When 45 Feels Like Forever 21

When 45 Feels Like Forever 21

If you are reading this and can’t believe this girl writing to you is going to be 45, join the club. Most days, I feel like I’m still the anxious 21, 22, 23 year old that jet-setted cross country in my brand new corporate job, super eager but lacking much experience. Here’s a clue…..that feeling of “am I good enough?” is one we will wrestle with every day of our life. At 45 I’m finally convinced of that and it’s mostly what keeps me jumping in the ring and facing fears every day.

For all of you 20 and 30 somethings out there, let me start by saying the 40s are legitimately the new 20s (with a slower recovery from late nights).

As I turn 45 this weekend, I’m teetering on that sharp edge of dreading the turn towards 50 and embracing the wisdom and freedom that comes with no longer caring what everyone thinks. My weak and vulnerable brain could fall either way depending on how well I’ve paid attention to my self-care, exercise, and diet to keep me in a positive place.

I’ve found a lot of me but there’s also still a lot to be discovered. As I’m “on my way to 50″, I’m also married to an even closer to a 50-year-old man. Honestly, with zero disrespect to my stud-muffin firefighter husband, I just don’t feel like I’m old enough to be married to someone who’s almost 50. 45 pushes me out of the “middle age” feel and into the “heading towards empty nester” season…..which is a mere 6.5 years away.

I hope this processing is as therapeutic for you as it is for me. The annual birthday blog always jumps out of nowhere in my brain and surprises me.

What is it about birthdays that makes me so introspective? Doesn’t matter. Here we go again.

Let me try to make this worth your while. Because serving women through my creative efforts is my opus in life. I spent a lot of time figuring that out in my early 40s and it couldn’t be more on point. No matter what I’m doing, I’ll be happy if I’m creating and serving, and especially serving women.

For those who aren’t to the 40’s yet, I encourage you to set a 42-year-old goal. That was an age that always stood out to me as “if you are doing this by 42, you’ve made it.” Whatever the heck ‘made it’ means to you.

My 42-year-old age milestone came from watching a new CEO take that title in my corporate world at age 42. It was my first realization that he seemed so young (to me in my 30’s) and that it IS possible for big accomplishments in the next few years. 

From a young age, like 15 or 16, I always had this vision that somehow I would be a CEO of a non-profit. It fully embodied my business brain and my heart’s desire to serve. I just wanted to DO GOOD in the world and wanted to build and lead something that would do so….instead of using my talents to simply line the pockets of another wealthy shareholder.

Honestly, I can’t tell you that I wrote that down, visualized it every day and made it happen. (Like all those 3 steps to your dream career blog posts tell you) It all sort of fell into place and when I started blogging at FirefighterWife.com in 2012, this was NOT where I expected to end up. I thought that blog would help me expand my web development business. Which it did, but what a wild ride now as 24-7 COMMITMENT, a national non-profit reaching millions coast-to-coast each month is changing lives. It’s the HARDEST, most important work I’ve ever done (next to marriage and parenting).

So here comes the “old lady wisdom” from this girl on the downhill slide to 50.

If you are in your 20s: LEARN. Get out there and get experiences. Work under a mentor who cares and helps develop your skills. And don’t let go of those dreams that you have no clue how you’re going to make happen. If you find yourself in a place that feels further away from those dreams and sucks your soul, get out and run fast. There’s so much more flexibility to pivot in your 20s before mortgages and babies.

If you are in your 30s: know that these are the WORKHORSE years as my husband and I call them. You are likely in high maintenance parenting zone and these are the core work years for putting away bank for retirement at the same time. Stay FOCUSED. Take time to play. Watch the seeds you are planting turn into a harvest. That blink of an eye thing with kids goes so fast (says the mom of a senior who was just a 3 lb preemie last week.)

If you are in your 40s: well, let’s not give up together ok? My face may not be the clear, smooth, shiny face that lights up facebook lives, but we can hide that video view (or make it tiny in the corner with a special diva light filter) and still drop mega wisdom on a screen share video ok? I’m only right here with you but I have a feeling that we’ve only just begun.

This year I lost my father who was 70 years and 8 days old when he passed after an aggressive 10 week battle with brain cancer that first took his mental clarity before it took his life. And when I think of all the amazing stuff my father accomplished between age 45 and 70, I realize we still have 2 maybe 3 or 4 full cycles of amazing work ahead of us!

