Sometimes capable and smart working women end up in seasons of life that suck. Seasons where they are not living up to their abilities or potential. Seasons that are hard and undesirable.
Life is like that.
We might be cruising through life driving 65 when a twist in the road throws us off course and into adversity. The twist may be a health diagnosis, a financial setback, a company downsizing that eliminates our position, or, as in Margit’s case, (our inspiring story) a relationship put an abrupt halt to her career success.
What do working women do when life throws us lemons?
Do we need to stay stuck in hard and challenging adversity? For the answer check out Margit’s Inspiring Story:
“I went from a prestigious, high paying sales career to making $10 an hour working at a liquor store in just a couple years. The downward spiral of my financial life was fueled by my husband, whose poor financial decisions were bringing us both down. I left my career to be closer to home and ended up taking the job at the liquor store.
My husband’s spending habits blew through my reserves and quickly put us in a situation where we were broke. There was not enough money to even buy toilet paper and our meals were often off the dollar menu at McDonald’s. I couldn’t believe that in a very short time I had gone from the top of the world to the depths of despair, yet, I was optimistic. I knew this current life was not my future and I knew I needed to make a change.”
Working woman’s success can mean a fresh start
“I started by connecting back in with business people who were progressing, on the move, successful. They introduced me to other achievers and through this new network of people I gleaned the inspiration I needed to turn my life around. I landed a new job, moved out on my own and got divorced.
From that point forward, my life has been on an increasingly upward trajectory. I have had the opportunity to advance even further in my career. My network continues to expand. I am financially self-sufficient and very much in control of my future. I am very proud of the decisions I have made over the past years and how I have turned my life around.”
Adversity influences where you will go in life
Reflection: Do you wish your adversity had never happened; or are you grateful it did?
“When I got married and quit my sales career to spend more time at home, initially I was content. I enjoyed the season of not traveling so much and I enjoyed the companionship with my husband. Then, when life got hard, I just snapped out of it. It was almost like a light bulb went off or a spark ignited and once it did, things improved quickly. It was probably the pain of being broke that motivated me the most. So yes, adversity has influenced where I am today.”
Working women own their skills
When seasons of life throw us curve balls we have to remember as working women that we always own our skills and credentials. The key to Margit’s quick recovery was that even though she was not using her skills and training to full potential while working at the liquor store, she still had them and no economic situation takes them away. When the time was right, and she was ready to re-engage in her career, her past training and abilities led the way."As working women, we always own our skills and credentials."-Pearl Galbraith Click To Tweet
This also happened to a friend of mine. While her husband’s business was thriving, she enjoyed the luxury of not working as a school teacher, but when the economy took a turn and they ended up desperate for cash, her teaching degree was a Godsend. She went back into the school system and her paycheck and benefits were a lifesaver for the family.
Both Margit and my friend had specialized training which helped them overcome their challenges. Below are several more ways to succeed during difficult times.
10 Lemon Crushing Career Principles to Help Working Women Overcome Adversity
1. Become a Specialist
Regardless of what you do: learn to do specific skills at your job very, very well. Today’s job market pays more attention to the “skills” you deliver over your “title.” For extra credit, focus on the skills in your job that are most valued. The more valuable your “skills,” the more compensation you set yourself up to earn.
2. Pursue Higher Education with Purpose.
Be very selective of what degree or area of study you pursue. Education is far too expensive to waste your money on general knowledge.
3. Understand and Accept the Seasons of Life
As working women, we cannot be all things to all people, all the time. When I had toddlers underfoot, I aligned my career to complement being “mom” as well as “VP.” I limited travel; I said no to all extracurricular activities (regardless of how worthy); my husband and I intentionally chose our lifestyle to serve the season of life we were in.
Today, with grown kids, my season has changed, allowing me to manage multiple projects and a non-profit. If you don’t align your life to the season you are in, you are setting yourself, and your loved ones, up for chaos.
