got to make a Plan!)
That period of rapid transition almost took me out!
I almost lost myself, But God!
Only God knows how my husband and I stayed sane, and didn't damage our kids.
I was kicking and screaming (figuratively), grieving the loss of my independence, my income, my career (Serial Entrepreneur turned into Stay at Home Mom), my education (I had to let go of 5 opportunities for further studies, including the same program my husband graduated from), dreams (how was I supposed to support human capital and human development in Africa now?!).
As you can see, before marriage, it was all about "me and mine". I had a plan for my life and in my head getting married, having children back to back, and having to move away, ruined it.
My husband was also adjusting to marriage and parenting as well as being in full-time studies and trying to make his student stipend work for his wife and children as dependents under his fellowship, plus he had to deal with my drama ( not to excuse him for his, but this is not the point of today's email ;-))
The girls found everything, every move, every situation to be an adventure. They had no idea how dire things were for us. God bless little kids.
We stayed in this state of disagreement and dissatisfaction until the day I made a decision.
And that is what I would like to focus the remainder of this email on:
"How Women Can Make Family Life Work for Their Careers."
My husband did his program, graduated, started working, and I was still sulking at home with my kids.
I came to learn that:
"If you change nothing, nothing changes."
- Joyce Brothers
Everything that has gone well, and continues to go well, for my global career growth, and impact, started with the grace of God, and my decision to change.
Every opportunity, progress, and advancement that has manifested physically has been the result of my mindset change.
If you are struggling, I want to help you experience transformation, growth, results, and impact in your career and life!
Here are the lessons I learned and would like to share with you if you are a career woman or are close to one that is struggling with her transition as a wife and mother, no matter how many years have passed since she got married:
1. Getting married and having children creates a new dynamic in your life. It requires you to align your many roles to be able to move forward with your individual, marital, parenting, and family goals.
2. Every area of life is important. Career success should not come at the expense of personal and family health, and progress, in that order.
3. Life Transitions are inevitable. They are opportunities to redefine yourself, your future, and your path forward within the dynamics of your current reality, not what you wish could have been, but is not.
4. Although you now exist as a family unit, you are only responsible for and in control of yourself. Relate with clear and healthy boundaries that allow each of you to take ownership of your own decisions and outcomes.
DO YOU, AND ALLOW THEM TO DO THEM!
5. If you are going to stay sane, be effective, and sustain progress, normalize asking, and paying for help, and community.
During my interview with The Citizen's Rising Woman feature, I was asked:
"What should women do to excel in top leadership positions as well as in their careers?"
I cannot pretend to be able to speak authoritatively for all women in general. Please allow me to share 3 priorities I help women leaders align in my work as a Global Leadership Strategist, Coach, and Consultant:
1. Have a vision and goals
2. Build a 360-degree leadership development plan
3. Align allies to support you to prioritize and achieve them
What is increasingly clear is that we can only sustain success, if we make it a total life pursuit.
Women actively play many leading roles in life and unless they intentionally steer those roles in the service of their specific visions and goals, they can sabotage their own leadership and career growth.
Start with the vision for your leadership and career legacy, then come back to the present to ask yourself:
What do I need to align to be able to fulfill that vision?
You may find the need to recalibrate several areas of work and life, including:
1. Prioritizing your health (spiritual, mental, emotional, physical)
2. Setting healthy boundaries to focus your time, energy, finances, relationships, and expertise to achieve your goals.
3. Advocating for yourself by communicating your goals and achievements to critical decision-makers that can advance your agenda.
4. Learning and adopting effective leadership behaviors that build relationships, distinguish your personal brand, and influence the outcomes you desire among the high-powered and political spaces you occupy in your organization, industry, and wider spheres of influence.
5. Building support systems with collaborators and technology for matters under your leadership to operate smoothly without requiring your personal, 24/7 involvement.
The Morale of the Story is...
No one is responsible for, nor can (nor should), advance your agenda more than you.
It is on you to prioritize your career as a family woman.
"How Women Rise" is a fantastic read on how to do so at work.
My video below on "How to Advance Your Agenda" will help you do so at work and in life.
Need help? Click the link to book a Consultation Call to explore how to work with me.
You are not helpless, you are very powerful. As wives and mothers, sometimes we give our power away, and blame it on our families. I dare you to reclaim your power to receive God's best for your work and life!