Ambition can be a wondrous thing and yet it can create total havoc in one’s life. There was a time in my life where the level of my ambition was evidenced with my desire and actions to get to the top. I would work hard to get a promotion; when I received one I would immediately start working toward the next one and so on. When I was younger my dream was to have my own company, however, my more immediate goal was to be a vice president or a partner. Unlike those who felt they were smart enough and skilled enough to start their own companies right out of school, it was important to me to gain all of the knowledge and experience I possibly could before going on my own to serve clients.
Getting back to my ambition trail, in addition to wanting to become part of top management I wanted to set precedence for the women who worked for me and for my children’s future opportunities. You see when I could arrange it I worked on a flex schedule, that is a reduced work week and a bit of telecommuting. I wanted to prove that not only could work be done under this situation, but it could be done well, even when managing other employees. I did make it to managerial positions and participated in leadership roles that redefined the company I worked with on special projects. I always made sure I was continually learning new things and sharing experiences and knowledge with those who worked for and with me. The problem is that my career wasn’t necessarily on a flex schedule in the way that I had initially planned. Because of my flexible schedule I often had to work harder, and smarter, to prove to those executives or partners above me that it could be done. This is a difficult task when you’re working with people who lived and breathed old school.
Eventually the economy started to take a turn and regulations started to come down on our industry leading firms to lay off middle management positions. I was fortunately one of those laid off. Fortunately you may ask; are you kidding? Absolutely not! Of course when I was going through it my initial thoughts were the norm: what am I going to do now? Do I want to stay in this field or try something new? How am I going to find another job? Will I be able to work under a flexible work arrangement again? By this time I had two young sons and over 15 years of experience; my husband’s business was going well. With much thought I realized what I really wanted was to start my own business, and so I did. I was lucky enough to have a support system in my family, especially of my husband. Don’t get me wrong having your own business is a lot of hard work and does require a lot of hours; so why would I do it? There are two big reasons. First it is the satisfaction of knowing you’re doing it for yourself and your family; in other words the buck stops here. Secondly despite putting in the hours when needed you still have control and flexibility as to when you put in those hours, leaving me the time I wanted with my sons. Of course, I had the added advantage of being able to service the clients I wanted to and provide the services I wanted to; it was a great feeling helping those entrepreneurs who wanted to help the economy in their own way, but didn’t necessarily understand the ins and outs or the numbers.