By Michele Dortch
A lot of working moms are in a rut. Every day it's the same chaotic and rushed routine — kids, job, housework, etc. Because of your life's frantic pace you eventually lose sight of where you're going...life starts to lose its zeal. Instead of pursuing worthwhile dreams, you wander through the circumstances of life. Of course, there are moments of true joy and fulfillment but you're too distracted to really appreciate these momentary treasures, let alone notice them.
Eventually, you wake up and realize that despite everything that says you should be happy (healthy kids, a beautiful home, a great job, etc.), you're miserable. Why? Because somewhere along your journey through working motherhood you let go of your dream. You stopped believing that the things you pursued with such passion before kids are actually possible now that you have kids. After all, the demands of your children, your job, and your lifestyle leave little time to focus on chasing idle dreams, right?
Here's the wake up call fellow working moms: Your Dreams Are Important. No matter how wild, audacious or bold they may be, your dreams are the key to unlocking harmony in your work/life. When you experience imbalance in your work/life it's usually because your outer world (things you have, what you do, etc.) doesn't line up with your inner world (your dreams, passion, values, etc.). So if you ever hope to truly integrate work and life, you've got to shift the balance and start dreaming.
But it takes more than just having the dream. You're got to pursue it; you've got to dare to do more than dream. Not sure how to move from dreaming to daring? Here are three simple strategies for clarifying and then acting on your dream.
STEP 1. Reaffirm your dream
For most of you, it's been a long time since you considered what you really wanted from life. Instead, you're bombarded with messages from the media, your friends, family, and boss that tell you what you should want — "thinner thighs in 7 days," "more time with your kids," "more money." These external messages never end and they're loud — much louder than your internal voice that longs to be heard. Today is the day to listen to that small inner voice and reaffirm YOUR dream.
Grab a few sheets of blank paper or your journal, and spend the next 15-20 minutes putting your dream down in writing. Make a list of everything YOU want. What would you do if you had no excuses? What makes your heart sing? What would you want, if you could have anything and you couldn't fail?
At this point, "how" you'll achieve your dream isn't as important as declaring what it is you truly want. Just write.
STEP 2. Believe in your dream
For most working moms, the one thing holding you back from achieving harmony in your work/life is believing that you can actually have it. Your beliefs can either hold you captive or free you to achieve whatever you want. Let me share a personal example to help explain this idea.
I've wanted to be a published author since I was a young girl. Faced with the decision to choose a major in college, I shared this dream with my parents. The idea was shot down (lovingly, of course) and I was instilled with the belief that authors don't make money and live miserly lives. This belief has kept me from pursuing a writing career for years. Whenever my inner voice reminds me of my dream, I come up with a million reasons why I can't go for it. To move past this, I needed to clear my beliefs about being an author.
There are many ways to get clear of past beliefs. Here's one that I like in particular. You'll need two sheets of paper to begin.
On one sheet of paper describe the negative beliefs you have about a particular area of your life. Paint a vivid picture and really get into the emotions of it. Set the sheet aside.On a second sheet of paper write the beliefs you want to hold about that same area of your life. Immerse yourself in the positive, joyful feelings associated with it.Review your first sheet, and then burn it. Keep the second sheet in a place where you can read it daily, as a reminder of what you've chosen to believe.
I know it seems simple, maybe even weird, but I've tried it and it works. This exercise demonstrates a physical way to let go of negative beliefs that keep you from daring to do more than dream.
STEP 3. Take inspired action every day
To achieve your dream, you've got to do more than think about it and believe in it. You've got to act on it! Now, let's say your dream is to quit your full-time corporate job and feed your passion (and people's bellies) with your very own bakery. The leap from corporate cog to baker/business owner seems HUGE and often this is where most working moms give up. The impossibility of the dream is much too overwhelming.
The key to achieving your dream is to take "inspired action." In his book, The Attractor Factor: 5 Easy Steps for Creating Wealth (or Anything Else) from the Inside Out, Joe Vitale describes this as "any action you take based on an inside nudge." We've all experienced it. Inspired action happens when you suddenly feel a desire to stop everything and call your child's school to make sure everything is okay. You may not have any idea why you got this inner prompting, but you know you have to do it.
If you want to achieve your work/life dream, then learn to take inspired action. Usually it means doing things differently. It means following an unexplainable hunch. It means having trust even though you don't know exactly what you're being led to do. It means taking action, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, to finally get out of your rut. You've got to move to get unstuck; you've got to take inspired action.
Dare to do more than dream. You have more control over your work/life than you think. Yes, there will be challenges to face and sometimes you'll feel like you're pursuing a hopeless dream. Yet isn't it much better to pursue your dreams (an action filled with hope, inspiration and joy) rather than complain about your circumstances (a behavior filled with negativity, despair and hopelessness)? Make a decision to do things differently. Make a decision to dare to do more than just dream about the work/life you want.
(My Dream Update: As of this writing, I am ACTIVELY pursuing my dream to be a published author and will release my first book in May 2007. Look out for it!)
By Michele Dortch of The Integrated Mother, a nationwide coaching and professional development company providing work/life solutions for working mothers, and their employers. Visit www.integratedmother.com to sign up for a free Work/Life Makeover Kit.
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