Friday, April 27, 2007
DreamGirls....In Real Life
What is your dream job? Have you ever thought about what you were meant to be - vs. what you may be doing right now? If you have reached your dreams - please share your thoughts with my readers - I'm still a work in progress - I'm not there yet. Join the hipmamas with your own thoughts about the "dream job" in your life, or your pursuit of it.
I am the principal of ALlyd Image Solutions, a consulting firm that helps non-profit agencies reach their full potential. I started the practice shortly after my first child was born, when I decided I couldn't work 60 hr. weeks for the rest of my life. I get to address strategy, leadership, resource development and communication - and I love it. I knew that I had professional goals and dreams, but the traditional workforce didn't fit with how I wanted to raise my children. I have worked a vareity of executive and development jobs since that time, and I have continued to consult - largely full-time, in order to have the life we desired. Reality is - Somedays it feels like a dream, and others nightmare.
I get the opportunity to help non-profit agencies fulfill their mission while operating as an effective business. Somedays I get dressed from head to toe, conduct trainings and workshops, strategize and develop plans...and other days, I go to the zoo - in jeans. Flexibility is essential to my happiness, and I like to work hard and play hard. What can happen in this ideal scenario however, is the tendency to work 24 hrs. a day, instead of 8.
My day doesn't start and end at a certain time. As I balance pick-ups, drop-offs and homework - I also have little ones that demand much of my attention. I aspire to have them know that they are my first priority, and to carve out specific times when my clients can have my full attention. What can get lost in this equation is balance. So - I have developed a checklist of how to maintain my happiness in my dream job as a consultant.
1. Identify Your DreamGirls.....
Please, don't get me wrong - a portion of my dreams are fulfilled by my dreamguy, handsome geek husband of 12 years. Yet, I have dreamgirls that make life more manageable. They help me with inspiration, child care emergencies, motivation, tough talk and little reminders about what I do. They often talk my off of the ledge when I think about what could have been if I had gone to corporate America.
2. Identify What Works and What Does Not....
I used to not talk about my children in an effort to keep personal and professional life separate. I have read numerous articles that say you should distinguish those aspects of your life and eliminate any cross over. Note to self - I am my business. My clients know about my kids, the location of my office (both the real one and the laundry room for peace at times), my priorities and my plan B, plan C and plan D options. If someone wants a robot, I am not the best fit. I have learned to just be who I am and at times that means a very humble consultant with 1 contract and at other times - I can't stop thanking God for my overflow of blessings.
3. Pace Yourself
You can have it all, but you can't have it all at the same time. I can look at the grass on other lawns on an average day - but I also get the reminder to look at my own. I have made choices about the type of life I want to have, and although the pieces are a little jagged around the edges - they have been choices. I love my work. I love the time I have with my children.
4. Operate with YOUR Values
A friend of mine often asks what would I do for $1,000,000. We have extreme financial pressures at times, but what I usually can answer most effectively is what I will not do. I operate by principles and beliefs that I can live with and that has to be enough for me at the end of the day - even when the contract is lost as a result of it.
5. Acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses
I am a very good consultant. I do a lot of really good work. Yet, I have blown it in the worst way at times - and I learn as much from my failures as from my successes. I am at a point in life when I can rejoice in both. My kids get to see that I am confident about my skills and humble in my weaknesses - I strive to be and do better, often.
In the movie DREAMGIRLS there are a variety of talented women who are trying to make it to the top. It is set in a different time, in a different industry and with different circumstances than my life. Yet, in real life, I'm glad that my DreamGirls play out differently. We have reached a point in our lives when we define our lives based on our goals and standards, and we work collectively and collaboratively, not at each others expense.
There is something very powerful about working with other independent women who own their own businesses, use their skills to create and define unique jobs, achieve great educational heights and build each other up. One of the best parts of my dream job may be that I get to work with amazing women often. I am reaching for my dreams, and showing my children that they have the power to do the same - defining the terms every step of the way. Now, if I could only get that $1m, while pursuing those dreams.