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Home » #17: Women Making Impact beyond the Home – Season to Root

#17: Women Making Impact beyond the Home – Season to Root

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SUMMARY

Suri discusses how women can find meaningful impact through four intention-based seasons. This is the season to root, where we move beyond the home.

SHOW NOTES

Relationship links mentioned:

Parenting tweens and teens:
Career, marketing and entrepreneurship:
Business owners from diverse backgrounds:
Online schools and courses:

This episode was made using:

TRANSCRIPT – edited for clarity

INTRO: Hello again and welcome back to Doing Things on Purpose, the podcast that empowers women to take charge of their time, health, relationships, and money by doing things on purpose. I’m your host Suri Stahel.

CHECK-IN: Let’s go straight to this week’s mom check-in. 

  • If you’ve been a loyal listener, you know that I practice my daily yoga along with Yoga with Adriene on YouTube. Her free playlist for this month has been really great: gently challenging but always loving. This morning it was funny to hear her say ‘root to rise’ and ‘anchor in love,’ which have been main themes running through my podcast these last few episodes. I think when we choose to focus on good thoughts and good habits that support us, we start to naturally tune in to more of those types of messages – helping us see the world as a much more friendly and supportive place.
  • I’ve found as the days get shorter and the nights get longer, I need every bit of comfort, coziness and love that I can absorb during this time. As parents, it’s a good time to think about adding a bit more of those slow, calming and reassuring activities like reading, baking cookies, crafting decorations or making  christmas cards – to balance out the shorter tempers and darker moods that tend to rear their ugly heads during this time of year, when we least want it to.  
  • And as important as routines and repetitive rituals are for calming and regulating our children’s nervous systems, they can be just as important to help regulate us parents too. For you, maybe it looks like waking up in the morning, doing a bit of yoga, meditation or writing in your journal, brewing that yummy cup of coffee or tea, kissing your kids and partner good morning, getting breakfast and snacks ready, emptying the dishwasher, putting everything in the bags, sending everyone off into the world, going back to the kitchen or dining room and clearing the table, preparing your breakfast, getting ready to work, taking breaks when you need it, being back home to cook dinner, put clothes in the laundry or maybe getting the vacuum out, taking out the trash and so on… it becomes like a dance that can be very calming if you let yourself fall into the rhythm of it. On hectic or busy days when you’re always expected to perform, it can be something familiar to look forward to. And eventually, you stop worrying about who does what. You appreciate help when you get it, and if not, it’s okay, because you’ll just be chugging along at your own pace – one ritual at a time and one day at a time. On, and on, and on… it’s so grounding.

RECAP: As a recap, we’re discussing the impact of women inside and beyond the home which began in Episode 15, and now we’re at episode 17. We’re looking at our life’s journey as mothers and as women, using the metaphor of these four seasons: 

  1. The season to explore
  2. The season to love
  3. The season to root
  4. The season to bloom

This week, we’re discussing the season to root – which is exactly where I am in my life right now.

 It’s when women are between their mid-30s to mid 40s, who’ve already started a family. And if you’re like me, you’ve even taken the leap to focus the last half- to full-decade of your life committed to putting your family and relationships first, as much as feasibly possible. 

You’ve put in the work to keep growing, to keep cultivating the soft skills necessary to be the empowered and trusted leader that your family needs you to be. And in the last few years, you’ve started to see your investments bearing fruit:

  • You and your spouse have continued to be each other’s best confidants. You help pull your partner back to the center of the relationship emotionally, while balancing each other out in all things that matter like finance, child rearing, work life or home life. I’ve touched on how couples tend to be opposites in many ways – it’s either a blessing or a curse, depending on how you navigate it.
  • You might notice that your kids, both the introvert and extrovert, seem to be relatively secure in their own skins. You probably wonder why they turned out so different despite being parented by the same people. 
  • Maybe you’ve even gotten feedback from the class teacher that your child can work well with others, even those who might not be the class favorite. So they’ve learned how to navigate social situations gracefully. Not all the time, but most of the time. I think in this case, other people can be the more objective and less critical judge when it comes to the behavior of our kids.

All of these signs make our work feel much more validated.

At the same time this season also comes with its own set of challenges:

  • Parents, now middle-aged adults, might experience some version of a mid-life crisis where we suddenly feel like time’s running out. If we haven’t taken the time to develop internally, this season can feel like a really dark place. We crave more purpose, meaning, appreciation and recognition – to validate our worth in the world.
  • Couples who tried doing it all in the past 10 years and have spread themselves too thin, might find their partnerships falling apart. If you’re here and looking for a way to make it work, check out:
  • The third challenge is when our kids reach their tweens and teens. They will test us, to see which family boundaries are really fixed, which ones are flexible, and which ones can even be renegotiated. They start to care more about what their friends and colleagues think of them. But if your kids grew up feeling like they’ve always been accepted, rarely minimised and often respected by you, their parents; they’ll feel better equipped to resist peer-pressure, and to open up when things get difficult. 

