So, you think you don’t have choices?
Let’s chat for a minute.
Seeing, identifying and understanding that you actually DO have options is part of two of the tenets of Intentional Optimism. If anything has been made clear to me through the last two guests on this podcast, it’s that the type, volume and availability of options is much greater than I realized.
I’m talking about options with a capital “O” - options for your life, for your future.
Every once in a while, we get bogged down in the daily grind. We forget that the journey IS the destination, and get lost. Recently, I found myself feeling a bit like I was on a “hamster on a wheel” - which I’m sure you can imagine was NOT something I find joy or pride over!
So what’s different now?
I was reminded.
Reminded of why I do what I do.
You see, in both the tenets of Intentional & Optimistic, the concept of options is addressed.
First, in Intentional, for me: I consider my options, knowing what they are, always looking for alternatives.
Then, in Optimistic, for others: I make options, choices and potential, visible to others. I’m always asking “What IF?”
How did I get reminded?
Well, here’s a transcript clip from podcast episode 84, between me and Diane Pleuss
Diane: They (franchises) are looking for someone with business acumen, someone who wants to be involved with the community, someone who has leadership skills, someone who can hire people, direct them, train, develop them, handle the advertising and marketing to a certain extent with corporate…..
Me: Like 10 people just popped into my brain - this is an option for her and her…
If you go listen (you can do that on this week’s episode, I include the clip), you can hear my enthusiasm. Reflecting on it, I felt a little like Oprah “you get and option, you get an option, you ALL get an option!”
If you listened to Episode 84, or caught the Guest Speaker series we did that week (you can view it on YouTube: Diane Pleuss), you’ll know that I REALLY learned a lot during our conversations. I said for years I wanted to leave corporate like a benevolent Pied Piper, taking as many women with me as I could… which meant I was going to need to help them build their courage, help them see their skills, show them how their expertise mattered and was relevant, and that they COULD leave. That they could pivot.
They could go into business for themselves, doing what they LOVE, make a living, and FLOURISH.
I’m not sure if you catch the magnitude of that kind of dream or aspiration… but it’s just a little HUGE. There are plenty of days it can feel like I’m out on the open ocean, with no other boat in sight.
But hey - I’m out here. I’m off the beach. I’m past the breakers. Past the reef.
Doing this for myself means I KNOW how to do it for you. To lead you out from the shore… off the beach… past the breakers… past the reef… and as I learn (say it with me) I share.
So let me share a few things that have been made even more clear to me in the last few months.
I’m 100% ALL IN on empowerment - choices. We all have them, but we may not see them. (that could be conscious or unconscious) We also may not yet have knowledge, confidence, means, ability and authority to MAKE those choices. And if you want more information on what Empowerment means, check out Episode 83.
I am uniquely equipped, qualified and motivated to uncover, point out, curate and connect people to possibilities and opportunities. I LOVE this work. I truly get an adrenaline rush watching the lightbulb come on above your head when something finally “clicks.” Whether it’s the very first stage - awareness - or the final “OMG! THAT’S IT!” and watching you take off with success… it’s ALL amazing to me.
Empowering women to make choices for themselves, to take control of their FUTURE is truly my passion. I LOVE doing this for everyone - meaning I teach this to my son, my husband, my family and my friends - including small businesses, organizations and teams. All of it is about culture change, all of it is good, good work. But - empowering women, specifically, gets me jumping up, clapping my hands in people’s faces, shouting “YES! That! Right there. You have what you need, now let’s go DO something with it!”
But what does that look like? I don’t get to wave a magic wand - as much as I’d love to! Wouldn’t it be nice to just wink, nod and say “Bibbity-bobbity-boo!”
So how do I, or how can I “Empower women to make choices for themselves to take control of their FUTURE?”
Everything starts with awareness.
Even if it’s the awareness that you don’t like where you are. Or you think there could/should be more to life.
I believe the best way you can empower yourself is to take charge of your own future by being in business for yourself - so let’s narrow the conversation down to that area.
