If you're also an exhausted, big-dream-having foster/adoptive/special needs parent, I see you. I know what it’s like to feel overwhelmed by the responsibilities of coordinating care and showing up for my kids day in and day out, while also having this sparkle of desire in my heart to make something happen FOR ME professionally speaking. It's totally possible, though, and this post is intended as a note of encouragement as well as some insight into how I've been able to do it.
First of all, you need a fundamental understanding that IT’S NEVER THE WRONG TIME TO THRIVE. You’re allowed to want both, and it’s totally possible to be an AWESOME parent and be successful in your career.
Everyone is different, and I'll never be the one telling another person how to grieve, cope or process the difficult parts of special needs parenting, but I will say this: you've got to listen to the little voice inviting you to be BRAVE.
I had a powerful moment of realization about 9 months after my kids came to me by way of foster care. I realized that I was using them as a crutch; I was allowing myself to hide behind the drama and chaos, because I was afraid of failing. I was ducking my dream of getting my business off the ground and basically using my two sweet kids as an excuse that no one could ever call me out on.
Who's ever going to tell a foster mom who's busting her butt to meet everyone's needs that she should really be trying harder? No one was ever going to kick my butt about not chasing my dreams. For all anyone else could tell, my dreams changed when my schedule changed. For all anyone else could tell, I was barely keeping up with all the demands of my time and energy and basic sanity.
But I knew the secret: my bandwidth was bigger than I was letting on, or at least had the potential to be bigger with some adjustments of focus and priority (...and before you panic, my kids were NEVER removed as the #1 focus and priority). My dreams hadn't changed, I just knew that in order to achieve them I would have to step up in a bigger way than I ever had before and that was freaking scary.
The "come to Jesus moment" was the understanding that if I didn't take a stand for my professional vision, nobody else would and it's not because they don't care... it's because parenting in situations like this paints a picture to the outside world that it would be the wrong time to do anything else.
But in our heart of heart of hearts... we know better. :)
“It’s never the wrong time to thrive.” has become my mantra. Having a lot on your plate doesn’t make it a weird/bad/wrong time to start a business, or chase your career dreams.
As my business has grown, I’m starting to be in the flattering but weird situation of getting the “How are you doing this?!” question more and more often when I’m out and about, especially from those who have been along for the ride since I was first getting started.
“Do you have a full time nanny?” Nope.
“Is your husband handling the foster care stuff now?” Nope.
"Have your children fully processed their physical and emotional trauma and healed completely to the point where things have just plain settled the F down?" Hahaha - thanks for asking. Nope. (This is a fake question that I've never been asked included here for comedic purposes.)
This is my answer, and I hope this feels like a note of encouragement by bringing a realization that there’s nothing “special” about me that you don’t have. YOU CAN DO IT TOO if that’s what you want.
ANSWER: I protect my calendar and my brain from unnecessary drama and focus my attention on the things that will actually create ROI instead of just help me feel like I crossed something off a list.
Beyond team work and self care (so important, but also not all it takes to chase career dreams and be a fully present special needs parent), what I’ve learned is that my business does not need 100% of my time, as some of the startup/entrepreneur advice-givers have suggested. It does, however, need 100% of my focus in the time I’ve designated for it, and for that focus to be on the right things.That’s what it takes: not some super-human ability to be amazing all the time. I am NOT a super human. You don't need 100 hours per day; you just need fully focused attention on the things that will actually impact the bottom line.
I’m a person who believes that there’s not a wrong time to shine your light, and that stepping out in faith (in yourself, in the process, in a higher power; ultimately: faith in something that is real and powerful to YOU) - even in the middle of chaos - is a gesture the Universe honors with an outpouring of support and resources. Faith and focus create magic.
Even when it feels like everything else is out of your control (which it IS!), faith and focus are always in your control. If it’s what you want, you ABSOLUTELY CAN do it!
Here for the first time?
About the Author: Andrea Flack-Wetherald is the creator of The Art of Confrontation™, an online class empowering overwhelmed people with improv skills to master the skills of self-advocacy, boundary stetting, and giving and receiving feedback so they can take more control of their career path.
