CHLOE Magazine Spring 2014 Volume 4 Issue 4 - Page 85

FOCUS ON FAMILY OR YOUR CAREER WHAT SHOULD YOU DO? by Denise Marek illustration by Hiroyuki Kikuchi It was just like any other day: my two teenaged daughters were standing on the sidewalk at the front of the school waiting for me to pick them up--but there was one thing different about this day. It was my oldest daughter’s very last day of high school. As I pulled over to let them in the car, I was suddenly filled with joy because I knew I had made the right choice. The choice to which I’m referring was to drive my daughters to and from school every day. It was necessary to drive them when they were little, but when they were in high school it became my choice. At times I had struggled with that decision. It meant my work days were shorter, yet it also meant I got the best conversation time of the day with my girls. My decision allowed me to gain time with my children and caused me to lose time building my business. Was I doing the right thing? I remember one of my career-focused girlfriends saying to me, “Denise, you should make your girls take the bus to school because you should be more focused on your career.” Her kids took the bus to school and she worked very hard. Don’t get me wrong, she was a terrific mother. We just had different parenting styles. She was very successful in her field and she wanted to see me “succeed” too. But what is success? Sheryl Sandberg, in her book Lean In, wrote, “If I had to embrace a definition of success, it would be that success is making the best choices we can . . . and accepting them.”1 It can be hard to make choices when it comes to family and career. Should I start a family? Should I focus on my career instead? Should I go back to work after I have children? Once you’ve made your choices, accepting them can be even more challenging. Think about it: There are many moms working outside of the home who feel guilty because they think they should be at home with the kids. Many stay-at-home moms feel guilty because they think they should be contributing to the family’s income. Many worn-out women feel guilty about relaxing because they think they should be busy working on something else. Can you see how much guilt a little word can create? How do we get over this guilt so we can make the best choices we can and have the inner peace that comes with accepting those choices? The first step is to eliminate the word should from your vocabulary. It’s time we stop “should-ing” all over ourselves! Replace the word should with words such as could, choose to, or choose not to. For instance, “I could make my daughters take the bus but I choose to drive them.” That type of self-talk puts you back in a position of power. The second step is to ask yourself, Is what I’m doing appropriate in this situation? In my situation, was it appropriate for me to drive my children to and from high school every day? Yes, because it was right for me. Was it appropriate for my friend to make her kids take the bus? Of course! It was right for her. As I wrote in my book CALM: A Proven Four-Step Process Designed Specifically for Women Who Worry, “Take action because it’s right for you, not because you want to please others or avoid criticism.”2 Don’t follow societal “rules” about what you should do with your life. Follow your heart, listen to your intuition, and do what’s right for you. However, there may be times when you ask yourself if what you’re doing is appropriate or right for you and your answer is no. Should you feel guilty then? Absolutely not. Guilt is not productive, but creating an action plan is. An action plan is your list of strategies for making positive changes, resolving problems, and learning from past mistakes. To create your own action plan, ask yourself: What actions can I take to make this situation more favorable? Become an active participant in making a change for the better. For instance, if you’re feeling guilty about working long hours instead of spending time with your family or friends, create an action plan that includes specific dates and times when you will have time together. Not only does this help reduce your guilty feelings wh