What would it feel like if at this time next year you looked back at how you lived your 2018 and said, “That was a wild awesome ride, let’s do it again!”?
I invite you to put away the resolutions for a minute and stop listening to the troll on your shoulder dancing around mocking all your bad habits, failures and what needs to be changed. Instead think about one dream that you’ve always said ‘someday you’re going to do’ and imagine accomplishing it in 2018.
You see your dreams are like the pea in the Princess and the Pea fairytale. There’s a mile-high stack of old mattresses on top of that pea. You shouldn’t be able to feel it anymore, but yet it’s still there.
I call this whisper of dreams the Desire Effect™ and it’s the marriage between yourself and life. Even if you hid your deepest desires away they’re still there in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, and for better or worse. They never leave because they’re the key to your true happiness, self-esteem, and a life lived without regret, yet they are covered everyday with another mattress. This marriage with your desires may be the least nurtured relationship in your life.
Your desires are the most powerful allies in being able to live the life you’re meant to live and to break the desire/regret cycle, yet most people will die never having let the desires come to full effect.
Most of this has happened subconsciously. Once you understand it, well then it does become your responsibility to change it. So decide if you’d like to take control of your life and throw off all those mattresses before you read on, because what I’m about to tell you will leave you in control and some people would prefer the excuses. They’d rather leave their lives in the hands of programs and gurus, doctors, and bosses, bad relationships, and blame, because there’s a part of their brain that says, “We’re safe. We don’t like discomfort.” Seventy-five percent of the population is motivated by external forces: praise from others; fear of pain; fear of being reprimanded; love from others, etc. So oftentimes you make decisions based on what society will deem success and right.
So are you ready to see what those external forces have done to you?
Let’s take a little journey together.
Everyone starts with dreams and desires. Little kids imagine what their lives will look like. They dream big. Every adult has a list of, “Some day I’m going to_____.” So imagine you’re standing at a split in a road with a huge mountain in front of you.
That mountain looks steep and rocky. You’re holding a treasure chest of all your dreams.
When you look to the right you see the people in your life. They’re urging you to follow the path they’ve taken or want you to take. “You want to be a dancer? That’s silly. Barely anyone makes it and you don’t have the body. You want to be a writer? I wanted to be a writer but it’s not practical. An artist? Well maybe if you go into graphic arts. Sail the world? Everyone wants to travel, but then it’s time to realize that life doesn’t turn out the way you want and it’s what happens when you’re making other plans.”
All these external voices are coming at you telling you what you should be. Many of these voices are well intentioned. These people love you and they don’t want to see you fail. Their personal fears and experiences are placed upon you. Add in the media and all the propaganda you’re fed about what makes a successful life and there’s a constant bombardment battling with your dreams aka the mattresses on top of the pea.
Let’s turn away for a moment and look at the left split in the road—the chance to follow your desires. This path is terrifying. There’s very little data on how it will work out, because it’s a unique path, one that only you can take and no one else has ever done. There’s no map, no one to take your hand and say, “See this is how it will end up.”
So you take the path on the right. At first it works out well. You see the design in front of you, and you know the goals. You work hard to get there. Yet underneath, The Desire Effect™, keeps haunting you like that little pea that won’t allow you to sleep comfortably. Suddenly life, even if it looks perfect on the outside, starts feeling like a chore and resentment builds along with unhappiness. The stress compounds and the psyche yearns for release. Food, alcohol, social media attention, fighting with loved ones, creating drama that gives you a boost of brain chemicals, all create bad patterns that are hard to break. You begin to zone out; to get away for one minute from the life you’ve built by binge watching television or just shutting down.
Ultimately you need an outside force to break you from this pattern and you see commercials for workout systems, diets, financial programs, counseling, coaching, etc. They give you a new vision of what will make you happy, and forward momentum happens as you get an endorphin rush based on a future results. The feeling is fleeting, failure starts to be debilitating and once again you start to simply make it through the day.
By the end of most people’s lives they look back and wonder, where did all my dreams go? Where is my health? My life? Oh well this is just the truth of living.
But it’s the biggest lie ever told.
What if instead, you got off of the right path and stepped into the unknown. It’s scary, your brain and that troll are going to tell you it’s impossible. You can’t remember your dreams anymore, or you can, but they aren’t practical. You have responsibilities. You like your life. There’s no real reason to complain. There isn’t enough money.
But what if you could climb the Appalachian Trail? Or take a month off and live in Italy? Or write that novel? Or learn to dance? Or whatever your pea has been whispering for so long.
Let’s take an imaginary stroll down the left path. There’s excitement and fear wrapped together because it means so much to go after your dreams and you don’t know if you have what it takes to do it. You take the first small steps and think, “Well at least if I fail I’ll know I tried, but to fail would hurt so much because I want this badly.”
And then you do fail. It’s inevitable. It happens, yet instead of running back to the right path you realize you’ve started to climb the steep mountain and didn’t even notice. You learn from the failure and decide, “Hey it hurt, I fell, but I’m still okay.” Your confidence goes up.