If you are in your 50s or 60s or more and reading this, can I ask you to step alongside me and others like me as mentors and friends?

Judging from my 45 years here on this earth, there seems to be a great gap, especially in female mentorship.

In fact, when I was in my 43rd year (right after that spectacular 42nd year), I experienced a deep valley of grief and loneliness feeling like I was running this business and life race solo. Where were the women who had gone before me? I thought I had found a couple in my space only to be burned and used up. People I trusted as friends and confidantes who in the end, only wanted a piece of the pie and some of the glory. Which I’m happy to share because I’m really not about the glory….. but there’s this thing about givers and takers in friendship and I had started attracting a TON of takers.

It hurt badly.

I thought they were friends but there were qualifications around that friendship and manipulative efforts. I vowed to not let that experience cause me to hide my core values of transparency, openness and giving towards others, but to simply be more aware of the motives of others as I enter into business relationship with them.  And the internet can disguise a whole lot of stuff.  Someone who “appears” to have it all together and is “coaching” women, but has a houseful of disgruntled teenagers running away and doing drugs, maybe isn’t the person to take parenting advice from.  I’ve realized some people are so blinded by their own hurts and emotional baggage, they can’t see your situation with enough objectiveness to speak truth into your life.   They are speaking through their own -isms.   Be careful who you are taking advice from is the short way to say that.   (and as one who mentors women, I find myself being so cautious that the words I speak are not slanted by my limited views in places where I have my own -isms.)

So back to the 50s and 60s, from what I see now, women older than me who appears to possibly be a mentor, are struggling too. Their marriages are hard too. Their teenage and grown children are facing challenges too. Their business isn’t always running optimally. And the pressure feels a little stronger as the “workhorse” days are shorter on our bodies.

What’s sitting on my brain now at age 45 and heading into my 50s?

This phrase is on a post it on my bathroom sink that I scribbled while listening to a podcast one morning (#neverstoplearning)

“How will I make the next level of contribution?”

How will I give back and serve into these spaces in my heart? As a mom to my teens? As a wife to an almost 50-year-old man who could retire from the job of his dreams in as few as 6 years? To my Firefighter wives. Mom’s in corporate. Exhausted entrepreneurs who just want me to fix all that internet ninja magic for them.

May this 45th birthday milestone inspire you to think about your next level of contribution no matter what season or decade you are facing now.

And if your jaw dropped hearing that I’m 45, thank you.  It feels surreal to me each year as I age.   I still feel like I’m in my 20s and wonder if I’m really “old enough to adult like a 45 year old”.   

I want to feel Forever 21 and young at heart, even as the beautiful streaks of silver, my mom and grandma share are starting to grow at a faster rate. I predict, maybe insist, that silver will be the new purple by the time I’m 52.

And for those who want to “be like Lori when they grow up” which entirely cracks me up everytime I hear it, these are all my best free resources to change the world virtually from your home office.

But a word of caution, you may end up CEO of a national movement and wonder who gave you the keys to this important mission?   (Praise God who is always good.)

From Corporate To Work-From-Home Social Media Manager and Marketer

From Corporate To Work-From-Home Social Media Manager and Marketer

Looking at your baby can bring a rush of emotion.

Love. Warmth. Protection.. and for a lot of us? The desire to never want to leave them with someone else. To never HAVE to put them in daycare.

For Stacey Nachajaski, it was the same way. Today, I chatted with her about what catapulted her career into the virtual workspace and it is pretty simple. She is a mom that wanted to be with her family.

I am so excited to share this story with you today because the simple parts stop right there. 

For most of us, the road to freedom – working for ourselves – is NEVER easy. Stacey and I discuss her success, and just how rocky that path can take to get there. From going with your gut (investing in a $1,000 program without telling her husband!) to deciding to start an in home daycare until she brought on more virtual clients, Stacey HUSTLED. She did the working mom thing that you ALL know so well.

Sit down, pour yourself a coffee, tea, glass of wine, and enjoy – this one is great! 

