I love to being a wife and a mom, my family is at the center of my life. Being a supportive partner to my husband and an involved and loving mother to my kids are at the core of who I am-but that’s not all that I am. I strongly believe that to have my best and happiest life, my personal well being- mental, physical, spiritual and material- is hyper important and requires my conscious attention.
Also, as a working woman, I want career success and the financial rewards that go with performing at my highest level. Yes, women can “have it all,” but the pressures and time commitments of family, work, friends and other obligations can at times feel overwhelming. My advice is to make some time for you. In the long run, you won’t regret investing in yourself. To the contrary; when done right, you’ll feel more fulfilled and in control of your life and might find some great new opportunities as well. Today, I will share five ways to make a personal investment that will leave you feeling more empowered.
1 | Control your money.
Whether you go to an office every day, run your household, do both (or even more), it’s important to have some money of your own to use in the way you see fit. This is especially important for stay-at-home moms in households with one main income source. Who wants to feel 100% beholden to your partner around every expenditure? Not me.
Here are my suggestions:
– Keep your own bank account. Have a joint account for the family bills and one for yourself as well. Whether it’s for your own paycheck, a regular transfer from your spouse, or a dividend check from a successful investment, you’ll feel in control and able to make your own choices without having to explain yourself (which can feel belittling).
– Understand your family finances. This includes the month-to-month bills (mortgage/rent, utilities, taxes, food, school, etc) as well as big picture items. Do you have 401K’s or IRA retirement accounts? 529 college savings? Life Insurance policies? Disability Insurance? Does your family have enough “rainy-day savings” to survive an unexpected layoff? Don’t rely on your other half completely run the show. Work together to be transparent and mutually supportive. Ask questions and make a document with all of the important information on it.
– Explore “digital economy” sources of income. If you’re looking for a side gig or are a stay-at-home mom with limited time, you can still find ways to explore your creativity and interests and make some money. The explosion of Instagram, You Tube, Facebook, Twitter has opened up tremendous opportunities in digital marketing and online businesses. There are a number of jobs women can manage from home over a few hours a day. Do some research and you’re sure to find a number of examples of new business empires having been started by smart, creative, and resourceful women out of a home office (i.e., laptop at the kitchen counter). Sites like eBay (the digital age yard sale for almost anything) are also a great way to make cash. Why throw out that waffle iron or never-used kid’s birthday gifts when you can earn some “found money” to replenish your Starbucks card?
2 | Create a Vision Board and stick to it.
- A vision board will help you be clear about your goals and keep them in your active thoughts. It also creates positive energy and momentum, keeping your thoughts constructive and increasingly focused on your goals. If you want a new job, visualize your new office and think about what you’ll feel like walking in the door. Picture what you’ll wear that first day. Ask yourself some challenging questions. What will success in your new job look like? What are the things you most desire? Is it a perfect vacation, a piece of jewelry, and/or more savings? Do you crave a relationship or a better one with your current partner? Do you want to deepen your bond with your Kids? Get closer to your mother? Put pictures or words reflecting all your wishes onto your personal board and look at it with intent before you go to bed and upon waking up in the morning. Give this a try. I have a picture of my vision board as the screensaver on my iPhone that I glance at throughout the day.
3 | Meditate.
We’re all busy, and life can sometimes feel overwhelming. Meditation can help to ground you while keeping perspective. I started to meditate every morning about three years ago and have gotten to the point where if I don’t meditate, I have a bad day. Start with five or ten minutes and build to 15-20 over time. Sit in a comfortable, position (find a happy medium between relaxed and upright, but never slouched or lying down) and consider using a meditation app like Headspace) or get a mantra (consider finding a local Transcendental Meditation center and take the introductory course). Be calm and attentive. Relax and eventually you will learn to let go of your thoughts. Be consistent and you will find that you’ll begin to have more balance in your days where you feel more grounded, even tempered and empowered to take on any task thrown your way.
4 | Be a Peacock
My experience has been that men are more natural self promoters and many women struggle to be assertive and get noticed at work. A number of things go on in an office on any given day and your boss may not always be attuned to your achievements and general awesomeness. When you accomplish something noteworthy, don’t be afraid to speak up about it! You can be sure your male colleagues are not shy about a bit of “peacocking”. It will show that you are confident, in charge and know that your good work deserves to be noticed. Drop by your bosses’ office, fire off a one- line email, or dance on your chair, if that’s your thing. Just be sure to make sure your boss sees your contribution as helping them and the business.
5 | Have a Support Network
DON’T go it alone. Many women are juggling the same issues and can help keep you moving in the right direction. During my years on Wall Street, I met a few women who have become my official sounding boards, mentors and commiseration comrades. Whether it’s about my job, kids, or home life- I know these women have lives that are similar to my own and the indispensable advice they have given me (and continue to give me) always picks me up. Whether it’s a phone call, a great dinner, or an emergency “meet me at Starbucks I have to vent” moment, I always feel a bit smarter and much happier after any interaction with my support network.
Tonia Steck is a lifestyle expert and the founder of FO40.com, a luxury lifestyle blog for women and men as they approach their 40’s and beyond.
Photo credit: www.FO40.com