She's also the owner of &Beyond, a leadership development and corporate culture consultancy that uses the philosophy and techniques found in improvised comedy and mindfulness practice to help leaders create cultures that reflect their good intentions, and ultimately attract, engage and retain fantastic employees as they grow.
This is a really good day.
It has nothing to do with what's on your calendar or what's not; or where you're going or where you're not; or who you'll be with our who you won't.
Today you are CAPABLE of handling everything that comes at you. <3
Today you are COURAGEOUS enough to stand in your integrity, respond with authenticity and listen to your scene partners even if you don't totally know where this thing is headed.
Today you are WILLING to do the work; to be fully present in the current moment; to choose curiosity instead of judgement.
Today you are WORTHY of love (from yourself AND others), worthy of your big dreams, worthy of being kind to yourself, worthy of enjoying what is around you, worthy of connecting deeply with the scene partners who are improvising alongside you.
This day will be what you let it be, so let it be wonderful. Let your heart be anchored to this bigger truth all day long, no matter what is coming your way. You, my friend, are capable, courageous, willing & worthy.
Before you quit your job, or start scrolling through Indeed looking for something different, watch this 30-minute recording from our most recent Facebook Live. Maybe a transition into a different company (or a different career path as a whole!) is ultimately the path of your greatest joy and fulfillment... but very rarely are we able to determine the next right steps without doing these things first.
Key Take Aways: If you'd like to get unstuck in your current situation, find a path that suits you quickly, and be assured that your next steps are what ultimately serve you (read: you're on a GOOD path, not just a DIFFERENT path) here's where to get started:
1. Stop talking about how much you hate your job.
The more energy and attention you give to the things you don't want, the more opportunity you give those around you to pile-on the negativity (or to offer you feedback that you're not in a headspace to receive!) How you conduct yourself in your moments of greatest clarity, or the times when you're most aware of your desire NOT to work where you work, matters a lot in your ability to create a better situation for yourself.
Committing to changing your language/attitude about your work situation when people ask you how work is going is important for two reasons:
"I am feeling a lot of hope and energy lately around shifting gears professionally."
2. Balance First, Reach Second
It's critical that you find your inner calm where you already are before you start "bathing suit shopping" (<-- analogy in the video). The strategy for this is a soft, soul-centered one that is easily over looked... but don't miss the practicality of this due to pre-conceived notions about this word.
The best way to cultivate calm where you are RIGHT NOW regardless of the circumstances is forgiveness. Forgive everybody. Forgive yourself; forgive your boss; forgive your irritating co-workers; forgive the people along the full scope of your professional story who have influenced you to doubt yourself; forgive your family; forgive the person who cut you off on your commute.... EVERYBODY.
This is a big topic -- it's so important that I've devoted the month of January to cultivating forgiveness every single day, and I've broken down the steps of this daily discipline into what I call the Daily Forgiveness Process. Here's where you can get an overview of the Daily Forgiveness Process, and also join us in our month long challenge to do this proactively each day.
3. Check out Rise: The Career Advancement System - it's our newest program, and it's designed for YOU if you're feeling stuck, underwhelmed, overwhelmed or unsatisfied in your job or career. If you're looking to accelerate your growth where you are, or if you're looking to make a big change into something new, this program is designed with you at heart.
It's a 6-month, open-enrollment program & as a thank you to those of you who join us in our initial launch period, we're offering a limited time payment plan.
As an added bonus, you'll also get access to our webinar about the specific behaviors that shift confrontation into a powerhouse of relationship building opportunity!
Thursday at 12pm ET, I'm doing a 30-minute Facebook Live that will give you:
👉 Clear/actionable first steps if you're feeling stuck in your job.
👉 Landmine aversion: what NOT to do -- the thing that derails MOST people who are trying to get themselves out of a professional rut.
👉 Insight on how to ensure the actions you're taking now are getting you on a path that you WANT, not just on a path to more disappointment/dissatisfaction
👉 How to make meaningful progress in the pursuit of your desired career path **quickly**
Mark your calendar for Thursday (January 17th) at 12pm.
2019 does *not have to be* more of the same. A fulfilling career path is well within your reach. 🙌🌟👊
Do you have a friend who tells you often that he's/she's stuck, unhappy, unsatisfied and/or completely underwhelmed at their job? Please share this with them!
