Episode 7: How My Flexible Job Gives Me Freedom to Find My Purpose

 

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Victoria:    Hi, I'm Victoria Hefty, and welcome to Activate Purpose where I talk about finding purpose through action while balancing motherhood and career. Today I'm so excited to discuss how having a flexible job has given me the freedom to search for my purpose and allowed me to actually thrive professionally in a whole new way. I'm also going to share how you can learn where I go to find professional, flexible, mom-friendly jobs.

Let's just begin with defining what flexible means, because I think that's important so that everyone could sort of be on the same page. So a flexible job could be anything from a full-time role that is completely remote, to an office job that allows you to work from home one day a week, or even a role where you could do condensed work week. For example, work Monday through Thursday, and take Friday off. My flexible arrangement is also an option. As I've mentioned in earlier episodes, I'm currently an independent consultant. So I help Fortune 100 firms with strategy and market research. Basically that's just a fancy way of saying that I work directly with companies on usually short-term projects. That's sort of my preference.

It's flexible because I pick the projects that are usually remote or require very minimal travel, so like once a month, and I could work outside of 9:00 to 5:00. So that means I can work early in the mornings, I could work late at nights, or even work weekends. It doesn't matter, I have the freedom to choose. Yes, I still have meetings with the client during the day, because obviously I'm not going to have a meeting with them on the weekend, but outside of those strict meetings with clients, I can work whenever I want.

The thing is, I never really expected to be on this path when I left my full-time role as a director at a health company almost two years ago today. Minus a short stint in the Virgin Islands actually as a bartender, which I will talk about in the next episode, which is episode eight, my professional background has actually mostly been in healthcare and strategy. I've always had a traditional corporate job and before I became a mom, I really didn't want it any other way. I enjoyed the structure, predictability, and regular pay checks that a corporate job provided, so do most people, right? There's nothing surprising that I'm telling you. But, I really had no desire to go outside of that.

But in fact, I can laugh about this now, when I first started dating my husband, we met when I was getting my MBA, he asked me if I ever wanted to become an entrepreneur. And we both clearly remember now saying ... me saying actually, "Absolutely not. Why would I do that?" I was just ... the idea was outrageous. I was like, "I have this great corporate background, I'm in my MBA to get a better corporate job. I am not leaving that path." And to be fair, I had nothing motivating me to go down the entrepreneurial road. But after I had my daughter, the structure and hierarchy at work that I once saw as a clear defined path to success, all of a sudden really felt like a roadblock that I couldn't work around, unless I played by a very strict set of rules.. Likewise, the predictability of corporate life that once gave me a comfortable routine, now felt like this rigid schedule that just didn't allow for any flexibility. Flexibility to go to work super early, or work late in the evening so that I could spend more time, active day time, with my daughter. Flexibility to work from home if she was sick and only wanted to nurse.

A good example that I'm sure some moms can relate to is, there were a couple of instances when my daughter was around eight months or so, and she was sick. She refused to drink milk from her bottle. The babysitter didn't know what to do, and I was at work stressed, because I was stuck in meetings and I couldn't be there to feed her. I wanted flexibility to sort of figure out how I could raise my daughter and also focus at work, and I just wasn't getting it. And I felt like I didn't have the option at work after what I call the grace period. So many women, including me, find it hard to ask for and keep a flexible arrangement 6 to 12 months after having a baby. It's like a lot of companies are flexible in the immediate period after you come back from maternity leave, but then like 3, 6, or 12 months after, they're like, "Okay, time to go back to the rigid schedule that you signed up for."

So due to a whole set of factors actually, that I wrote about in my book, The Insiders Guide to Maternity Leave, I decided to resign from my job so that I could have more flexibility to raise my then 10 month old daughter. After resigning, I focused on my book that I just wanted to write so I could share my story and the stories of a lot other professional working women, and my pregnancy blog. But to be frank, the income wasn't nearly enough to cover my full-time income that I had just left, when I left my job. And money aside, I was missing sort of the professional mental stimulation that work provided.

I found it frustrating that just because I didn't want to be in an office Monday through Friday, 9:00 to 5:00, it didn't mean that I didn't want to work. The fortunate thing, however, is that I resigned at this beautiful time when all of these amazing options were sprouting up for people like me. Experienced professionals who wanted more flexibility in the workplace. Many of them, moms. At the end of the show, I'll share how and where you can start searching for a flexible job. But first, I want to talk about three things that I've learned over the past year.

One, it's perfectly okay to admit that your entrepreneurial, or creative passions, aren't generating a full-time income yet. I think everyone has this fear of not living up to the big goals that we set out to achieve in the name of finding our passion, or pursuing our passion. But the reality is, it takes a lot of time and patience, and it may take a lot of stumbling through a lot of different passions or projects to find the one that really works together, and sort of meshes the passion side with the monetization side.

