Now more than ever women have a strong desire to live a purpose-driven life. Women are getting in touch with their inner activist for the first time. They have an eagerness to pursue their passions, start businesses and fight for what they believe in. But many struggle with taking action, getting specific about what they want and believing in their ideas. We turned to inspirational speaker, writer and coach, Ariane Hunter to share her expert advice on how you can take action and make an impact with your talents and perseverance!
You speak on the importance of having a purpose-driven career. How do we know what our purpose is?
Purpose is one of those elusive, mysterious words where there is no blanket, one-size-fits-all answer that will be true for everyone. However, at the heart of what I believe ‘purpose’ to be is a connection to a higher calling or a guiding force that is bigger than us. To think that we exist in a world by ourselves is a limitation in thinking. I link purpose to that feeling you get when you look up at the stars at night, when you look at a newborn baby, or when you witness human potential and reach extraordinary heights that touches your heart in a real way. We can spend an entire lifetime searching for our purpose and hoping that one day we will finally get to live it. But how I want to invite people to think about their purpose is not something that we have to wait on but can be experienced in the here and now. The lessons we are here to learn are our purpose. How we react to certain situations, the challenges and stress in our lives is our purpose. What we create from the cards we are given is our purpose. How we face fears and celebrate victories is our purpose. And how we decide to share, contribute, and serve the world is our purpose.
Even if your life or career isn’t where you want it to be, maybe you’re unhappy in your job or you are going through a particularly rough time in your life. Consider that these situations are confronting you for a reason and your purpose lies in the growth you stand to gain from them. We’ve all been through the highs and lows of life and if we begin to see these experiences as messages, callings, or divine assignments sent to us so that we can do the thing that we’ve been put on this earth to do. I know this may sound a little out there for most people but I believe our careers and the work we choose to do in the world holds tremendous opportunities for not only personal fulfillment and transformation but to create change for the better in the world.
How do we get clear on what we want when we feel like we’re in the wrong career or job?
I get this question a lot and it’s a super important one. Clarity is key. What I find is that more often than not we tell ourselves that we don’t know what we want. Sometimes saying ‘I don’t know’ is a convenient little story we tell ourselves because if we admit to what we really want, that means we have to actually do something about it. So it is easier to simply say: I don’t know. To that I challenge you to suspend the belief that you don’t know what it is that you want, just for a moment. Take out a sheet of paper and write out an unfiltered response to the statement
If I only had six months to live, I would ______________________.
I like this exercise because imagining you only had six months to live quickly puts into perspective the things that are most important to you. Out of this exercise, dreams will emerge and you realize just how fragile life is to continue to spend it in the wrong career path. If imagining a shortened life is not your thing, you may want to simply ask yourself what is missing from your career right now. Creativity, meaning, work life balance, flexibility, a positive culture, etc. It may be that you are in a role that is misaligned with your values. Once you are clear on what is missing you can create opportunities that will allow you to bring more of it into your work.
Another great exercise you can try is to write out a list of your response to:
If I gave myself permission, what I really want to be doing is ___________________.
I find that we don’t always give ourselves permission to want the things we truly desire. “Can I really have freedom and flexibility in my career?” I once heard a woman say. To that I say, yes. It is yours if you want it. We must choose it. Will it be easy? Not always, but not impossible.
What would you say to the busy mom who has a business idea but doesn’t feel like she has the time or resources to make it happen?
This is another challenge that I often hear from moms. Being a mother is the most challenging job one could ever have and especially when you throw limited resources like time into the mix than it becomes even more difficult. That said, I’m going to lovingly share with you a quote I heard recently that says: You have the same amount of hours in a day as Beyonce. In order for us to use our time to do the things we desire, we have to proactively choose how we spend our time. Getting in control of our calendar instead of the other way around. Look at your schedule currently and identify pockets of free time that you can dedicate towards working on your business. It doesn’t matter if it’s twenty minutes while you’re on the train or a waiting online at the post office. Dedicate those small pockets of time to make a phone call, fire off an email, make a list of your ideas or to-do’s.
Sometimes you may even have to challenge yourself to wake up an hour earlier before the kids are up or an hour after you put the kids to bed. These are golden spaces of time in which you can dedicate towards working on your business.
This is also a great opportunity to ask others for help or support so that you can focus on your business for an hour or two. Maybe that means asking your partner or a friend to watch the kiddies. You may even want to create a buddy system among your fellow mom entrepreneurs to create accountability and support each other.
How would this mom build confidence and take steps towards her dreams?
Confidence comes from taking consistent action outside of your comfort zone. It’s about overriding that inner voice that tells you to be perfect, to do more research (even though you’ve already spent an eternity reading, studying, analyzing, scrutinizing, on and on). To override that voice that tells you you’re not ready or compares yourself to so-and-so. We have to learn to tune out that inner critical voice whose sole job is to keep you in your comfort zone and protect you from rejection, failure, judgment, etc. Learn to stop taking things personally, build your resilience, and have a thick skin when it comes to putting yourself out there. Your confidence will grow from learning to have healthy inner conversations with yourself as opposed to tearing yourself down.
Think of it this way: what would you say to your son or daughter that struggles with confidence? That is the same conversation you should be having with yourself. Build your confidence by being a model for your kids who may one day go through what are going through. It is the best lesson for them and for yourself.
If we have several business ideas, how do we narrow them down to focus on what we really want?
This boils down to priorities. If your top priority is to have more flexibility or more freedom with your time, choose the idea that is going to best help you achieve that.
There is power in making a choice and although it can be difficult when we have several amazing ideas to pursue, it is better to choose rather than having 100 ideas and not making any progress on any of them. However, just because you’ve made your choice doesn’t mean the rest of your ideas are thrown away. Write down all of your ideas in case you want to go back to them later on.
With more women going after their passions, how is the work world changing?
Now more than ever women owned businesses are on the rise. Nationwide there are just over 9.4 million women owned businesses and are increasing at inspiring rates year over year. Ten years from now the career landscape will have changed with women leaders being at the forefront of that change. We are starting businesses, changing careers, (re)inventing, creating, innovating, building communities, and forging new paths for our lives and careers. We are out-earning our male counterparts, leading households, leveraging our buying AND voting power. Our voices are being heard and we are waking up to our dormant power. We are at the cusp of revolutionary change! Now with so many women stepping into their power whether it be through entrepreneurship or full time work, we are now in the best position to break down barriers that represent an archaic, patriarchal system and create a working world that best reflects a modern more progressive reality.
What resources can you provide Beyond Moms with who are looking to start or grow their dreams?
One of the most beautiful gifts I ever received when building my dreams was having the wisdom and sage advice of mentors and inspirational women who were models for the kind of work and life I aspired to live. Having examples of what is possible was the catalyst that kept me motivated. I would like to gift Beyond Mom readers with a free guidebook I created that is a beautiful compilation of the best tips and advice from women trailblazers, dreamers, and doers. They can obtain their free copy by visiting www.shewentforherdreams and entering their email address. And for those who want to have a conversation to see what is possible in their lives and work, are invited to give me a call at 917.514.3533.