As we see our kids becoming more mature physically, parents should still be mindful not to let go of the reins completely. But we do have to make some adjustments.

Where younger kids can get easily overwhelmed by too many choices, teens can now shine as collaborators in the family decision making process: 

  • Yes, we still need to be the ones setting strong roots and clear boundaries when it comes to things like prioritizing sleep and limiting screen time.
  • But no matter how our kids perform in school or in their hobbies, we have to be the ones who avoid shaming them into working harder and doing better, if we want to foster a sense of autonomy, responsibility and self-motivation that will serve them throughout their lives. We have to remind them (and honestly ourselves as parents), to focus on a growth mindset which encourages resilience and a positive approach to setbacks. This is an evergreen lesson that we all need to learn, re-learn and internalize, as we change and grow in our personal and professional lives. 

3 Resources for Parents of Tweens and Teens

  1. As a guidebook, one that I’m excited to read myself is William Stixrud and Ned Johnson called The Self-Driven Child: The Science and Sense of Giving Your Kids More Control Over Their Lives. I’ll include a link to that in the show notes of this episode.
  2. Phinnah Chichi’s The Parenting Teens Solutions podcast with, or her book The Parenting Teens Navigation System.
  3. When you find yourself losing your cool, educator Kim John Payne and podcast host of Simplicity Parenting, tells parents to imagine a long heavy cloak flowing behind them, to help ground parents in that moment and avoid being instantly reactive. Susan Stiffelman who by the way has a podcast and great courses that you can check out – calls it being the captain of the ship. Janet Lansbury who supports parents of younger children, calls it being the mama bear. Or I like to imagine that I’m channeling my inner Yoda.

Exploring Beyond the Home

So enough about all the problems and challenges that we can face during this time. I also want to fully acknowledge the beautiful season that women can find themselves entering, when they’ve put in the hard work, in their family building season of love. 

We now have some time and space to start thinking about and exploring the type of work that we might be happy and willing to do, up to the time when we decide to stop working, which could even be beyond the retirement age of 66.5 in the US or 64 in Switzerland. 

Because we just love it so much.

Statistically speaking, in the traditional workplace, the end of this season (at age 44) marks the time when women tend to peak in our salaries. That’s 10 years earlier than our male counterparts! However fortunately, this is also the age when both men and women reach our peak ability to focus. So how can we learn to leverage that?

I shared on Twitter that I’ve only just recently found time to read, listen to audiobooks and consume podcasts since my first child was born 11 years ago. The last 3 years or so have been such a great joy. I’m blown away by the all the information, stories and opportunities that have opened up to women and especially introverts, who are looking to take control of their lives, this late in the game.

Never has it been easier to pick up a new skill, or apply for a new job – all because of technology.

Of course, for people unwilling to give all their time and energy towards advancing their careers, not all opportunities are open to us. But I’m here to share my findings. I’m sure it’s very limited based on my knowledge and experience so far, but again, I’m willing to grow.

What does work look like for women who are also hell-bent on having a thriving family life? We’re need:

✅ Work that’s time-flexible (we want to be there for family emergencies)

✅ Work offering location-freedom (we want to enjoy life or take mini-retirements)

✅ Work that pays well by the hour (because we have fewer hours to work)

✅ Work that can scale up be partly automated (serving more people per hour worked)

How does that sound for you?

And getting there doesn’t have to mean selling our souls. However, I do think it requires us to think of ourselves as a solopreneur or entrepreneur in some shape or form.

That’s the challenge of our time. Even if you work in a traditional office, think of yourself as an independent entity that needs to be profitable and needs the right conditions to thrive within the marketplace. 

Look for opportunities to invest knowledge, learn new skills and practice taking care in your biggest asset – yourself. 

When it comes to learning and skill-building in this season, just choose any area that interests you, or that you’re curious about; don’t limit yourself. To reassure you, the 80’000 hours career guide book even quotes a study, proving that humans are bad at guessing how much or how little we would enjoy an experience. So the only way for us to really know, is to experiment. To try things out.  

And if you’re willing to do that, you will keep learning and growing. You’ll be more effective at serving others while finding your own unique path, towards a joyful and impactful life and career.

Side note if you’re in your late teens to early 20’s and looking for a career path that you’d like to maintain during your family-building season… Unfortunately, I haven’t seen many examples of moms who aren’t struggling working and maintaining the home as the primary caregiver.

Two that do come to mind:

  • Lawyers who work independently. They are quite well-paid by the hour and have more flexibility to take on as much or little work as their family life allows.
  • Or teachers who are always in shortage, enabling them to easily transition in and out of full and part time work, during their family-building season.

But if those careers aren’t your calling in life, just experiment, follow your interests and use the 80’000 Hours book to help you keep sight of how you can best build up career capital. You can also check out their website – there’s a ton of resources there.