If YOU are resonating with the above description, you won't want to miss out on this!
Earlier this week I interviewed Kristen O'Hara, Director of Continuing Education and WEDnetPA Administrator at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. In this video, we talk for ~18 minutes about the Workforce and Economic Development Network of Pennsylvania, or WEDnetPA, a training reimbursement program for for-profit, non-government, Pennsylvania-based companies.
...You read that correctly: this is a program who's sole purpose is to reimburse you for training and developing your people.
"Use this for that training you've always wanted to do, but thought you couldn't afford." says O'Hara.
Watch the interview here and/or enjoy the spark notes below.
Here's what to know:
Investing in the development of your own people is a fantastic way to deepen engagement and improve retention over the long run. If you're especially focused on building up leadership within your company either for succession or simply to ensure sustainable growth - take advantage of this resource! It is free to apply, and while the enrollment process requires some doing... you could qualify for up to $150,000 in training reimbursements per fiscal year.
This program resonates strongly with the message of The Allegheny Conference, which is where I first learned of the deficit between the number of young people we are educating in the Southwestern Pennsylvania area, and the number of leaders we are retaining at our companies to ensure the future health and success of our region's economy.
According to the Allegheny Conference’s 2015 Annual Workforce Report, ~270,000 working Baby Boomers in the Greater Pittsburgh Area are eligible to retire by 2025, and we currently have a shortage of ~100,000 workers to replace them.
Training the people you already have to thrive where they are is important for your company AND it's important for changing the economic story of our region. WEDnetPA is a fantastic resource for those of you looking to equip your people for current and future success at your company.
Reach out to Kristen O'Hara for more information on program enrollment, and book time on my calendar here for information on how &Beyond can help you with your leadership development goals in 2019.
Part of the Daily Forgiveness Process involves some real honesty about the source of our negative feelings and resistance.
There's a way to do this that guides you down the path of what you want, and there's a way that guides you down a path that yields nothing but heartache and misery as you re-open old wounds.
**I don't want that for you.**
What do you WANT to do today? ... anything is the right answer! Do you want to ask for a raise? Do you want to quit your job? Do you want to tell someone you love them? Do you want to speak up for yourself in a way that makes you feel vulnerable?
Identify what you want is Step 1. THEN work the steps of the Daily Forgiveness Process. The purpose of this work is to notice where the limiting beliefs are hiding, and what they're tied to. The purpose of this work is not to dredge up the most painful chapters of your story, or reopen old wounds. In fact, focusing on those things is usually counterproductive to the efforts of thoughtfully creating the experience you want to have in your life.
Instead, let your forgiveness be a strategic and intentional effort to set yourself free. The act of calling to mind the worst things in our lives in an effort to forgive, is often born out of some sort of moral obligation.
That is not how I view forgiveness. It is my experience that the most beautiful things in life are created when we are acting in full alignment (total faith in myself, my scene parter and the creation process), and forgiveness is the most effective way I've found to enter into alignment.
Forgiveness is not about "being good." You are already enough. I am already enough. Forgiveness is about being FREE.
And that is why it must be a daily practice - freedom isn't something that is achieved and then becomes a permanent state of being. Freedom either is or isn't in a given moment, and it completely depends on what you are allowing your thoughts to settle on.
If you are clouded with negativity, resentment, shame and self-doubt, you will continue telling a story that says "I'm trapped." or "The world is unfair." or "This is just how it is."
Forgiveness is the practice that enables you to release those unhelpful and untrue limiting beliefs.
Here is where you can join the Daily Forgiveness Challenge going on throughout the month of January. You'll receive an overview of the Daily Forgiveness Process, and weekly recaps of the mantras, notes of encouragement and inspiration and specific forgiveness topics (each week has it's own designated topic).
Are you interested in talking more about channeling your forgiveness efforts towards creating the life and career you've been wanting? Here is where you can book time on my calendar to tell me more about your situation, get my take and learn about some possible solutions for getting the clarity, confidence and momentum you need!
This is week 1 of the Daily Forgiveness Challenge!
