I have read so much lately regarding the “Mommy Wars” which pits the Stay at Home Moms vs Working Moms. Just this week an article in New York Magazine, “The Retro Wife,” reports that women are choosing to leave the workplace to care for children. Conversely, Sheryl Sandberg’s book, “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead,” encourages women to advocate for themselves in their careers so they can move up to key leadership positions. Mix in Yahoo’s relinquishment of their telecommuting programs and now work-place flexibility is added to the conversation as well. Women seemingly continue to reflect on the truism of “having it all” and the struggle of work-life balance. The topic seems as fresh today as it was 10 years ago. What is a mom to do? How do we teach and coach our daughters for their future paths? If I am conflicted by the messages I see and read, how in the world do I help my high school daughter plan her life and career path so that it makes sense for her? I want to be a good role model for my children both in motherhood and career. I want to instill ambition, morality, integrity, accomplishment, balance and faith in them. So, here is some of the dinner table advice I am passing on to her:
1. Study a skill set that, based on your passions and talents, you can earn a living as well as enjoy your life. With a skill degree versus a generic degree, you can leave and return into the work place based on your life needs. Examples of skill set degrees include accounting, nursing, graphic artist, web designer, architect, engineer, to name a few. A specific skill set versus a very generic degree such as marketing, history, or general business, will allow more flexibility in a career path as well as hopefully ease the task of getting a job right out of school.
2. A career choice is not a straight line. We used to think a career was 40 years at the same job with pension, retirement and a gold watch. But the workplace has changed and that has freed workers to change as well. Some believe you should change careers every seven years so you don’t get bored and you can stay fresh. That’s not practical for all of us, but odds are you will change your feelings about work at least that often. Be open to opportunities and adapt to change. Your first job out of school will not be your last.
3. Be your own thinker and advocate. My daughter is playing on a club volleyball team and with 12 teenage girls and two female coaches, well, that is a lot of hormones and personalities! What better place to learn life lessons such as self advocacy skills, positive confrontational skills as well as interpersonal skills. I have explained to her that in life, there will always be the challenging teacher or boss, th back stabbing student, or manipulative co-worker who steals your project. The opportunity is in how you handle the situation and stand up for yourself.
4. Read, read, read. Read for enjoyment, personal growth, news, and knowledge. Reading will help you learn, see what your competition is doing, know what your customers want, discover what opportunities may exist for you, and what are the developing tends are. Reading journals, blogs, books, newspapers and links are a valuable source of daily news, research, entertainment and growth. Reading for pleasure will instill inspiration, imagination, and empathy. Read, read, read…
5. Breathe – without guilt. Taking a few minutes out of your day will provide respite and perspective. Sometimes the best place to find inspiration, perspective, enthusiasm or direction in your life is outside of the hectic pace. A new Stanford University study says that contemplating a breathtaking image can make it seem like you have more time on your hands. Life may seem a little longer, slower and fuller by taking a few minutes to admire the view.
These are just starting points of converstation for us. What other advice would you offer to your daughter?
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