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Remember kindergarten? Sharing is still good!

momcom austinWe often keep our dreams hidden, thinking they are too weird or unrealistic. We keep our pain, hidden too, trying to look much stronger and more capable than we really feel.

We probably know that sharing your truth with other women is a great way to figure out that your dreams are not at all unreachable, that your pain is shared by others and that who you are deep inside is just exactly who you are supposed to be.

But let’s get real…who has time?  Busy moms, whether they work outside the home, work from home, or work caring for a home, the opportunity for real, can hardly find time to sleep and shower, much less dig into dreams.  When the kids are around, it’s hard to focus on big things like dreams or some-day-plans.  (Focus + Kids around? Yeah right!)

And there are some things you just don’t want the kids to hear. No need to say more, right?

Then there’s work…

Yeah, not a great place for deep heartfelt sharing. First of all, when you’re at work, people kind of expect you to, well, work. Unfair, I know, but there it is.

And then there’s privacy (in case you missed it, break rooms are a WONDERFUL place to say anything you want spread through the grapevine by the next meeting. Ditto for cubicles and the company parking lot!)

And then there’s your image.

While some workplaces are more accepting about personal and work lives connecting, most employers would just as soon pretend that you don’t have a personal life. So telling your coworker (or boss!) too much about your scary medical tests, the business you plan to open, or your dreams of chucking it all and moving to Belize is probably not going to earn you points when review and raise time rolls around.

The demise of built-in communities for sharing

Years ago Decades ago Centuries ago, women had communities of other women to turn to when life went haywire…or wonderful. They had tribes. Although we have gained so much in the decades since then, we lost something, too. We lost that ready at-hand support network of other women who understood where we were and what was happening in our lives.  For most of us, our college sorority days were the closest we ever came to experiencing an everyday community of women.

But that was then, and here we are now, married or not married, with kids to raise, and busy being a mom and a woman and maybe an employee or business owner.

And soooo many of us are literally starved for people who GET IT. And time to share what’s on our minds or in our hearts.

So what’s a mom to do? special

One of the great tools that have blossomed in recent years is the women’s convention. Some are just for bloggers, like BlogHer. Some are for women with a certain hobby, religion or ethnicity.

Others, like MomCom2014 are for moms. Moms who come together to share the things that make us as women, whether that’s a dream of owning a business, a book they’ve written or a life experience we share.

We get to share all those things that make us who we are in addition to being a mom.  At MomCom, we can sit together and talk about it. We can listen to speakers and attend workshops to feed our passions and boost newly-hatched dreams. We can listen to other moms’ stories.

But most of all, we can share. We can finally share that dream we’ve been keeping inside. Or let the tears flow when the speaker’s message touches our own secret pain.  We can talk over coffee or lunch, and exchange phone numbers and Facebook pages. We can sit up all night and talk if we need to, because these two days are just for us.

These gatherings let moms share stories of our lives, stories about our kids, and stories of hopes and dreams for the days and years to come. Sure it’s only two days, but the amazing thing is that when we go to these conferences and gatherings, it doesn’t end there.

We use the new information and the clarity and their our “tribe” to enrich our lives all year long. And the next year,  we add even more.

 

 

Dream a little dream of….

Grab a piece of paper and a pen. Got it?

Now quick…write down the five things you would MOST want to accomplish if anything was possible.

Don’t think about it.

Maine Beach

Just write whatever comes to your mind. You have 30 seconds for the list (not for each one.)

At the end of 30 seconds, stop where you are, even if you don’t have five things listed yet.

OK, time’s up.

Now flip that paper over.  Now write down the three big dreams you have for your life in the real world. No fair crossing out or putting it off until later.

Just write down three dreams you have for YOUR life.  Stop after 30 seconds, no matter how many you’ve written down.

Look at your paper. If you’re like most people who have done this exercise, you have two or three on your “if anything was possible” list. And maybe one on your real life list.

Yup, for most of us, our dreams, the very things that are supposed to be directing our path in life — simply don’t exist. Or at least, they don’t exist in a way that allows us to define them clearly on a piece of paper when some crazy lady tells you to write them down in 30 seconds!

So why that matters….

If you can’t clearly define what it is you dream about doing, there is very little chance you’ll actually do it. Because without dreams, it’s hard to set meaningful goals. And without goals…well, you know the way that road goes.

