Today’s guest blogger Dana Barka is the President of Barka Communications, Inc. After 10+ years in the marketing arena she decided to take her career path into her own hands. She is a mom, wife, entrepreneur and I am proud to say my mentor and friend. She will be sharing knowledge on how she started her business, growing through the corporate ranks and much more. We are happy to have her in the Mid-WYFE Crisis family!
You’re going to die one day. Yes, you. It doesn’t matter if you’re 10 years old or 100 years old, someday, you’re going to die. And even if you believe in heaven (I do), and you believe that you’re going (I am), you still have one shot at this life.
So my question to you is, are you living the life you want to live?
I’ve been asking myself that question for well over a decade. You see, I did everything the way I was supposed to do it. I earned good grades in school. I received an academic scholarship to the big state college. I completed my journalism degree in 4 years. Right out of school, I got an internship in my field that was converted into my first full-time job. I climbed the corporate ladder quicker than most. By age 33, I was married with one child, making almost six figures in a major city. I had it all.
And I was miserable.
My job paid well, but my creativity was stifled. I was working up to 80 hours per week, leaving my son with family members and sometimes going for days without seeing him. I was traveling to exotic cities and I would never even leave the hotel room except to perform my required duties – which means every city began to look the same to me.
I would daydream about starting my own business, or finding a job that would actually fit MY desired lifestyle instead of vice versa, but it seemed so far away. Until suddenly I knew I had to take the plunge. One day, an executive wrote a hateful email to me and copied half a dozen high-level managers. It was intended to humiliate me, and it did the trick. It was at that very moment, a lovely day in June, where I knew life as I knew it was going to come to an end.
Within minutes, I ordered 3 books on entrepreneurship from Amazon.com. I waited. I did a budget that was so lean we barely had room for food or gas. My family would live without certain things, but we would save enough money to pay our bills for a few months. I read the books I ordered. I set up lunches with every entrepreneur I knew – I paid for their food, but they could barely eat because I was drilling them with questions. I absorbed everything I could get my hands on. I was afraid – I was choosing to step off the fast track – but the more I learned, the more the fear subsided.
10 months after that fateful email, it was time. I quit my job. I opened up shop. I prepared for utter and complete failure. But I flourished. Today, my clients include small businesses and Fortune 500 companies. Just a few weeks ago, I changed my hours to accommodate my family’s needs, and I will only work school hours. I joined a gym and started losing weight. I’m actually making my work fit my needs instead of living to work! I never thought it was possible, and to this day I’m shocked that it’s possible to live a fulfilling, nurturing life while providing services that people need to help their businesses grow.
Ever since launching my communications firm, the number one comment I receive from other 20- and 30-something year old moms like me is, “I sure wish I could do that.” My response is always, “What’s stopping you?” In general, most people who are reasonably healthy receive the same opportunities in this life. Almost everyone goes to school, gets a job and has a family. But not everyone lives the quality of life they crave.
What would it take for you to design the life you want? Do you need money? Pay off your car early. Take on side work that brings in steady, guaranteed cash. Sell stuff on Craigslist. Visit 100startup.com and learn how many businesses were started on $100 or less.
Do you need more education? There are more flexible options for getting educated than ever before these days. Take one step forward. Look up degree options and tuition rates. Write down the schools that you find most interesting. Set a date on when you will enroll.
Are you unsure about whether your skills are marketable? Ask those around you if your skills are viable. Try to land a single client, even if it’s on the side, and ask what they do or don’t like about the products or services you provide.
I’ve asked many women that lament about business ownership, or even just more flexible jobs, about what’s barring them from getting what they want, and I have yet to hear an excuse that can’t be conquered. I don’t claim to know your personal situation, and everyone is different, but there’s always a way to achieve the life you want, even if it takes time to get there. Sometimes, just setting up a timeline is enough to get you motivated.
Personally, the key to designing a life that works for me and my family was to take all the fear and apprehension and turn it into my primary driver. Today when I feel fear, I recognize it as an opportunity to take a risk, or grow, or learn.
What about you? Have you or do you plan to design a life that works for you? What are you working on right now to nurture your life?