According to a 2021 Gallup study, a whopping 85% of employees are NOT engaged, and 73% are considering leaving their jobs. Additionally 1-in-3 professionals cite boredom as the main reason for leaving their job.
Odds are, you fall into at least one of these categories. I was in ALL THREE. And it wasn’t for not trying to be engaged, or not trying to learn new things to keep me from being bored. I tried - HARD.
But the reality is, nothing is more fulfilling, exciting or satisfying than pursuing a passion that also provides financial stability or independence. Am I there yet? Nope… but trust me, when I hit that 100k or 1m mark, I’ll tell you. Not to brag, but to show you it’s possible.
For now, I’m out past the breakers, and maybe past the reef… so let’s work on getting YOU out past the breakers.
Look, there’s NO reason for you to NOT take control of your future. You might THINK you can’t, or don’t have the power to do so, or that someone else truly is in control… and your circumstances might appear that way right this minute, but I promise you, it’s a THOUGHT.
So the first thing to tackle is (dare I say “obviously”) MINDSET.
We’ve all been taught to go to school, get a good education, then a job, and work until you retire. Then, as women, we’re even taught more specifically, that we shouldn’t rock the boat, ask for too much or be too demanding, because that will hurt the chances of ALL the women in the boat. Right?
We’re told that security lies in having a steady paycheck, benefits (meaning health, dental and life insurance, and some kind of retirement plan), and if you don’t have an employer, you won’t have them.
None of that is actually true.
First, let’s talk about that “steady paycheck.”
According to a Pew Research study from 2020, women still earn only 84 cents on the dollar compared to men. So your steady paycheck is likely causing you to be an underearner. Additionally, if you’re not yet making the market average for your job, you’re seriously underearning.
This was my reality throughout my entire career in university medical administration and research. This was true for most of my staff, and most of the female research and clinical personnel with whom I worked. It’s not a “nothing” statistic. I was even given a promotion - one for which I was already doing the work and had to ASK to be recognized for - THEN I was told I wouldn’t get a raise to go with it because I couldn’t make more than others who were already in that position. That one still raises my blood pressure.
I also submit that the benefit packages handed to you by an employer might look great without actually being great. My former employer made a point of calculating all the wonderful things they provided for me, placing a dollar value on them and graciously tacking them ON TOP OF my actual salary as my - ready for this - “total package.”
This was a major sticking point when I left my job. Where would we find replacements for all those amazing benefits? But when I did leave, we discovered that some of them were “nice to have” but truly not necessary. They were also not as great as I’d originally believed. My circumstance is unique, but we were able to find the insurance we need (health, dental and life), at a reasonable price for our household income, and now we’re covered - WE cover ourselves. Gotta say, when the life insurance policies came through I felt like a full-fledged ADULT!
Next, let’s talk about security.
I have never, personally, been in jeopardy of losing my job due to layoffs or restructures. I have, however, had to tell staff they were being laid off. I have friends and colleagues who were “restructured” right out of an organization, and have a guest interview coming up this summer with a woman who was straight up fired.
I have, however, had my career cut off, tamped down, and nearly tanked, by the actions of 1-2 people in power. I’ve been told to keep my head down, stop asking questions, get with the program, and even was expected to comply with an insensitive and unreasonable requirement - with the implication that if I did not, my job would be on the line.
Long or professional career
One other mindset issue we can’t ignore is that if you have a certain number of years invested in a career field, or if you have an advanced degree (like an MD, PhD, JD), that you would be throwing away your time, money and investments to switch careers now.
This one can be thorny, but I’m here to tell you: NO.
It is IMPOSSIBLE to quantify all the skills, and experience you’ve racked up in that 20+ year career, or as a result of all that education. As a research administrator, I negotiated countless clinical trial contracts to test cancer therapies. All of which taught me that in order to determine which drug or combination of drugs work best on a specific type of cancer, they try over, and over, and over. Seriously, where would we be without all those trials?