For the rest of us, who are older and have older kids and are exiting full-time homemaking, you can do two things:

  1. Build upon the skills and knowledge you already have. Learn about marketing with integrity from people like Seth GodinZoe ChanceMarie Forleo and Louisa Zhou. Think about, what problems can I help others solve? Or what results can you help them reach? The spirit of the moment is about leveraging an individual’s impact to reach and help people on a much larger scale, thanks to technology:
    • People like Pat Flynn have used their own life experiences to create blogs which turned into online communities, which turned into online courses, just to teach people how to pass a professional certification exam. 
    • People like Diego Perez have battled addiction and gone through personal self-discovery, which turned to tweets, which turned to books, which turned to public speaking engagements and so forth.
    • Public figures like musicians, actors and award-winning news anchor Angela Chee have left the studio and used their skills to teach people how to do what they do, in Angela’s case, how to be confident on camera. 
    • We see journalists, writers, financial advisors, vocal coaches, doctors, artists, therapists, educators and psychologists leaving their brick-and-mortar jobs, to start online businesses that are more flexible, more nimble, and have unlimited room to grow and create impact. I’ll link to ones that have personally inspired me in the show notes at suristahel.com/17. 
    • If you find a person you admire on YouTube or anywhere else, find the time to go back into their history. See where they began, watch their first video, podcast, blog or book. And notice how the quality of their work has progressed over time. Some people I’ve only heard about in the past few years have been honing their craft for a decade or more – so give yourself that time to grow and gain mastery too. Generally speaking, it seems to take many people over a year and half of consistent writing, talking, speaking and improvement of valued content online, before they suddenly gain traction. And if you’re like me and you’re not creating content as consistently as you would like, I’m expecting that timeline to be a little more stretched than that. But when you reach my age, one to two years is really not a big deal.
    • Depending on your business model, and your appetite for work and money; you might not even have to reach half as many people as you think. Seth Godin calls it, focusing on your smallest viable audience – the smallest target group of customers that could still offer enough revenue-making opportunities to grow your business.
  2. On the other hand, if you want to start over, start low-cost learning and experimenting: 
    • Listen to podcasts, read books, watch free tutorials, join webinars or seminars, talk to people in the industry, register for an introductory course or buy an online course from individuals or places like UdemyCourseraedXUdacitySkillshareCodecademy and multiple other online options. Or you could hire a coach, or get a mentor if you need more guidance and motivation, to keep you moving forward.
    • One particular skill that you can consider picking up, which leads to good pay with location flexibility is coding. If you’re interested in that, there are many ways to try that for free or at a low cost online. I’ll link to an article on the 80’000 hours website about programming, that you might find useful. 
    • And as you begin to have an idea about what you want to do for the rest of your life – start creating and sharing. Write that blog, start that podcast, make videos, or self publish and book. Don’t know how? Problem-solve because that’s the skill you’ll need to run a business. By either learning to do it, or learning to delegate it. Just do ‘something’ to help you find that ONE THING (or maybe a few different things), that lights you up and energizes you. By slowly showing the world who you are, and what you are, you start creating online proof of your ideas and your value. And if you stay true to your word – you start building trust.

The key is to allow yourself to start before you’re ready, with tiny baby steps. As Marie Forleo says, “Clarity comes from Engagement.” And I’ve found that to be true.

Starting this podcast and writing copy (or the text) for my website and these episodes have helped me think about, research and crystallize the thoughts that were previously just floating around in my head. Those thoughts start becoming real. 

Learning to record and edit has also opened up new opportunities for me to narrate audiobooks and do voiceovers on the side, which I never thought I’d enjoy doing. It’s still a work in progress, but that’s what I’m aiming for. Just progress, one step at a time.

So to summarize, the rooting season is all about experimenting again but with wiser eyes.

We want to find something that we’d enjoy doing until we reach the ripe old age of 70 and beyond! If it’s enjoyable, why not? 

Because just like choosing to commit time to our family and relationships in Season 2 have, and will continue to pay us off in spades, our commitment to root down and continue growing in this third Season of our lives, will help us find that definiteness of purpose, and allow us to bloom in the next season. It will help us accept no failure, and to keep going on, despite the rejections and challenges that we’ll absolutely face along the way. 

If you still aren’t convinced that people can and do get to start over again, later in life, watch Marie Forleo’s interview with Laura Belgray which I’ll link in the show notes as well.

I’m excited to crawl, walk and run with you there. 

OUTRO: In the next episode, let’s dream together about what it looks like when we bloom  – as we enter our mid-40’s and beyond.

If you have anything to teach me or share about your 40s and beyond, join in the conversation. Email me at suristahel@gmail.com. You’ll find the show notes to this episode at suristahel.com/17.

If you prefer bite-sized reminders and encouraging messages from me, the best way to do that is to follow me on Twitter or Instagram

Thank you so much for listening in. This is Doing Things on Purpose with me Suri, and I can’t wait to catch you again next time.

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