As a parent, the idea of disrupting corporate America, pursuing passion and living in the grey is so exciting. I feel such pride that our generation is fundamentally changing the way our kids will work.
At the same time, I’ve reflected a lot on whether being a parent impacts your ability to take big risks. Naturally, the stakes for parents are higher. It’s not just a personal money issue. The well-being of your family might be on the line.
All of this was running through my mind last year when my husband and I hit a point where we needed a change. I was miserable in my job and couldn’t suppress this nagging feeling that I needed to spend more time with our kids. So we talked about our options:
- I could quit and stay home with our kids
- I could quit and pursue my marketing consulting business full time
- I could find another job and pursue consulting on the side
The conversation ultimately came back to the tension between our desires and how our decisions could impact our kids. But instead of getting stuck in indecision, we came up with a plan that would address our need for change and our family’s well-being. When you find yourself unable to make up your mind about a career decision, try taking these four steps:
1. Clearly outline your financials
First, we needed to be able to compare our options objectively and understand the level of financial risk they presented. I created a spreadsheet with all the relevant factors (income, bills, savings, and spending money). This way, we were able to see the financial impact of each scenario side by side. It helped arm us with concrete facts and made it easier to know exactly what we were sacrificing, which in turn took some of the emotional difficulty out of our decision.
2. Weigh in additional pros and cons
Once we had a good financial comparison, we listed the rest of the pros and cons associated with each option. This included things like the time I would get to spend with our kids, schedule flexibility, contributions to savings and retirement, ability to pay for private school and more. These will be different for everyone.
We also factored in our financial safety net, the sacrifices we’d have to make, how long we could realistically live on one salary, and what I could bring in should I start my own business.
3. Set a goal.
Armed with a full picture of our options, we decided to set a savings goal of 6 months worth of income before making any big changes. All of our options were technically possible, but because of our kids we needed a bigger savings cushion.
Don’t stop there. We re-evaluate our situation at the end of every month because all of these factors can change quickly.
As of this month, I’m excited to say we exceeded our savings goal and I have officially started a new career! The summer brought a couple surprise expenses which detoured our goal date by a month, but we pivoted as needed and re-established our goal.
I feel motivated by the fact that we’ve become more flexible while still keeping true to our goals. We are working together more than we ever have and are much more in tune with what we ultimately want to get out of our lives. In other words, we are living our grey.
At the end of the day, remember that this is your path. Consider your options and unique challenges, set goals and constantly re-evaluate. This way, you’ll make real progress while cutting down on stress along the way.