Christian. Working. Mom. | Susan DiMickele
All posts tagged Work
Most of us want to raise grateful children. I’m convinced this desire is universal among my generation of parents. We don’t want to raise kids with an entitlement mentality. We want to teach them the value of sacrifice and hard work. We don’t want out kids to be spoiled or ungrateful.
It’s a constant struggle that none of us has perfected.
We scramble to limit TV intake and material consumption. We try to teach our children about those less fortunate. We say things like, “When I was your age, we never went out to restaurants. And I always had to clean my plate!”
Yet I am convinced we’re missing a simple part of the equation. A piece well within our control.
Grateful Parents = Grateful Children
Of course, there are exceptions to this rule. But too often we blame society – including media, technology, and peers – and we fail to look in the mirror. We fail to see that our own dissatisfaction models a culture of discontent among our children. We fail to see that the reverse equation is likewise true.
Ungrateful Parents = Ungrateful Children
Let’s face it, kids are smart. Show me an ungrateful parent, and I will show you an ungrateful child.
In Powered By Happy, Executive Beth Thomas argues that grateful employees receive more promotions and greater opportunities at work. And she also encourages us to model this gratitude at home. For example, she encourages us to include gratitude in our daily rituals – like going around the dinner table and saying one thing we are grateful for each day.
There are some people in this world who choose gratitude over and over again. My mother is one of these people, and I’m convinced her example is likely the primary reason I have a positive outlook on life. As I prepare for Mother’s Day, I am especially thankful that my mother is a woman of gratitude.
I want to be this same example for my children. Don’t you?
Every once in awhile, I feel like I must drastically change my life in order to achieve any sense of balance. It’s usually after a particularly stressful period at work combined with an equally stressful period at home. I inevitably announce to my husband in a moment of sheer panic that I must change everything. Immediately. This includes selling our home, moving out to the country, and finding a stress-free occupation like raising chickens.
Do you ever feel like you must make drastic changes in order to deal with the constant stress of the daily grind? That life is just too complicated, and you must change everything to regain your sanity?
Last summer, I was in such a funk. I didn’t know if I could continue with the status quo, so I told a good friend and trusted colleague: “I just don’t know if I can do this anymore.”
His response caught me unexpected. He didn’t tell me to throw in the towel and relent. But he also didn’t tell me to suck it up and await my misery to subside. Instead, he educated me about while I’ll call the “10% Rule.”
It’s really quite simple.
He went on to explain that it’s 10-20% of life that puts us over the edge. Usually, we make the mistake of thinking we must change everything. That it’s all or nothing – either I’m a high-powered attorney in the city working 24/7, or I’m raising chickens in the country and living off the grid.
But reality doesn’t work that way.
In reality, about 10% of my life is stressing me out. I don’t really need to attend every parent meeting, be on the 10-person conference call, or hop on a plane on Sunday evening. And it I tweak this10%, life will become much simpler – and manageable. It makes me think about my friend Maria who said “no” to a client last Easter Monday. Instead of jumping on a plane and missing her family celebration on Sunday afternoon, she insisted on pushing an out- of-town meeting to Monday afternoon. And she saved herself some stress in the process without compromising her work or her family obligations.
What a relief. It makes so much sense.
Most of us would be miserable if we completely abandoned life as we know it. Yet we’ve bought into a lie that it’s all or nothing – that we can’t achieve balance unless we completely throw in the towel and give up.
Have you considered tweaking the 10% of life that is stressing you out? If not, make a list of what pushes you to the tipping point. Commit to change that 10% before it pushes you over the edge!
[For the record, I would be miserable raising chickens, and I don’t mean to suggest it’s not stressful work. My father raised chickens during The Depression and he tells me it’s much worse than sitting behind a desk!]
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I’ve gotten into the habit of striving to be gender-neutral at work. Nobody told me to do this, it just sort of happened.
I think it started after I had kids. Given the lack of women in leadership at large law firms, I figured I’d have to downplay my mommyhood to get ahead. So my appointment at the pediatrician’s office became “important meeting with client”on my calendar. I became an expert in using the mute button on my mobile phone and quieting noisy children. I took great care not to complain at work about sick kids or daycare drama.
But somewhere in the process, something else happened. Somewhere, deep down, I started to apologize for my gender. Sometimes, this apologetic tone is overt – like my unsolicited confession that I am leaving the office early to pick up my daughter at piano. “I know I’m leaving early today, but my sitter has to study for exams. I’ll be in early tomorrow morning.” Even though I’m a partner and theoretically my own boss, I still feel the need to explain my actions — and to seek pardon from the entire office.
But usually, my apologies are more subtle, even unintentional. Like when I get up in the morning and get dressed for work: while my favorite leopard-skin blazer is calling me, instead, I reach into the closet for black and grey. The subliminal fashion police are telling me to appear neutral, especially if there is an important meeting scheduled. Besides, my sixth-grade son recently announced that leopard-skin clothing is not “professional.” I decide to blend in.
I’ve even assumed at times, wrongly, than my gender is a disadvantage in business. While women make up over 46% of the workforce, it’s no secret that women struggle to hold the highest positions in management. Only 4 in 10 businesses worldwide have women in senior management, and women earn less than men in 99 % of all occupations. By saying gender matters, am I just perpetuating these trends?
I was talking with a good friend who is ready to quit her job. Her goal for 2013? It’s simple: get a new job!
Many of you can relate. In fact, most workers are not satisfied in their jobs. The Human Capital Institute reports that 75% of working Americans are unhappy at work!
But let’s think about this in terms of growth, not goals. As I wrestled with my own goals for 2013, I came across an amazing revelation. I need to improve myself, not just my job or position.
John Maxwell explains this concept in The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth. Maxwell suggests that maybe it’s time to stop setting goals. “You must figure out what works for you, but I’ll be glad to tell you what has worked for me. Instead of being goal conscious, I focus on being growth conscious.” (Emphasis added, p. 79)
While goals focus on a destination, growth focuses on the journey. Goals are temporary and stop upon achievement. Growth is life long and continuous. Goals check a “box” while growth consistently measures value.
In practical terms, what’s the difference? Let’s say I want to find a new job this year.
- Get a new job by June 30
The emphasis is on changing my circumstances. Success or failure is defined by external change, something that’s not completely within my control. Once June 30 arrives (regardless of the outcome), the goal is over. (Note that I can improve this goal by making it more specific – like defining the type of job I want to secure, but by making the goal about the job the emphasis is on the external, not the internal.)
- Improve my talent and reach to position myself for a new professional opportunity.
The emphasis is on changing me, not my circumstances. Because this goal is admittedly vague, it’s going to require a plan with action steps. Like learning new skills, building new relationships, and leveraging my professional network. But success or failure is within my control. I don’t know when that new professional opportunity will present itself, but I know that I’ll be well-positioned and ready! By making the goal about me and not the job, the emphasis is on the internal, not the external.
I realize that the above mindset won’t apply to every situation – especially where the workplace is toxic or where change is a necessary predecessor to growth. But in most cases, a professional focus on growth – on improving ourselves rather than improving our jobs – will bring the greatest reward, both personally and professionally.
“If you can believe in yourself and the potential that is in you, and then focus on growth instead of goals, there’s not telling how far you can grow.” (Maxwell, p. 81)
Do you want a new job in 2013? Check out The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth for some amazing tips!