Our Favorite Moments in the Video:

“The person who is running the business that you want to run is who should be your mentor” – Lori

“That (investing in a high dollar course) was the launchpad for me. It is what got me out of corporate.”  Stacey

“Your mentors change as you business does. You can have several – they can have different specialties.” Stacey

“You can shift your future in so many ways – make the math add up whatever way possible – ie. Watch kids int eh afternoon and do services work in the AM.” Lori

“Do not try to start 1-1 client services and consultant work at the same time – it is too much for your bandwidth – but you can do it soon!” Lori

“If you have 7 ideas, pick one. Pick one you can work on during the weekends or nights.” Stacey

“Your goal is to just find that first client. There are going to times that are working from 9pm-midnight.” Stacey

“The working mom hustle is really, really tough. This is something that can only happen for a few months before real burnout happens.” Lori

Show Links:

How She Quits Course – 6 Weeks to Clients 

Stacey’s Facebook Group: The Content Groove

 

How She Fast Tracked Her Corporate Exit and Became a VA in 3 Months

How She Fast Tracked Her Corporate Exit and Became a VA in 3 Months

Do you wake up dreading heading to work?

Do you go to bed, worrying about having everything together to get out the door on time with your kids?

Trust me when I say – you are not alone – so many working moms are feeling the exact same emotion, right now.

If you have ever felt like there is NO solution to your current work life and that you are drowning in endless commutes, corporate meetings that no longer motivate you or like your heart is being pulled a million different ways when you leave your kids – you need to read on. 

Today, I interview a mom who is just like you. She had a corporate career that worked but not longer inspired her. Her desire to be with her family was stronger and she tried everything – even muli-level-marketing (hey, we all have at some point, right?).

Meet Amy, the owner at AmyLockrin.com. She fast-tracked her exit from the corporate world by creating a thriving Virtual Assistance business in JUST three months. We discuss what worked, what didn’t and which this niche is a viable option for so many women who are itching to leave the corporate world today.

She shares top tips on how to gain clients that retain and most importantly, what she wished she had from the beginning – it is an interview you do NOT want to miss!  

Our Favorite Moments in the Video:

  • “There are so many legitimate opportunities for woman to create businesses online now. Are you a professional? Name your skill. We can create a business for you!” – Lori
  • “To become a Virtual Assistant, you only need two things: find what you love and then figure a skill you have. Boom. Match those up and you have created your portfolio. Keep doing that over and over that is your portfolio growing!” – Amy
  • “You just need to show up, be consistent, be reliable, there is always going to be some new software out there – you have to be a fast learner and get to know your client well.” – Lori
  • “If you aren’t sure – just rip off the band-aid and do it! You deserve it!” – Amy

 

From Corporate to Freelance Web Designer: A Classic Formula to Start Your Own Business from Home

From Corporate to Freelance Web Designer: A Classic Formula to Start Your Own Business from Home

“I spent stupid amounts of money on courses, learning, doing, trying ANYTHING – to find a way to be home.” Victoria Gazeley, Owner thecabindesignstudio.com

Today I chat with Victoria about her entrepreneurial path and how she created a life of freedom. One where she is home with her family, present to homeschool her son, and has built a thriving business that works on her terms.

The moment Victoria said those words, it took me right back. I remember that feeling. The pit in my stomach, the ache where I felt I would do almost ANYthing to get home to my family. Not because my job was bad, but because I knew it wasn’t where I belonged.

I am so excited to share today’s interview with you. Please join us as we chat about the real ups and downs in creating something that can thrive as you navigate which business model is right for you. Victoria shares incredible insight about how you never know what could truly be the answer to leaving your corporate job.

Our Favorite Moments In this Video:

“All of us chase things that are not right. I don’t know how many iterations of things I chased before I finally found what was a sustainable business that matched my gifts that there was a need for that would keep me home.”

“Having someone to guide you, mentor, tell you “what are the pitfalls” would have been huge! I didn’t have that – I didn’t know anyone who had done what I am doing personally. I spent hundred’s of thousands of hours researching…”

“Once you have done this for awhile, all these options, possibilities and potential open up in your brain that weren’t there before.”

“You operate your best when you feel like you. Create a space where you can be authentically you.”

 

 

Show Links:

Victoria’s Website:   The Cabin Design Studio

Victoria’s Facebook Page:  https://www.facebook.com/TheCabinDesignStudio

Behind the Scenes of a Successful Work From Home Accountant and Mom of 4

Behind the Scenes of a Successful Work From Home Accountant and Mom of 4

Have you ever looked down at your kids and just knownI can’t keep living the life like this?

That you HAVE to make a change and do something different. Whatever it takes.

