I’m a mother of 3 wonderful girls, wife to a devoted husband and a woman of faith with a rewarding career in communications for over 15 years, working in the fields of journalism, media and communications, development communication, social marketing, project management, the creative arts and communication research. For the past 2 years, I’ve held a senior position as head of communications for one of the leading ICT companies in Jamaica, enjoying the lightning-fast, exciting, grueling pace while earning a steady income and the perks that come with the level of the position and the caliber of the brand. In spite of the challenges, it has been a great stint.
However after much reflection, it is now time to go, chart new waters and step into a new level and dimension of my purpose as an entrepreneur, creative, communicator, women’s development advocate, author, mother and wife. All of these elements are very precious to me but if they had to be ranked for importance, the aforementioned list should be taken in reverse order.
Sometimes working mothers change jobs or careers because they are forced – they have a sick family member or they were made redundant. Others finally muster up the courage to fulfill their professional dreams and take the plunge into their chosen career field or start their own business. Regardless of what the change is or how it is brought about, it presents an opportunity to refresh, refocus and fulfill your purpose. Do you believe in things like destiny, fulfillment, purpose and fate? Don’t let the humdrum pressures of life numb you to the operation of these principles of life. As a woman of faith, I am a big believer in these things. We are each designed to excel at a particular thing/s and in so doing truly experience fulfillment while serving humanity. It can’t be all about ‘me’. And so after much meditation and prayer I decided to change things up and yield to the unquenchable call sounding its voice to step into a new season. Being asked what I’d want to stay in the ‘employee’ role was nice for my ego, but was outside of my new direction.
A new season
Indeed a new season lies ahead and my heart and mind are filled with the faith and excitement that accompany new possibilities; Up up and away! Well …sort of, I do have my heart in the clouds and my spirit in the heavens but my feet are firmly rooted on the ground and my mind consumed in the plotting and construction of things. Here are some of the benefits I envision from stepping away from the traditional corporate glare into new light:
- A time to own, distill and fortify years of experience in media, journalism, entertainment and communications and flex that muscle in new and exciting ways. This is my season to work smarter – refer to my previous post ‘work harder before kids, work smarter after’ https://letsgoupstream.wordpress.com/2014/05/01/work-harder-before-you-have-kids-work-smarter-after-the-modern-womans-game-plan/. More details on what my smarter looks like soon 🙂
- A chance to audit my family-life which means looking deeply at my daughters’ personalities again and investing more heavily in the development of their character while giving more wind under the wings of their dreams. This as part of my strategy to cultivate seasons of investing and pulling back and investing again in my professional and personal life. This is a season of increasing the investment in family; of fortifying a foundation that can stand up in the face of the cultural wrangling of our day. About 10 years ago, when I held a junior management position and had a less demanding schedule, I personally invested a lot of time and energy in evening family routines – bath time, dinner time, talk-about-your-day time, read-a-story time, sing-a-song and then finally prayer time. I give thanks for that season because now when I get in late and busted and can barely sit at the edge of their beds to say goodnight – they sometimes go through the routine without my instigating. “Mommy, it’s time to pray, I will pray first,” says my 6-year old. God is good. We reap what we sow. The great thing about working smarter in this season is that it affords me the opportunity to make strategic professional advancements while focusing on family.
- Lastly and very importantly, I get a chance to take a series of overdue mini-vacations with my husband, given that our work schedules will be more aligned. Honestly, I can’t wait.
As I make the transition I share a few sentiments with my sisterfriends
To the ambitious entrepreneurial young woman who is wondering if working for a company has any lasting value, my answer to you is yes. It teaches you discipline, how to work with different personalities, how to navigate the ‘politics’ of life, the importance of team work and professionalism. It also provides you with a good environment to transform what you learnt in school into real life, concrete experience. Additionally getting a dependable pay check can foster good budgeting and goal setting habits. So value all of what you can gain from being employed. But also be focused enough to discern when to move from the perimeter into the nucleus of your dreams; knowing when you may need to either change lanes and try another industry or to change course altogether and start your own empire.
To the young woman who is wondering if developing a rewarding career and having a healthy family life are possible, my answer to you again is yes, but you must make focused investments in the relationship with your children and spouse, and of course sense the seasons. Be clear on your priorities and courageous and creative enough to act when things need to change.
In all of this you should also honestly know the big reason behind what you want to do. Is it to get you glory or recognition? Getting ‘Bigups’ is nice for the ego but it isn’t a healthy platform on which to build a career. Your big reason should be wrapped up in service to humanity, obedience to God and fulfillment of purpose.
In the end, regardless of where you are on your journey right now, know that all things are possible through faith but understand that faith without works is dead. Also know that all things work together for good for God’s faithful daughters and that only women of great faith can truly have it all.
Shelly-Ann Harris is a communication specialist who has held senior positions at several public and private sector entities in Jamaica. She has also worked as a communication consultant and specialist for internationally funded projects locally in Jamaica and in the region. Follow this blog to get an alert when the next post is made or connect on Twitter @harrisshellyann