We all need support and guidance if we are going to achieve the life we dream of, regardless of what that looks like for you. That’s why at MumsWork we love a bit of coaching and work with several of the best in the South East. We asked our coaches: if you could only give one piece of advice to a working mum, what would it be? So here they are, with their top, number one tips:
Believe in yourself and do it your way. Take inspiration from others, but don’t let that shake your own confidence in your own ability. Sometimes we, and it seems to be something women do more than men, compare ourselves too much to others, and end up feeling less adequate as a result. I’m here to tell you that you can do it – your way! Sure, it’s sensible to take advice from people who have done it before and who may have more experience in a particular area than you do, but what works for others may not be quite right for you. So don’t worry about competition, just focus on you and your business, and making that happen. Use inspiring stories and people to motivate you, not to make you feel inadequate. You too are an inspiring person in your own right! And collaborate where you can – I find that hugely motivating, working with others who each bring something different. I find it helps to shape my thinking, to create something even better. And suddenly you notice you have less competition, and a bigger support network. Make it work for you!
It can feel daunting when we are looking to return to work or set up a new business after taking a career break; it is often hard to reconnect with who we once were the world of work and the former skills and abilities we utilised before having our children, so it’s common that our confidence can take a knock. When stepping into the unknown and taking steps to forge a new future we can all too easily fall prey to what I call ‘gremlins’ – those pesky critical voices in our heads that question what we have to offer, who will want what we have, and generally point out all the ways that we are supposedly ‘not good enough’ to take on this new opportunity and succeed. One of the most effective ways to silence these inner critics is to keep what I call a ‘Book of Gems’ – a book in which to collect all positive feedback, compliments and testimonials which builds evidence of our impact and effectiveness and over time can help us to cultivate our confidence. On days when the doubting gremlins shout loudest this book can then serve as a positive affirmation of our strengths, skills and talents and can keep us facing down our fears to take the steps necessary to move ourselves forward. To start it off I often ask my clients to list for themselves thirty skills and strengths that they have (including those gained since becoming a Mum which are transferable to the workplace) – you may be surprised just how hard it is to list these for yourself as we are far more used to pointing out our failings. So I also ask them to put aside their modesty and ask their friends and family for their feedback as well. The results can often be illuminating!
Get really clear about what you want to do and what you don’t want to do and shape your business around that so that rather than letting your business ‘force’ you into doing stuff that doesn’t engage you or make you happy, you choose what you do. Because life’s too short to get stuck doing what you don’t want to do!
Don’t wait to be ready. You are ready now. Too many women listen to their inner critic who slyly whispers words that undermine self-confidence: ‘not now, maybe later, perhaps never’. But not you. You will take a deep breath. You expect a gulp moment. Then you close your eyes and envisage what it will feel like to conquer that fear of failure. You imagine in detail the time of success. You notice feelings maybe sounds, smells and even colours. You observe your surroundings and are self-aware. What do you see around you? How are you moving? What are you saying? How are people responding to you? What was the first thing that you did that got you started on this road to success? Opening your eyes, you find it a powerful moving and positive sensation. You will remember this feeling by writing down the words or by doodling or drawing the specifics of the journey that led to the future success of you. Now you can start to plan. You have imagined it and so you know you can act upon it. And now every move you make will enable you to grow closer, be stronger, feel more in control of your life and reach that goal. You are ready now.
Never let anyone tell you that you cannot fulfil your dream, that you are not good enough, intelligent enough.. even after a career break. You are beautiful. You are unique. You are talented and have huge value to offer everyone you meet and whose life you touch. Dream Big, Think Big, Play Big. Returning to work or setting up a new business will be full of challenges, especially if you are a mum and have a family. View all these challenges positively. You will learn invaluable lessons from each and every one of them. Just focus on your end goal and keep saying to yourself ‘I can do this’ and not only will you but you will also fly. Just keep believing it
If you are setting up a business or returning to work, have a family meeting and share your passion and vision around why you are doing this and what you hope to achieve. By doing this you can then explain to your children that things might be a little different and you require their help to achieve your dreams. You can then make a Family plan, for example: adjust the family chore rota so that there can be more free time to do fun things together. Talking about your dreams to your children strengthens your relationship as they begin to see you and respect you as a person as well as a parent.
Short and sweet. Ask people you like and respect for feedback about what they like and admire about you. The feedback is often surprising and empowering and will be a great confidence boost at this time.
My tip is simply to learn to ask for help. You don’t need to do everything on your own around the house, at work or with your business. Think about where your biggest time drainers are and how you can solve them, for example doing an online shop every 5 days or having a cleaner can make you feel a lot more organised. Asking your partner, family or friends for some support with childcare so that you can have some time to yourself even if it is a 30 minute run and an evening out with friends every couple of weeks it makes you feel normal again. If you are going back to a job or starting a business think about who you can ask for help. If you can become comfortable with delegating then you make the time you do spend with your family really count.
My best piece of advice is to have a good friend close by that you can call. It is important to have a friend who can be your cheerleader and who cares about your physical and mental wellbeing. It’s great to have a friend to call upon who can pick you up when things get a bit too much and remind you to laugh when life gets a bit too serious. Surround yourself with people who lift your spirits and help you enjoy life. Being a mum, raising a family and working will have many ups and downs. That is part of life, but it’s important to put yourself first and carve out time in your day just for you… to CARE for you! That may be as simple as going for a walk or having a nice bubble bath. Always remember to give it your best because you are stronger than you think.
Life can be so busy and we are constantly bombarded with tasks that need doing – at work, at home… it can feel overwhelming. A key technique I have been implementing this year is the ‘Just One Thing’ principle. Write everything you have to do this week on a big list then evaluate each task and ask yourself, what is the ONE THING that will have the biggest impact on your business. Don’t do anything until you have done that. Then re-evaluate and re-prioritise. Assume you will only have time for one thing. It focuses the mind like nothing else, and it has helped me to make significant progress in my business in a year where I have relocated 200 miles away, had a second baby and now have a major house renovation coming up.