In my book, Become the Fire: Transform Life’s Chaos into Business and Personal Success, I share 10 lessons that show success in career and life is not dependent on how smooth a path you have. It’s about mastering your own transformation – from being thrown into the fire to becoming the fire – every single day. By channeling the fire into your passion and purpose, you can change your life.
Here are four takeaways for moms so you, too, can go from dreaming to doing.
Get comfortable with being uncomfortable and kick impostor syndrome to the curb
You know the little voice inside your head that whispers things like, “I’m not qualified” or “What if I fail” or “I can’t do this”?
Those thoughts are part of impostor syndrome, the uncomfortable feeling that you are a fraud or a phony unworthy of success. So many moms deal with those self-limiting thoughts that make us doubt ourselves. We may think, “Who, me? I can’t do it!” To which I answer, “Why not you? You can do it!”
Just because something feels uncomfortable doesn’t mean you can’t do it. Feeling different – whether because of gender, parental status, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, ability or anything else – doesn’t have to be a disadvantage. In fact, your difference can be your superpower. Get comfortable with what makes you different – what makes you, you – and you’ll get comfortable with being uncomfortable, and be on your way to overcoming impostor syndrome.
To battle any fire that stands between you and your goal, you need to have self-confidence – the knowing inside of you that you’ve got this. It means even if you make a mistake, even if you fail, you will be OK. The more self-confident you are, the more you can be comfortable with being uncomfortable. And the more comfortable you are with discomfort, the more success you can achieve.
The self-confidence you need to excel at something is created over time, through experiences in which you can learn and grow and master a certain skill. Start small and accomplish achievable tasks – from organizing a kids’ activity to running a school fundraiser – to build up your ability and appetite for taking on bigger challenges. The more you succeed at the smaller stuff, the bigger the challenge you can tackle.
You realize that by stretching yourself, that’s where the growth is. You trust yourself to embrace opportunities, take greater risks and accomplish your goals – even if they’re outside your comfort zone. Then one day, you realize there’s nothing you can’t do when you set your mind to it. That’s self-confidence. That’s what leads to being comfortable in most any situation. And that’s when you’ve kicked impostor syndrome to the curb.
Become friends with failure through resilience
From health and parenting challenges to economic and relationship stressors and more, our ability to juggle everything life throws at us, and bounce back from setbacks, is constantly being tested. And fear of failure can stop us from trying.
But failure leads to success in everyday moments, by everyday people, doing everyday things. Children learn to walk by standing up, falling, getting up, taking a step, falling, getting up, taking another step — trying again and again until they’re walking across the room. Parents learn to calm babies by rocking them, feeding them, changing them, burping them, singing to them, reading to them — trying again and again until their babies are soothed.
All those times you have failed – whether at work or school, with your family or partner or in terms of what society expects of you – are times you have learned, adapted and grown. So, there’s no need to fear failure. It’s how we respond to failure that matters.
The key is resilience. The ability to bounce back from challenges, chaos and fire is critical along your journey. Prepare to flex in response to changes, stay agile and learn to pivot as you navigate your way through life. Failure means you tried something that didn’t happen to work. It’s when you decide to learn from what didn’t work, to bounce back and grow from the experience instead of retracting, that you become friends with failure. When you embrace failure as a lesson to learn from, rather than a mistake to run from, you are more likely to succeed.
We strengthen our resilience by realizing that, as humans, we are not perfect, by understanding that we will make mistakes, and by acknowledging that we will fail. Once we accept imperfection, mistakes and failure as part of life, we can use those experiences as the lessons they are, helping us improve and grow.
Side hustle your way to viability
If you have a business or creative idea but you’re not sure it will be viable (at least not right away), a good way to test it out is by starting it as a side hustle. A side hustle is something you do in addition to your main job or full-time career or parenthood. For example, some people side hustle as writers or artists, while others coach or consult. Then there are those who launch entire start-up companies as side hustles, using their main job’s income to bootstrap the new business.
Side hustles can be especially helpful if you want to stay at home with your kids, or if you can’t afford to leave your job to start a new business. A side hustle allows you to test drive a concept in your free time, to see if it has legs, while you raise your kids or before diving into entrepreneurship headfirst. A side hustle can be a part-time gig to generate extra income. Or if it takes off, you can decide to focus on it full-time.
When I started my first business, iParenting, my dream was that it would be something I could do part-time from home as I raised my family. But as the company grew and evolved, I had to move it from a side hustle to a full-time job. Yet by starting small, I was able to be home with my babies, test the waters and gauge the company’s viability – all before taking the leap into full-time entrepreneurship.
When inspiration struck again with my second business, 30Seconds, I followed a similar path. As a single mom, my kids were my priority. I worked intently at night and while they were in school so that when they were home, they got my full attention. I’m fortunate to have been able to structure my work life around my kids and to have had the support of my family. Parents are pulled in so many different directions, and childcare is often a costly necessity. That’s why starting your dream as a side hustle is something to seriously consider.
Overcome chaos and “work-life balance” challenges with passion and grit
You know when someone tells you something can’t be done, but you show them it can be done anyway? That’s grit, and it’s what kept me going as I was building my businesses.
As a young mom to three children, finding the sweet spot between work and parenting wasn’t easy. I found “work-life balance” to be an oxymoron. When I focused on work, family life was affected. When I turned my attention to family, I tipped the scale in the other direction. Maintaining equilibrium was an ongoing struggle and trying to keep the precarious balance took its toll on me. Like many moms, I was always putting myself last.
Some well-meaning friends suggested I give up on the business. The thinking was that, by not having a company to worry about, I would find more balance. But having birthed and grown my business, the thought of giving it up was unthinkable at the time.
Because I was so passionate about what I was doing, I stuck with it. Whether that meant taking an important call from a rocking chair in the nursery, jotting down ideas in line at the grocery store or combining business trips with family vacations, I found creative ways to further my goals. Grit helped me persist through the fires – even though that scale kept tipping.
Adjusting my mindset to “I can do it” often meant that I really could do it. With passion driving me, most of what I did helped to advance my mission.
Grit means being undaunted by mistakes, failures and fires, knowing you can bounce back. It’s seeing things to conclusion, even in the face of adversity. And if there’s a setback, it’s having the mental toughness to try again and again until you succeed.
One of the best answers I can give to those who ask me “How can I achieve success, too?” is this: do what you love, work harder than anyone else, be relentless and stick with it and success will follow. Because when you love what you do, you’ll be good at it. When you love what you do, you’ll be recognized for it. When you love what you do, you’ll be passionate about it. And that passion you feel means you’ll never “work” a day in your life.
Elisa Schmitz is the founder of 30Seconds.com, a digital media platform making life better for millions of unique users every month, and the author of the critically acclaimed book Become the Fire: Transform Life’s Chaos into Business and Personal Success. Follow her on Instagram @elisaschmitzauthor.
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