My audiences corner me after my lectures, e-mail me, and phone me with questions on disparate subjects. I’ve shared tips on how a novice writer might break into the writing industry to more difficult topics like how to communicate in a crisis or how to read signals from a child who’s being bullied at school. This week, I’ll share my thoughts regarding a recent question I received from a young, frazzled mom.
Q: I’m a 27-year-old working mother of two. I want to further my education so that I can find a better paying, more fulfilling job. As the breadwinner in my home, how do I stay inspired, empower unhappy colleagues, and manage it all?
A: I applaud your efforts! Helping to sustain a family, wanting to better your career, and empowering others are indeed big undertakings. Don’t let it overwhelm you. Try prioritizing each of your concerns by dividing them into smaller, more manageable chunks. Consider categorizing them: 1) Things you can resolve immediately, 2) Tasks you can accomplish in the short term (a couple of years), 3) Items that you plan to address strategically over time (in five or more years).
Set goals. Goal setting is important and gives us something to which we can look forward. We fare better when we work our plan, knowing that our tough season will have a finite end. Conversely, when we don’t set goals, long-term change isn’t often realized. Frustration sets in.
Will you devise a plan that allows you to continue your education, maintain your salary, and provide care for your family and yourself? Perhaps you’ll enroll in online classes. Maybe you’ll ask your employer about in-house educational opportunities, or seek a mentor or workplace sponsor in the meantime. (See my blog post regarding the importance of corporate sponsors vs. mentors.) Will you concoct a savings plan that allows you to further your education? Will you ask for additional work assignments in order to acquire the skills you’ll need to move to the next highest pay grade? Regardless, expect the best.
Choose happiness. Commiserating with other unhappy co-workers may provide a temporary release of frustration. However, when we’re back at our personal workspaces, we mull over the shared concerns and we teem with negative emotions.
Decades ago, I learned that I had to be an example to those around me. That meant I was excluded when everyone else met at the water cooler for afternoon gossip, I was rarely invited to my co-workers’ personal gatherings, and I often ate lunch alone. However, my bosses noticed my work ethic. When a better assignment came along, upper management gave me a nod.
When we’re unhappy at work, it’s best to voice our concerns to management. But, be prepared to offer viable solutions (lest we be perceived as a complainer). If implemented, your solutions will help your colleagues to be empowered to use their voices, too. Consequently, the rate of attrition may decrease, absenteeism may diminish, and morale will soar. Our voices are powerful. We can use them and win or silence them and suffer.
Take action. When we work our plan, we reap peace and a sense of accomplishment. Establishing checkpoints and incorporating small rewards along the way, we ensure success. Discussing our plans with others, we’re likely to be held accountable.
Striving to reach our goals, we need faith, courage, and perseverance. Pray for guidance and heed the words of Philippians 4:8 (NIV): “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
Godspeed to you as you chart your course to success.