Senica is just like you. She is you. She had a thriving career, working full-time government job as an accountant and the hours were long, hard and draining. The season (you know, TAXES… we all shudder) is when her door is shut and she gets to work. It’s also when she stops seeing her family.

But what did that mean for her kids?

Today, I sat down and discussed how this brave mom took life into her own hands. How she made the tough decision to leave the secure world of government to go off on her own. With no client base to speak of. No backup plan. Just a passion and a belief that she had to make it work.  Because for her?

Motherhood was worth it. The yearning to create something of her own was there and she knew she could do it.

Meet Senica, mom of four and owner of Simplified Accounting. Today we discuss how she made her business work thrive without one warm lead and what makes this an easily replicable system for you too. She shares her favorite moments of being a working from home mom and how different life is for her now and answers that ever important question – What advice would you give someone who wants to get out of the corporate rat race?

Our Favorite Moments In this Video:

“That first day that you aren’t at your job – you almost need a detox – that feeling is amazing. The details. The date. You will never forget it.”

“Get your first client, get your second client, get your third client and THEN rework your systems because you are now juggling.”

“Being a business owner you have to get out there, let people know you exist, get comfortable, even if it is just closing leads.”  Fun fact….. Senica’s leads come almost entirely from online networking and referrals from her online network.  And she does not have a huge facebook list or email list.  She basically knew exactly the type of client she wanted to target and went specifically for that.

“My first client came from cost per click ads on Google. The coldest lead you can possibly get and it really confirmed for me – yes. I can do this. I am going to make this work!”

Find a mentor!!!  Having a mentor a few seasons ahead of her in this space was key to not feeling alone, avoiding key mistakes and having confidence in starting her own business.

Show Links:

Senica’s Website:   SimplifiedAccount.com

Senica’s Facebook Page:  https://www.facebook.com/ChicagoSimplifiedAccounting/

Creative Work Options

Creative Work Options

You’re likely to spend 40 years of your life in some form of employment.   And, those will be the best hours of each of your days that you spend doing “work”.

No matter how much you love your work, once you have children, you realize your most important title in life is Mother or Father.   You’re in charge of the development of a human being!  And maybe multiple.   This tiny person has the ability to leave a major impact on the world.    (So do you.)  But the ability to inspire and guide your own flesh and blood into young adulthood (and beyond if you are blessed with their respect) cannot compete against the next SAP implementation, process improvement or Product Iteration 4.0 you may be a part of.

Now step back and take a look at all those years of your life.

For only 1 of them are they an infant.
For only 5 of them are they home all day, every day.
And for the next 12 they are in school during their best hours and you get to spend family time together during morning rush hour, evening rush hour (I’m talking about your kitchen / bathroom rush hours) and the end of the day when your batteries are wearing out.
If you’re lucky, the weather cooperates for some of the weekends you have together that aren’t filled with catch up around the house, holidays and extra curricular activities.

Newsflash!   The cliche is so true.  They are only under your roof for a short time.

And thinking of teenagers who jump right into their own busy life by about age 13-4, you’re really talking about 13-14 years of time when they like to listen to your thoughts.   13-14 years out of 40ish years in which you will be in the workforce. If you have 2 – 3 kids, that may extend by a couple of years max.
So is it a big deal for you to take a step back from the ladder climbing for a season?    What about asking for a part time or reduced hours role? Or, finding a way to work from home entirely?

I want to break down some creative work options for families.  Personally I have been full time, part time, flex time, on ramping, off ramping, contract, self employed, overtime, travel time and everything in between.  So basically, I have a little firsthand experience to share here.

Option 1:  Alter Your Current Work Schedule

If your employer offers reduced hours, flex time or alternate work schedules, this is ideal.    You are valuable to your employer as that cost to hire a new you can be high with retraining and learning curves.   Consider approaching your boss.   This is by far the easiest to transition to as it requires no retraining and you can almost immediately find relief in your schedule to meet family needs.

So many kid related activities / appointments must happen between 8 and 5.   Teacher meetings, doctors check ups, phone calls to set up summer camps, tutoring and other programs.   If you can, create a schedule that gives you some free hours M – F between 8 and 5 to get those activities done.

When I worked part time while our kids were younger, I had co-workers frequently say things like “that must be nice” assuming my off hours were spent at the spa or on the golf course.   It was pretty easy to give them a dose of reality as I described grocery outings to the warehouse store because it was faster during off hours and picking up uniforms and dry-cleaning that filled my off afternoon.   Oh, and at less pay but that part was entirely worth it.   It was not about money but moments with family.

