Going Solo: What it Means for Your Career

I started working in a restaurant the day I turned 14 – which was the legal age in my state, at the time. I was making $4.25/hour and couldn’t be more proud of my paycheck. At the time, I felt as though I had ‘finally arrived’ into adulthood. Wow, what little I knew!!

I have always worked, too much at times, and strived for the independence that it allowed me. My Mom always told me growing up: Make sure you make enough money to support yourself – you can’t lean on anyone else except yourself.

That mantra stuck with me, and perhaps was the driving force behind my motivation to succeed. Immediately after college I received a job offer and quickly began to climb the corporate ladder. I was fortunate enough to continue working after I had my first child, and did so from home, which made my bond with her that much stronger. My career progressed quickly, which included annual promotions, regular travel, late nights, client meetings, etc. I was loving it – and doing very well, until my marriage started to unfold.

For me, I wouldn’t say that it ‘ruined’ my career, but it sure did throw a wrench into things. I wasn’t sleeping well, which impacted my performance. I was emotionally unstable, constantly questioning my judgement and ability as a parent, which trickled over into my ability as a manager and a trusted source within my organization. I was stressed financially, and was having to realign my personal expenses in ways that I couldn’t have prepared for, which meant having some difficult discussions with my HR Manager. My mind constantly wondered, causing me to seem disconnected at work, which became evident to my colleagues.

This difficult phase lasted, too, probably longer than most. I did not have an amicable divorce, which meant I was constantly dealing with harassing texts and emails from my ex who just couldn’t move forward with his life. That, coupled with the stress of the divorce and the ongoing demands of my career, stretched me so thin that I felt as though I was going to crumble. I couldn’t handle it. It all became just too much.

During this time I was provided some very helpful resources that enabled better communication between my ex and I, which I encourage you to entertain, if communication is an issue, or just becomes too much.

Here are a few ideas to help with communication, if you need it:

CoParently: Coparently offers online and mobile communication tools to help co-parents improve calendaring issues, communicate more clearly, track shared expenses, and store accurate, up-to-date contact information. The solution costs $99 per year, per parent, or $9.99 per month.

Our Family Wizard: Our Family Wizard® is an online tool designed specifically for co-parenting families. It allows parents to manage all aspects of their shared parenting agreement online and in one place, from calendars to expenses. The company even offers Apple and Android apps for easy communication on the go.

Cozi: Cozi is a free online calendar program that’s ideal for co-parenting communication. In addition to shared calendar pages, it also offers free mobile options, shopping lists, meal planning, to do lists, and more.

Looking back – and mind you, hindsight is always 20/20 – I learned that there were two paths I could have taken: Let myself succumb to the guilt and feelings of failure by drowning myself in wine and lengthy venting sessions to my girlfriends, or, realize this path is for the better and move forward in as graceful a way that I could, so as to set a good example for my kids.

Sure, I spent a few nights crying myself to sleep questioning my decision, but at the end of the day, I knew, deep down, that this was the best path for me and my kids – and I had to let that drive me to continue to succeed, no matter how hard that might be. I decided that divorce would not be what would take me down – and that I was much stronger than that.

Picking myself back up and starting down the path of success post-divorce was not easy. In fact, it was really, really hard. But, just as I had kept momentum in my career by aiming towards particular goals, I had to do the same with my personal life.

What did I want to achieve? Who did I want to become? What were the areas in my life that I’ve learned about that needed personal improvement and growth?

One tool that helped me along this journey (in addition to amazing support from my friends and family) was The Passion Test, a New York Times Bestseller, authored by Janet Bray Attwood and Chris Attwood. It was designed to help people discover their passions and begin really living them.

I thought this concept was something silly, but to be honest, it really made me realize what it was in life that brought me true passion, and helped me devise a plan to achieve it, with a big focus of influencing my career path. Another benefit of taking this test was that it enabled me to see the big picture in life, vs the day-to-day stresses of just ‘managing things.’

I think it’s very easy for us to get caught up in the logistics of life that we lose sight of what’s really important. It sounds cliche, but with tragedy comes silver linings; you just have to be open minded enough to see it.

My career path is back on track – so much so that I decided to start my own business. I want to have control over my destiny, and fill my life with things that I’m really, truly passionate about. I realize not everyone is the position to do the same, but just being open to opportunities and really seeing life through an opportunistic view vs a chore, will completely change your outlook on things, and hopefully, get you back on track as well.

And hey – why not entertain a side hustle while you’re working? That’s how a lot of entrepreneurs get started. Take any free time you have and really put some thought into it. You never know what could come out on the other end.

You got this!