Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Four Day Work Week

It seems like no matter how hard we work and the better we become at what we do, we never feel appropriately compensated. The money is never enough. The more you have, the more you need and want. And at the end of the day, what is it that we really need and want? Depending on the individual it may be more money, but for me, more valuable than money is more time, more flexibility and more freedom.

Balancing work with a family is hard. No one ever said it would be easy, but females like me growing up in the 70’s were promised more. It seemed that we were taught that we could have it all. An empty promise at best, taught to us by women hoping to achieve it all. Don’t get me wrong, without the bra-burners of the late 60's and early 70’s, the Suffragettes of the early 1900’s, and many women before that, we’d have no rights at all. And while there have been times in our history when women have filled men’s jobs, prior to the 1970’s most women were not both tending house and working full-time. And if they were, they rarely filled high-powered career roles. Nonetheless, the bra-burning mothers of the 70’s raised a female generation to think they could have it all. Truth is, we can have it all, but something has to give. So where do we place the sacrifice?

Inevitably, as a woman, wife and mother, personal sacrifices are made. The household is a business and guess what; we (the women) are the CEOs. That’s not to say our husband and children do not help out, but it’s usually up to the women to set the rules and dish out the duties. So without doing anything but saying ‘I do’ and bearing children – our biological birth rite - we make a sacrifice… that of our personal time and freedom. At first I found this to be a challenge, but no longer do I feel that my personal time is a sacrifice compared to what I have gained. But when you start to pile on your plate a 9-5 job, or career, (as if that makes it sound better) then your time is really sacrificed, and for what? Who really reaps the benefits? We get the paycheck, but someone else has the flexibility, freedom and finances of owning the business. This is why women must work smart – to find a balance between time and freedom but still earn the big bucks, hence Women Work Smart, Inc. We know we are smart…If we weren’t, we would not be able to keep up the pace of the juggling act it takes these days to run a household – the one to which you contribute your blood, sweat, tears AND paycheck. And if you can be the CEO of that operation while holding down a 9-5, why not be the CEO of your own profitable business?

If time is more precious than money, and you are more willing to sacrifice career over family, then start working smart by negotiating a four-day work week as a salary increase. That is, see if your boss is willing to allow you to work a shorter week. Instead of a 40-hour, 5-day work week see if you can arrange a 32-hour, four-day work week at your current salary and in-lieu of any annual monetary raises. A few girlfriends of mine have been very successful negotiating this situation, and they cannot be happier. Occasionally, their supervisors will ask them to work an extra day for a bit more money, but they always say no because time is more important to them than climbing the corporate ladder. For some us the corporate grass is not necessarily greener, but we still must hail our founding foremothers who proudly fought for equal rights and taught us that we can do anything a man can do – including owning and running our own businesses.

While I was not as successful as some of my soul sisters in negotiating a four-day work week, I have found another way to still make Women Work Smart a reality. Instead of having one extra day each week to build the business, I have one extra hour each day. That said, I dedicate one hour, Monday-Friday, working on my business plan, website, etc. According to a very wise friend of mine, an empire can be built dedicating your focus to one hour everyday. So let’s see how far Women Work Smart has come after only one month of applying the one hour per day motto.

Although I didn’t get my four-day work week, I did get a nice raise. After all, we still have to bring home the bacon… then fry it up in a pan, then wash the pan … well you get the point.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Old Friends and Spontaneity

Yesterday was a fabulous day. Old friends and spontaneity, the perfect elixir.

It was a beautiful day, and with my 4-year old in tow, I set out to meet some delicious old friends. You know the kind ... the free-flowing conversations so meaty and deep you can truly sink your heart, mind and teeth into them. And unlike our usual planned 'girl' get togethers, this one was completely spontaneous. I love spontaneity, and man do I miss the ability to act on it. Marriage, kids, responsibility, all the elements of adulthood that sometimes make spur of the moment engagements hard, if not impossible. Our get togethers are usually planned, and making the arrangments can be painstaking... Five to eight email exchanges among us just to verify which dates on the calendar are free for all of us. By the time the strand of emails come to a close, the date is usually so far off in the distance its months away. The process alone is the antithesis of spontaneity. But not this encounter. This time was perfect ... just meant to be, I guess.

And man was I tired, but I wasn't going to let lack of sleep stop me from spur of the moment fun. The night before, my 4-year old decided that wake up time was 4 AM, and that I needed to be her playmate. Ah, restful sleep, another quality of life luxury out the window with parenting. Tired as we were, we managed to trudge on through the next day, and I'm so glad we did because this tired mom needed some down and out girl time.

I think we all can agree that one thing universally female is the need to meet up with other women. Not just any women, but THE women who have helped shape us into the people we are today. THE women with whom you share your secrets, desires, and the you name it [insert answer here]. Nothing interferes with the need - there are no boundaries that cannot be overcome. If one of THE women in your life moves out of your zipcode, the connection stays strong, even if face to face encounters are few and far between. It just doesn't matter. Once that connecton is made, the bond lasts forever, and so does the need to converse with THAT woman.

So this past Sunday I got to spend some time with some of THE women in my life. Women I met in the Peace Corps, halfway across the globe. Now, ten plus years later, we live within 60 miles of one another, and for years we didn't even know it! None of us born where we live today, yet something brought each of us here... I guess it was just meant to be.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Day of Enlightenment

Today is the day I stop talking and start doing.

For some time now I have realized that my career must have a sense of importance, usefulness, be heart-felt and somehow help others and benefit my community. Having the flexibilty and freedom of self-employment while performing it, that is my dream...

Thanks to some fabulous friends and many months of introspection, I now know how all aspects of my abilities, knowledge, passion and desire to work hard and help others can work together to form the perfect storm.

Today, Women Work Smart was born. Its principles, foundation and pilars are all the inspiration I need to take charge, act now and push forward.