Option 2:  Take A New Position Designed for Part Timers
If staying with your current employer is not an option, take this as an opportunity to try something new that caters to part time hours.    One way to find this is to reach into your personal network of people who know your work quality and understand your time constraints.  It takes focus and discipline to crush a project while working part time but often what I found is that my efficiency nearly compared to that of a full time worker (for half the pay so be careful how you negotiate that!)

Option 3:  Become an Independent Contractor
It takes some planning, some sales and the ability to self-manage but independent contracting has never been an easier market to enter.  To begin looking for possible job fits for you consider these great sites.

Flexjobs.com,  Upwork.com and HireMyMom.com are all places you can find freelance work.  There are great projects for anyone with administrative, marketing, legal, finance / accounting, sales, project management, graphics / creatives, writing or technical skills.

Don’t forget to download our Step-by-Step workbook if this is the path you are considering.  It’s only 3 steps and it’s exactly what catapulted me and others to a work from home freelance consultant business.

Option 4:  Make 6 figures running your online business
Kidding.  Actually partially kidding.   This is my warning to not get suckered into the emotionally riveting email subject lines and sales pages promising quick wins and cash while you sleep.   Online marketing does work well but behind that are real people having real conversations doing real good in the real world.   What you need is an effective business model that matches your skills and serves a need for a particular audience. And then, perhaps some coaching / consulting from someone who has run a real business that leverages online marketing. I say it like it’s simple.  “All you need to do is…”  Well here’s one secret.  It’s just one foot in front of the other, trial and error and then you find that audience that craves your personality, product or service.   One of my favorite things is brainstorming and critiquing business ideas and growth strategies.  So I’ll be personally walking a select group of mom’s through   It’s your chance to pick my brain.

Option 5:  Start With a Direct Sales / Home Party Business
*If* there is a product you love, and you are only trying to replace a couple thousand a month, these can be good options.  It’s a ready made business.  You learn the system and follow the plan.   You must not be afraid of sales.  You must have a decent sized personal network and /or be ready to invest in marketing to grow an audience.  And you must realize, with a few exceptions of some long standing companies, this would not be a lifetime career but good for a season.   Also beware that while the hours are flexible, many jobs like this require a lot of evening and weekend work which may be worse for your family schedule.

I need to be honest and say that this is not my most favorite path.   I did rise to a director level in a direct sales company, while working full time and pregnant with my 4th child.  (Yes I figured out the system and LOVED the products and my passion for it attracted people to me naturally.)   Amongst the few things I didn’t like about this option is that you have to “sell the dream” that isn’t achievable by some.   It was heartbreaking to see people get super excited about the product and the financial freedom potential of becoming a consultant knowing that a small percentage truly get to the level I was or even higher.  So to set expectations, this path is great if you only want to replace $500-$1500 / month by the end of the first 3-6 months and are ok with the evening / weekend work.  But, you do build an audience and have a ready made following should you decide to launch another venture.

More on direct sales later.  We can talk a LOT about that if you need direction.

In case you are still leery of jumping off the ladder climbing path at your job, remember this:
This change in your work is only for a season.  Once you get beyond it, most people won’t even remember it.  In fact, most co-workers may not even know you only work part time or reduced hours if you continue to deliver great work.

You will learn a LOT about yourself as you optimize your work schedule and efficiency and learn new things.

It will be very refreshing to have a job you like to focus on that doesn’t press into your family time.  (Dare I call this the elusive balance everyone is seeking?)

You will never regret those moments home with the kiddos.   When you are refreshed and home on the couch with them by 3 PM and able to practice ABCs together when you aren’t completely exhausted.

If you ever want to go back to M-F 8-5 employment you will come back with a whole new set of skills and experience to share.

If you are worried about the reduced income that can accompany a reduced hour schedule or job change, be sure to factor in these unexpected benefits:

  • More time to plan healthy, affordable at home meals
  • Less stops for coffee and dry cleaning
  • More time to shop around for purchases instead of needing to make a rapid selection
  • Less spent on wardrobe

What’s your next step? If you want to explore the possibility of a career change to accommodate your family needs, let’s chat.   More resources for working moms at this link.   Or to tap into my brain for a business planning / brainstorm session go to LoriMercerCTO.com.

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