We are making time every morning in January to complete the Daily Forgiveness Process, and to be intentional about claiming more peace, freedom and success in 2019 by proactively forgiving the stuff that's holding us back. #ShineYourLight2019
Click here to be sent an overview of the Daily Forgiveness Process and get weekly recaps of the content posted on each topic.
Week 1: Forgiving Family
Week 2: Forgiving Past Antagonists in our Professional Stories
Week 3: Forgiving Ourselves
Week 4: Forgiving The Way Deep Down Stuff
Week 5: Forgiving Our Current Scene Partners
The Forgiveness Challenge is being hosted on our Facebook Page. We're posting daily notes of encouragement and thoughts with which to ruminate. Here's a sample from today:
FORGIVENESS CHALLENGE DAY 2: This week's topic is forgiving family. Here's today's piece of advice as you work the steps of the Daily Forgiveness Process:
Don't overlook the "small stuff."
Our family creates the baseline we understand as "normal" behavior. This is a HUGE DEAL. It can make it harder for us to notice the ways the opinions, judgements or off-hand comments - even the ones that aren't directed at us - can deeply impact our worldview and shape our vision for what's possible in the future.
TRUE STORY: I remember hearing an uncle make fun of people who make vision boards at a family get together when I was in middle school. It was a passing comment between football commercials that earned him a chuckle from my dad and the other uncles in the room.
Not a big deal... but nearly TWO DECADES LATER I was reluctant to make a vision board when my business coach instructed me to do so. 🤔
I had been hanging onto this negative impression that vision boards were for prissy, frivolous people who believe in weird things and expect their dreams to fall from the sky instead of working for them.
(**yikes** Happy to discuss further over coffee sometime! )
Guess what -- I made a vision board.
But that's not the success part of the story!
The success is not doing a thing. At least -- that's not the LONG TERM success.
The success that serves your highest good, and will carry you into peace and freedom for the rest of your life, is **noticing** the little things that get planted (maybe unintentionally!) by the people who shaped your view of "normal," noticing them with CURIOSITY, and releasing what isn't serving you with forgiveness.
That's the skill the makes a difference, friends.
The point is it may not be so easy to notice the ways we are limiting ourselves; holding ourselves back from the goodness/hope/optimism that's calling to us... all because of a formative remark one of our model grown-ups made out of turn.
It most certainly was NOT the intention of my uncle to impress upon me that I should never make a vision board. I would wager a hefty sum that the man has no recollection of ever commenting on the topic at all!
People say "Don't sweat the small stuff." I say "Unpack the small stuff with curiosity, and then forgive and release it before it blossoms into unnecessary lifelong angst about vision boards."
I'd like to thank you for your support and patronage in 2018, and wish you a very happy holiday season! It's been a year of building, a year of crossing milestones, and a year of spreading hope and freedom through improv.
I'm so glad you're along for the journey, and I'm so excited for all that 2019 will bring. (Some special announcements at the end of this post!) Special thanks to the amazing team I've had coaching, collaborating, supporting and creating alongside me this year: Aimee Juarez, Alyse Flack Brown, Joy Bufalini, Erin Kelly, and my amazing husband Kyle.
This year, &Beyond introduced thousands of people to mindful improv, and the implications of applying those principles (present-focus, supporting readily, listening purposefully, taking risks and rolling with change) to life and work. This year would NOT have been possible without each of you. Thank you!
Here's a quick look at what was launched in 2018:
I am thrilled by the impact we've been able to have this year: helping people reshape what it means to lead, what it means to collaborate and what it means to grow fearlessly.
And we're just getting started!
We are piloting a partnership with Rhabit Analytics - a software tool designed to provide a data-driven picture of culture and employee engagement over time, and psychologically safe, actionable feedback to team members. Beginning in 2019, engagements with &Beyond can include use of Rhabit as a way of determining program efficacy and also providing direction for allocation of individual coaching hours and program direction. I'm very excited about this, and think this will be a wonderful way to serve my clients at an even higher level.
We're taking this show on the road - with a weekend retreat called Freedom Weekend: a weekend of mindful improv, laughter, meditation, good food and practical/actionable guidance for growing as a human and as a professional.
This has been a long time in the making, and we are SO excited to begin laying the groundwork for hosting it this spring at MONTREAT near Asheville, North Carolina. Registration will open for this in January, so keep an eye out.