Prioritizing: Timing Is Everything
Priorities—If motherhood has taught me anything, it's that my life now moves at a different pace than it did when I didn't have kids. Before I had kids, it was really hard for me to understand why a mom couldn't manage to take a shower each and every day. Seriously, how couldn't she manage to squeeze in even a 10 minute shower? But then I had my first child, and I joined the ranks of moms who had to stop and think about the last time she showered. Yesterday? The day before? Or...when did I last shower?
It wasn't that I didn't actually have enough time to get cleaned up (although it sure felt that way). Instead, I had other things to do that were more important. Like sleep. Or eating. Or the non-stop care of my baby. I was used to showering every morning around 6:30 a.m., eating breakfast around 7:00 a.m., dressing and heading for work around 8:00 a.m., and so forth. But having children rearranged the rhythm of my days. Nine years and three children later, I have grown used to the new timing that governs my life. Even though it took a lot of adjustment, now I've learned how to consider the way timing affects a lot of the choices I have to make as a mom and as a business owner.
Priorities Dictate Timing
Take, for instance, my desire to start and run my business. I decided to start my business when my first son was three and my second son was a newborn. And shortly thereafter, I had my third child. So I was running a business with three children under the age of five. Despite the desire and passion I had for my business, despite the careful, planned action I was taking to grow my business, get more clients and make more money, and despite a very strong, selfish (in a healthy way) urge to do something for myself that had nothing to do with motherhood, the timing wasn't right for me to start a million-dollar, 80-hour-per-week empire. That didn't fit with my priorities and values around raising my family.
So I had to adjust my business-building plan to one that accommodated my value system. I had to slow down, set smaller goals, create a schedule that only had me working a few hours each week, since all the rest of my time was devoted to the little people who needed me so much at that point.
Timing Will Change Over Time
With each year that passes, I am grateful for the time that I have been able to spend with my children. And I am thrilled that I've been able to slowly build a business that allows me to adjust how much time, effort, and energy I put into it depending on the fluctuations of my family's schedule. I work like crazy in the fall and winter during the hours the kids are at school. I take the month of December off completely to travel and enjoy the holidays. I slow down in the summer and rarely take on new clients then, since summertime is my favorite time for making memories with my family.
My baby is heading to Kindergarten in September. My timing is going to change again. With all three children in school Monday through Friday, I'll be able to work about 30 hours a week (doubling the 15 hours per week I'm working right now). I'm planning to adjust my schedule again to spend more time working and building a business I've been keeping on a slow growth schedule for a long time.
I have several clients who are experiencing a lot of anxiety around making tough choices about how to grow their businesses or take advantage of a fantastic opportunity that has presented itself to them, since in each case, the opportunity would cause a lot of changes to their family's routine. For each of them, I'm coaching them to consider the timing of their choices. Being a mom requires flexibility. That said, it doesn't mean sacrificing your plans and goals and dreams. But it might mean that you need to consider the timing of them.
Do you have a big choice to make in your life right now? How does timing factor into your options? Have you ever made choices that put two or more of your priorities in conflict with each other?
Photo courtesy of Flickr.
Lara Galloway, The Mom Biz Coach, is a speaker, a business coach and the founder of the Mom Biz Academy, the "MBA" for mompreneurs. She teaches moms how to do what they love without compromising their priorities. Grab her "Six Steps for Creating a Sustainable Mompreneur Business" audio course here!