Here’s something interesting: part of what they learn in those trials are what we call “unintended benefits.” You see, they collect data - TONS of data - with each trial. They don’t head into a study with the mindset that if this drug doesn’t work on this type of cancer, then we toss it out or we just keep plugging along to see if it gets better. Nope. But, in all that data, they might notice that it actually lowers a patient’s blood pressure, or helps regulate bleeding. I witness this firsthand every time my son takes a blood pressure medication as part of his ADHD regimen (for impulse control), and when my husband received shots in his eye (yeah, I know… cringe) of a chemo drug originally used for colon cancer.
The same principle applies to you, my friend. Your education, advanced degree, years of experience… are all data that you’ve collected over the years, and if you are unfulfilled (or bored), doesn’t mean you have to stick it out because you paid for it or you’ve invested years.
STOP. Take a look at the data from a new perspective and see if you can use that degree or experience somewhere else doing something else. Something that WILL bring you fulfillment. Something that will benefit you, AND others.
Just this morning, in response to me sharing some of the new systems and ideas I’m coming up with in my business - as I hand a specific portion of it off to a team member - my friend said “Look at you, pulling all those managerial skills back out, remembering how to delegate, and create systems that work for your team to do what’s necessary! Yay, you!”
Yay me, indeed!
Does any of this sound familiar to you? If so, take heart, sister, there are so many MORE opportunities than even I ever imagined, and this idea of being in business for yourself… leading yourself, then leading others through doing your special work… it’s not only possible, but plausible… and in a way, imperative.
But how do you leave that mindset of the steady paycheck, security and time or money investment? You might be sitting there shaking your head thinking “that’s nice, Andrea, but what if I AM one of those professionals, with a decent paycheck, and the work I could do in following my passion looks like I’d be starting over, making half or a third of what I make now? I can’t take that kind of hit!”
Well, maybe right this minute you can’t.
But there are options.
Always - there are options.
In order to see those options though, you must be willing to. You must be willing to declare what your dream or passion is. Maybe even just start with the fact that you really WANT something better than what you’ve got.
That, we can work with.
Once you do that, you’re stepping onto the Beach.
If you've even admitted in your head, what you might want to do - well then, Welcome!
Can you feel it?
The warm sand in your toes?
The salty breeze?
This is where we start. Right here on the beach.
Next, you have some practical work to do.
You need an EXIT STRATEGY.
Remember that promotion I got, with no raise in order to keep things “equitable?” THAT was the day I decided an exit strategy was at the top of my “TO DO” list. I couldn’t just quit my job. I had to make a plan. Yours will be different from mine, for sure! In fact, I had a client (in Launch From The Beach) whose exit strategy was so much more intricate, intentional and financially lucrative than mine, that there were days I wondered “am I doing it wrong?” But I wasn’t. I didn’t need everything she had in place, we’re different people. She would have gone nuts with my “loosey goosey” plan, but I was fine with it.
You need to figure out what yours will be.
It should include (at least) these main categories, and you can go as detailed or high level on each as is necessary for you.
1. Finances: At minimum, you need to know your monthly and yearly expenses and spending. Me, I’m not a budget person, but I had to buckle down and really look at how much money was going OUT of our accounts in order to determine how much we needed to have coming IN.
This process was very enlightening. When we could see what we were spending in certain areas we were able to really cut costs and reduce our expenses in ways that have been extremely helpful in the transition. I have a friend who is really good at finding the best price on essential services, and I just take her advice and switch stuff up whenever she tells me. Oh and we also did our research on what the insurance premiums would be (based on our projected household income), so we could just plug those numbers into our calculations.
Once you know what your expenditures are, or need to be, you can determine whether or not you can save up a few months worth (many financial people counsel 3-6 months), which could give you a buffer of time to get a new business up and running. Or, like me, you might be able to cut your expenses enough that losing your income for a few months won’t cause you to miss a mortgage payment.