I spent 10 years working and getting a top MBA to earn my really high six figure corporate salary. It was unrealistic to think that a blog, a book, and some other little projects could generate that same income in a year or two. And once my husband pointed out that all of these amazing companies that we all know of, took years to turn a profit, I realized how silly I was being for considering my ventures failures. And instead, began to take pride in my projects.

Two, my flex role, I think, actually compliments my path to finding my deeper purpose. For example, the income that I earn allows me to focus on the things that I genuinely want to do, like this podcast. I was talking to a good friend recently, and she asked me how I was monetizing this podcast. And I said, "I'm not." You know I've established enough of an audience with my book and websites, that could in theory reach out to smaller sponsors, but I don't want to, and frankly I don't need to. The income from consulting projects is giving me the financial space I need to breathe and create with a free heart, without thinking about whose my market, how can I advertise this? And I think that free heart is hopefully reflected in the joy that I get from recording, and is something that you can feel when you listen to me.

Similarly, because I get to have a creative outlet, I find that the work that I do deliver for my consulting clients, has an ease to it that I've just never felt before when it comes to my work. Yes, the projects are still very challenging, but as an independent consultant, I don't have to worry about the day-to-day office politics, annual performance reviews, annoying co-workers, the commute, the list goes on and on. I can just focus on the work. So never feel ashamed for having both a professional career and side hustle, or whatever you want to call it. Done right, these two things can actually benefit each other.

Then lastly, it sounds redundant but a flexible job gives me the flexibility to better juggle motherhood, career, and creative passions. So for example, as I stated before, I prefer short-term projects. These projects are usually intense, they require working crazy hours for two to three weeks, and then I usually take like four to six weeks off to recover.

For some people, that doesn't work. But for me, it's actually perfect. It means that while my daughter is at school in the morning, I work. And then I pick her up around lunch time, make her lunch, get her to lie down for a nap. While she's napping for a couple of hours, I continue working. And then once she wakes up, I'm really able to spend quality time with her. And then when my husband comes home, spend some time with him, and then when they're sort of ... she's in bed and he's settled, either asleep or kind of having his own down time, I can then work late into the night if I have to.

When I don't have a consulting project, I pretty much follow the same schedule minus some late nights. And I use that time that I did focus on work, to work on my creative passions.
So again, it may not be ideal for other people, but for me it's a really perfect schedule that prevents me from burning out and allows me to spend a lot of quality time with my family.
In summary, the three things that having a flexible job has taught me about finding my purpose is one, it's perfectly okay to admit that entrepreneurial passions are not generating a full-time income. Don't let that stop you. Keep on pursuing all of the different creative outlets that you have, and just let that drive you. And don't worry so much, at least if you can, about the income just yet.

Two, my flexible role actually compliments my path to finding a purpose. So like I said, the income that I generate gives me the sort of mental space to breathe and create with a free heart, which I think results in a much better, high quality content of both either the podcast, or the book, or the website, or any project that I'm working on. I can just sort of focus on what do I want to say without having all this mental financial stress on my mind.

And then three, a flexible job gives me the flexibility, like a said, to juggle all of these things. So for me, that means I can do an intense project and then take however long I need to rest before I start a new one.

When you add it all up, I think that this is just one avenue that a lot of people don't think about when possibly pursuing a flexible job is, what else can I do outside of just work? And I would encourage everyone, whether it's half an hour a week, or an hour a week, or it's something that you actually want to pursue as a full on entrepreneurial passion, to seek out when possible, a role that allows for some flexibility so that you can see what life has to offer, what other options you may have, while still keeping both the professional and the revenue portion of a traditional job.

Which brings me to end of this episode, and of course my favorite part, the challenge. So for the women, or men, that are listening, if you are interested in finding a flexible role, I challenge you to spend some time over the next week researching your options. To help you out, I'm going to give away the slides that I actually created as part of a webinar that I hosted called, How to Request and Find a Flexible Mom-Friendly Job.


    So these slides, they'll help you walk through the process at a high level. It was part of a webinar, but I won't be giving away the audio, just the slides. You'll get ... there's really good content on there, and you'll be able to see what my favorite resources are to find jobs, how to really think about what type of flexible job you want, and some additional advice. To access the slides, just visit activatepurpose.com/episode7. Again, that's activatepurpose.com/episode7. If you enjoyed today's episode, make sure to leave a review and subscribe to next's week episode.


    And lastly, if you have any questions at all, whether it's on the slides or you just want to get more insight into my experience, or again, some of the specifics about finding a flex job, or I get emails all the time from women who want more specifics, or help with their resume, or just someone else who understands what the process is like, feel free to email me at Victoria@activatepurpose.com.
    Until next time, have a wonderful day.

 

 

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Activate Purpose