4. Better Jobs and Opportunities Are Outside of Your Comfort Zone
We love settling in comfortable careers, but, if you choose to settle for your comfortable current job role and do not stretch your abilities, you will not advance your career. Life happens outside of your comfort zone. If you are not learning, pushing yourself, and advancing your skills, you will find two things will commonly occur.
The first is that you will not grow; the second is others who are advancing themselves will pass you by, or possibly even replace you.
5. Understand your Money
We all know how to spend money, but we have little knowledge as to how to save it and leverage it to our benefit. Take control of your money. Know how you earn it; be persistent in getting paid what you are worth; know how to budget; understand how taxation works. For each dollar you save in taxes; it is like another dollar earned.
Why we work is for our paycheck. Educate yourself on money management and your future self will thank you.
6. Set up Multiple Streams of Income
Each one of us is at risk of losing our primary source of income. It may vanish due to our incompetence, a medical crisis, economic conditions or technology changes. A smart woman would be establishing a side stream of income, (known as a “side hustle”) long before she may ever need it. A side hustle can be a great source of generating additional income; it can spur you to learn a new skill; it can fund a vacation, and one day it may even become your primary source of income."Establish a Plan B to Protect your Plan A."-Pearl Galbraith Click To Tweet
7. Forced Career Versus Freedom Career
In my practice, I talk about two phases of work. Our “forced career” phase is when we don’t have a choice. We need to generate income to pay our bills and stay afloat financially. If we manage our “forced career” well and stash money off to the side for the future, in what I call a “financial garden,” we can set up ourselves to transition from a “forced career” to a “freedom career.” Our “freedom career” reflects the title. It is a time in life where we can do what we love. We can work if we choose; we can volunteer, travel, or pursue the career our heart desires.
How is this possible?
The transition occurs when and if the financial garden is large enough to sustain lifestyle needs. If you have financial resources in a financial garden that you can harvest from annually to pay your expenses, and if you set that garden up to be sustainable (that means you can continue to harvest from that garden year after year) you can then transition from your “forced” to your “freedom” career, and set your alarm clock for any time you like!
8. Higher Paying Jobs Promote More Happiness…only to a point
A study in 2010 of over 450,000 people conducted by the Gallup organization found that higher wages increased happiness only up to an annual wage of $75K. What does the study mean to us? It shows us that making less money adds stress to individuals and is cause for low emotional wellbeing, dissatisfaction in life and unhappiness.
We all understand the challenges of not having enough money to meet our needs. However, making more money does not proportionally mean a happier life. As stated, the study found that happiness and income topped at $75K. That means if you are driven to increase your income and anticipate that more income will make you a happier person, that is shown to be inaccurate.
Happiness derives from having enough money to pay your bills, but it also comes from doing work of value and purpose. If you are driven to change jobs, simply for more pay, consider your motivation and how a change may impact all areas of your life.
There is no conversation more draining for me than to speak with someone who hates the work they do. Life is too short to spend time in a job that drains your energy, excitement, and passion.
9. Never Stop Learning. Never, never, never, stop learning.
Our brain is built to learn. Start a hobby; take a class; read a book; sign up for Toastmasters; learn to dance; raise your hand for a project at work; be a volunteer in an area where you do not have expertise; travel. My mantra is “I want to die young; at a very old age.” Continuous learning is a wonderful tool to keep your brain young.
10. Working Women Embrace Change.
A generation ago, settling in your job or career was often normal, anticipated, and generally risk-free. That is no longer the case in our technologically advanced world. I am confident that most of the systems you use today in your job, will be replaced in 10 years. Newer, more technologically advanced processes will be part of your job role, and if you want to stay engaged, relevant, and valued, learning and using these processes will be a necessity. Embrace the change that is to come.
We will all face seasons of life where things are more difficult; but a season does not need to define us nor, as Margit’s example showed, do we need to stay stuck there.
For more on making Lemonade Out of Lemons you would love Pearl’s book Lemon Crushers; A Working Woman’s Guide to Overcoming Adversity! There are stories about the qualities for success and overcoming your challenges. You’ll be ready to start crushing lemons after chapter one.
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