Don’t despair!

You are not alone!  Remember I said that most people can’t write down their dreams under pressure. Lots of us can’t write down anything!  But you can change that. You can turn that blank paper into a guide to your next steps. There are lots of ways to do that.

  • You can set aside some “just you” time to daydream and imagine where your life might go
  • You can start with your interests and talents and build on them to see what dreams come to mind (taking classes to expand your talents is a great tool for this.)
  • You can watch other people who are living their dreams to see how they got from point A to point B, and then apply those lessons to your own life
  • You can attend conferences or gatherings of people who want to see you find your dreams…and realize them. (MomCom2014 is a great example of this!*)
  • You can find a mentor who can help you identify your dreams, and follow them by setting goals and going for them
  • You can find a community of like-minded women who can help each other reach for their dreams, and keep them accountable along the way
  • You can just jump in with both feet and go for whatever you wrote down (or tried to write down), and see where you end up. It just might be beyond where you hoped!

Whatever method you chose, it’s a good idea to repeat the 30 second exercise every six months or so. See where you are. Keep track of the changes in what you write down, and how many dreams you can list. I think you’ll be amazed as the paper fills up!

*At MomCom 2014, we love having speakers who have followed a dream and achieved something amazing. No, we aren’t talking about the miracle success story. We’re talking about ordinary, hard-working moms who have grabbed a dream, set goals and made it to a point where it all become possible.  

This year, among our big dreamers we have Yasmin Diallo Turk, a mom who went from GED to PhD, and head of a major relief charity reaching women and children in war-torn regions of the world.  We’re also excited about hearing from Bridget Dunlap,  the one-woman dynamo who went from bartender and waitress to the force behind the Rainey Street revitalization.  The stage…and the tables throughout the room will be filled with even more dreamers of dreams. It might be a great place to find your own next-step in life, too. 

 

Success is…er, um, yeah

success imageThe title of this post is only a little bit in jest. Because the truth is,  I am really stumped.

The word seems so simple sometimes, like when I’m doing something easy to define like the laundry (everything de-stunk, and none of my husband’s underwear pink) or writing a blog post (no typos, and the #@#%^ WordPress engine didn’t lock up mid-publish) or leaving my yoga class (I can unknot myself and walk out to the car without screaming. )

It seems like a simple word, doesn’t it?

Most people would say that success is to get to a goal or goals in some part of life. And that’s great for an SAT answer or a vocab test or a small, easily defined task. But in the big picture part of life, success is much harder to pin down.

For some people, success is a great career with big financial rewards. For some it’s that elusive “balance” we’re all supposedly searching for. Success could also be a happy family, good health, a fit body or a worthwhile cause advanced.  And to make matters worse, the definition changes from year to year, day-to-day, (or for moms, from hour to hour!)

So what is success?

We all know we want “it” but most of us aren’t sure exactly what “it” is. That fuzziness is one of the reasons we chose the speakers and workshops we do for MomCom. Because we know that success comes in many packages.

For MomCom 2014, there are lots of versions of success on the stage.

For example, there’s Glennon Doyle Melton. This New York Times bestselling author and award-winning blogger is going to be sharing her story of success as a mom, success as a woman of faith, but most of all, success over alcoholism – and success in reclaiming her life with a joy and excitement it’s almost impossible to ignore. It’s contagious, in all the best ways. And great at helping you imagine your own version of success….and really believing it’s possible!

Another take on success will be coming from Alexa von Tobel, who was voted as “One of the Coolest Young Entrepreneurs” in Inc. Magazine’s 30 Under 30 feature, and was named as a “Young Global Leader” by the World Economic Forum. And those are just a few of her accolades.

But her financial expertise is not her only claim to success. This Harvard grad was disturbed to find that most of her peers had little or no personal financial knowledge. That discovery led to the founding of LearnVest, a way for everyone and anyone to become money-savvy, whether you’re already almost there or aren’t even sure where to begin. Alexa’s success is just as much in sharing money and finance information as it is in reaching her own career dreams.

There are dozens of other versions and definitions of success we’re bringing to MomCom 2014. Hundreds, if you count all the other women you’ll meet, each with their own vision and story to share.  That’s one of the coolest things about MomCom. It’s not just about someone standing up and telling you how to run your life to reach “success.” It’s about exploring and digging and listening and sharing and coming up at the end of the event with new ideas about what success might look like for you.