Either way, it’s important to gather the information you need to make any decision like this. As a reminder, here’s the definition of empowerment: to have the knowledge, confidence, means, ability and authority to do what you were put here to do, and to make the decisions necessary to make it happen. Knowing your numbers is knowledge and will give you confidence to move forward.
2. New Business Options and Requirements - for me, as a coach, speaker and DISC consultant, I had already done much of my training while still at my job. Many employers have some kind of educational benefit, and if you’re not taking advantage of it, you’re leaving money on the table. Of course, you need to follow their guidelines, but mine fell into the personal development category, and my work was part of a certification process.
Based on what your dream or passion might be, ask yourself if there are certifications, training or new skills you might need to start that business. If you don’t know, now is the time to find out. Getting those taken care of will allow you to confirm that this is something you want to do, provide more experience in that area, and even meet others heading into that same field.
I have two examples in my background to illustrate these points. Coaching wasn’t the first certification I embarked upon - I actually started with Interior Design. Yep, sounds so similar, right? You see, I knew I wanted to help women flourish, but wasn’t sure how. I thought that perhaps helping them create sanctuary spaces in their homes would relieve their stress and give them the margin they needed to move forward. I’m sure it would, but when I got into the drafting curriculum I quickly realized I’d never enjoy that as a profession!
It wasn’t my passion. On the other hand, those with whom I went through coaching and DISC certification, as well as my podcasting class, are people that are now lasting friendships and even some working collaborations.
3. Relationships and Community: I’d love to just say “hey, you can do whatever you want whenever you want. You're the boss!” But I also understand that you may have families, children, spouses… and they are all part of your life. I’m never going to say you have to get permission to do something, but taking charge of your future starts with taking charge of your own personal growth, and that always includes how you interact with, respect and care for those in your inner circle.
This will look different for each of us too. I wanted my husband and son to support me and cheer me on. I wanted them to understand my passion and desire to be my own boss while helping other women do the same. Therefore, much of the financial research and information gathering that I did was for my husband. He needs more of that information than I do, and out of respect for our relationship, I did it for him.
Of course, the unintended benefit to me was that it ended up giving me courage and understanding of what the limitations were. I could see - in black and white - what I needed to do. It also ensured his support and encouragement. He’s been my biggest supporter, even when I have been down and depressed… because trust me, it will happen.
4. Can you start now? This is what I did, and what many people do. They start their business as a “side hustle” while they keep their current job. Yep, it’s a lot of work. Yep, it can mean working many hours. But - it can also mean that you’ve developed a business plan, structure and maybe even started making some money before you quit your job.
I did this by starting my podcast and taking on coaching clients. Diane Pleuss mentioned the Manager Run model of franchising as a great way to start while still remaining at your job. Dana Dunton was able to reduce her hours enough to get her boutique set up before fully quitting.
Creating an exit strategy, is you walking down the beach toward the water… and depending on your ability to start a side hustle, maybe even dipping your toe in.
This is just a START my friend.
These steps will get you on The Beach, and maybe even into the shallows. But you have to first acknowledge and decide.
So, here are some questions for you:
Because, my friend:
You just might need the support of a community, OR of a franchise that helps you get further down the road than you would on your own.
It all begins with awareness… and growth. There are so many ways you can begin your own growth journey with Intentional Optimism.
Unconventional Leaders LEAD At EVERY level, in ANY area, using their UNIQUE gifts.
So, to be clear…
The steps to get there will be different for everyone. You might have 5 steps, or you might have 20 steps. None of that matters. You have to start with yourself.
You will never take control of your future if you don’t take control of your own growth.
You will never take control of your future if you never take on all the things that are holding you back.
So get started, get involved, pick any of the options I shared above, and just start.
Or book a 30-min consultation, and we’ll figure out your next best step to empower you to take control of your future.
Let's DO this!
P.S. To listen: Podcast Episode 86: Wake Up! You Have Choices!