Suddenly there’s a desire to be healthier because you want to climb this mountain faster and your diet and workouts are chosen to enhance what you’re doing. You begin to make financial decisions not based on stuff, but on a life well–lived with meaning and experiences. You realize if you’re out of debt or make more money you’ll have freedom to have more dreams, more fun, and you start making better decisions. Suddenly the view of the top of the mountain comes into sight and you’re not even breathing hard. You notice that you’ve been meeting like-minded people who also chose the unknown path and you’re happier in your relationships. The regret is gone.
You reach the top of the mountain, with a few bruises, a few healed injuries, but as you summit you see a whole world before you that wasn’t visible at the original crossroads and you realize that this one dream that you took a chance on has led you to a huge life. There’s no longer time for zoning out, or binge watching television or all those things that allowed you to escape. You need at least five lifetimes because there’s so much to explore.
Do you still want to make that resolution based on changing what you dislike about yourself?
Want to step onto the unknown path? Don’t know where to start? Take the Dream Survey to see where you stand with your Desire Effect™. Join our Facebook group A Year of Dreams and like our Page Dare to Dream/ Marci Nault for a year of inspiration and support. Only in dreaming can you see how magnificent your life is meant to be. Make 2018 the year you settle for nothing less than magnificence.
New parents re-entering the workforce are often juggling the tangible realities of daycare logistics, sleep deprivation, and a cascade of overwhelming work. No matter how parents build their family, they often struggle with the guilt of being split between home and work and not feeling exceptionally successful in either place.
Women building their families often face a set of challenges different from men. Those who have had children biologically may be navigating the world of pumping at work. Others might feel pulled in multiple directions when bringing a child into their home after adoption. Some women are trying to learn how to care for a newborn for the first time. New parents need all the help they can get with their transition.
Women returning to work after kids sometimes have to address comments such as:
"I didn't think you'd come back."
"You must feel so guilty."
"You missed a lot while you were out."
To counteract this difficult situation, women are finding mentors and making targeting connections. Parent mentors can help new moms address integrating their new life realities with work, finding resources within the organization and local community, and create connections with peers.
There's also an important role for parent mentors to play in discussing career trajectory. Traditionally, men who have families see more promotions compared to women with children. Knowing that having kids may represent a career setback for women, they may work with their mentors to create an action plan to "back on track" or to get recognized for their contributions as quickly as possible after returning to work.
Previously, in a bid to accommodate mothers transitioning back to work, corporate managers would make a show at lessoning the workload for newly returned mothers. This approach actually did more harm than good, as the mother's skills and ambitions were marginalized by these alleged "family friendly" policies, ultimately defining her for the workplace as a mother, rather than a person focused on career.
Today, this is changing. Some larger organizations, such as JP Morgan Chase, have structured mentorship programs that specifically target these issues and provide mentors for new parents. These programs match new parents navigating a transition back to work with volunteer mentors who are interested in helping and sponsoring moms. Mentors in the programs do not need to be moms, or even parents, themselves, but are passionate about making sure the opportunities are available.
It's just one other valuable way corporations are evolving when it comes to building quality relationships with their employees – and successfully retaining them, empowering women who face their own set of special barriers to career growth and leadership success.
Mentoring will always be a two way street. In ideal situations, both parties will benefit from the relationship. It's no different when women mentor working mothers getting back on track on the job. But there a few factors to consider when embracing this new form of mentorship
How to be a good Momtor?
Listen: For those mentoring a new parent, one of the best strategies to take is active listening. Be present and aware while the mentee shares their thoughts, repeat back what you hear in your own words, and acknowledge emotions. The returning mother is facing a range of emotions and potentially complicated situations, and the last thing she wants to hear is advice about how she should be feeling about the transition. Instead, be a sounding board for her feelings and issues with returning to work. Validate her concerns and provide a space where she can express herself without fear of retribution or bull-pen politics. This will allow the mentee a safe space to sort through her feelings and focus on her real challenges as a mother returning to work.
Share: Assure the mentee that they aren't alone, that other parents just like them are navigating the transition back to work. Provide a list of ways you've coped with the transition yourself, as well as your best parenting tips. Don't be afraid to discuss mothering skills as well as career skills. Work on creative solutions to the particular issues your mentee is facing in striking her new work/life balance.
Update Work Goals: A career-minded woman often faces a new reality once a new child enters the picture. Previous career goals may appear out of reach now that she has family responsibilities at home. Each mentee is affected by this differently, but good momtors help parents update her work goals and strategies for realizing them, explaining, where applicable, where the company is in a position to help them with their dreams either through continuing education support or specific training initiatives.
Being a role model for a working mother provides a support system, at work, that they can rely on just like the one they rely on at home with family and friends. Knowing they have someone in the office, who has knowledge about both being a mom and a career woman, will go a long way towards helping them make the transition successfully themselves.