So where are you on the idea of success right now? What would lower case “success” look like to you? How about upper case “SUCCESS?”  Tell us your story!  We just might want to share it with everyone else here on the blog and at MomCom 2014!

We’re all in this together

A nearly wordless Wednesday. We are stronger, better, braver and more successful together! (One of the things I LOVE about MomCom! )

womens diversity

First you have to have a goal

post it noteNo matter who you are, how many kids you have, or what you consider your job to be, there is stuff you need to get done. And stuff you want to get done.

I’m not talking about the daily things we have to do like loading the dishwasher or taking the dog to the vet. I’m talking about the big things. The life-changing, dream-come-true things. The things that matter to you, in your heart of hearts.

You know that stuff is out there. You know you day-dream about it. Maybe even try to work on it sometimes. But the truth is, it’s just not happening.

Why?

Believe it or not, it’s probably because you don’t have a goal. Yeah, I can hear you saying “But I do! I want to open my own store or have a clean house or get in shape.” Yup, I’m still saying the problem is you don’t have a goal.

Why aren’t  those goals?

Most of us have lots of dreams. And ideas. And those are great. But dreams and ideas aren’t goals.

Take some of the examples I just mentioned. Like getting in shape. That sounds like a legit goal…. until you really dig into it.

What’s “in shape?” Is it a certain jean size? A certain number on the scale? A distance you can run?  Or something else entirely?

Or how about opening a store. What kind of store? Where? Online or brick and mortar? Where? Sometime soon, or someday in the distant future?

Dreams and ideas are wonderful. They’re starting points for change and growth. But when we mistake them for goals, we get into trouble, because we can’t pin them down or figure out how to start — or even know when we’ve arrived. So we flounder, making false starts and missteps, and end up feeling like failures. Then we give up or pack our dreams away for some day in the distant future.

But the truth is, we’re not failures because we never had a clear way to measure success. We never set a real goal.

So what’s different about a goal?

A goal is a clearly defined destination. Just like in a race, there’s a place designated as the finish line.  It’s marked with paint or a ribbon or a sign. And you don’t have to guess whether you’ve reached it or not.

People who make their dreams come true tend to be like those people in the race. They have a finish line defined before they start running.  They know which direction to run. And if they make a choice to leave the race without crossing the line, they can see why and where and how that decision was made. And if they break veer off and head somewhere else, you can bet they have a new finish line in mind. And they know exactly where it is and what it looks like.

Turning dreams into goals

So how do you make that leap? How do you take those big dreams and figure out what the goals are inside of them? The answer is in the details.

If you’re dreaming of opening a store, write a goal that includes a where, when and what. For example, “Open a children’s bookstore in suburban Austin by 2015.”  That goal directs your next steps. You now know that you need to look for a location for your bookstore. You’ll need to research costs and look at your finances to see how you can have the needed capital by 2015. You’ll need to decide how large or small notes on scrap of paperyour space will need to be, and what your bookstore will include (a reading space? seats for parents? Space for speakers or special events?)  You’ll need to order children’s wholesale book catalogs.

A side note: As I was writing this, I came across a post about goals from mompreneur blogger Stepfanie from Stepfanie’s Desk.  Her post reminded be sure you include family goals in the equation. Your family is a critical piece of your ultimate success…and of course, your happiness. Including them makes it more likely you will have things in place to move forward. Not including family goals might result in unrealistic or frustrating personal goals.

Having a goal takes you into the race, and gets you moving. Without it, you’re just a spectator, watching other people race by on their way to winning.

Tools for goal setting

There are some great tools out there to help you get started on redefining dreams into goals. Give a couple a try, and see what works for you. If none of those work, look for others. Or just use good old paper and pencil and write it all down, with the details. Once you have the finish line in sight, the road to success will be much easier to see…and follow.

Resources:

SMART Goals Worksheets from the Small Business Information section of About.com

GoalMigo interactive online goal setting tool (this one lets you share it with supportive friends to keep you on track)

Week Plan, a goal setting a tracking tool based on the 7 Habits of Highly Sucessful People by Stephen Covey

Workshops and speakers at MomCom 2014