In a few weeks, we will celebrate my middle child graduating from high school. He was two years old when I started my business.
Like every parent at a graduation ceremony, I marvel at how much he has changed and grown in that blink-of-an-eye span of time! I also sometimes wonder, what was I thinking starting a business back then?
When MAP Inc. began, I had a preschooler, a toddler, and a baby on the way. My days were filled to the brim with story times and business plans, dance parties and client sessions, outdoor adventures and networking. Add a bunch of laughter and tears and exhilaration and exhaustion, and you’ve got a good picture of those early years!
One of the questions I am asked most often, whether in interviews or by young professionals and budding entrepreneurs, is how I’ve grown a business while raising a family. I certainly don’t have all the answers, but here are a few of my reflections:
1. Both flow more smoothly when you honor your values.
If you’ve ever coached with me, we have talked about values. They imbue everything we do – all our roles, all our interactions, all aspects of our lives.
I strive to honor my core values at home and in my work. I live out my value of growth, for example, by encouraging my children and my clients to set inspiring goals and to try new things; I challenge myself to do the same. When we know our core values and intentionally honor them, work and life flow much more smoothly.
2. Weekly planning rules the day.
On a tactical level, my Weekly Review + Planning practice has been an indispensable part of making it all work.
When the kids were little, this involved mapping out some ‘fun-tivities’ each week (library, art, meeting friends at the park); as they grow, it often means scheduling meets and academic events on the calendar before all else. I may not address every priority every single day, but if I don’t address them in the span of a week, I know something must change.
3. Learn to acknowledge some dissonance.
Sometimes I have put business opportunities on hold to focus on family; other times I have had to leave for a work commitment right when something has happened at home. Accepting this has at times proven quite challenging.
We all live multi-faceted lives with priorities that may include family, career, health, spirituality, and so on. While we strive to keep first things first, we also need to recognize that tension between those priorities will arise; periodically, this can be o.k. if we learn to navigate it with a purposeful mindset. If it’s a constant source of overwhelm, however, changes and support may be in order.
4. Keep showing up. Even when you get it wrong.
I have made more mistakes, both with the business and with the family, than I can count. But every day, I show up, attempt to start fresh (my morning practice is a HUGE player in this), and decide with intention who and how I wish to be in the world.
We all mess up. Learn from the mistakes, refocus your mindset, course-correct, and keep on keepin’ on.
5. Love fuels all.
When I became a parent, I bombarded my mom with questions, to which she eventually gave me some of the best advice I have ever received: Christi, whatever you do, if done in love, will be the right thing.
Friends, I have applied this in parenting, in business, in life. Whenever I don’t know what to do, which occurs more often than you might think, I consider her words. They haven’t failed me yet.
I am inspired by the delightful young adults my children have become, and I am pleased with this business that started 16+ years ago with little more than a burning desire to make a positive difference in the world. And thank goodness I have a passion for learning because I am still learning and experimenting every day!
If you are in a season of transition, I hope you take time to reflect on the joyful moments, lessons learned, and what you’d like to create going forward. As long as we are on this wild, beautiful, messy, ever-changing ride of life, let’s keep making the most of it – personally, professionally, and at all points in between!
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