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I find it equally surprising and comforting that so many people took the time to comment on a post I wrote back in June 2012 titled “I’m leaving my job” because, at the time, I wrote it mainly to reassure myself I was making the right choice. I honestly didn’t expect feedback in response to what I wrote.

Since that initial post sparked a lot of well wishers to chime in and let me know I would be ok, I thought it would be fitting to follow-up three years later with an update. I AM better than ok.

You see, I left a corporation that had limitless time attached to it (no, that’s not entirely true, there is no place that is 100% safe). But I did say goodbye to a company with seemingly more security than I have now.

Back then I accepted a new role that is tied to a company that was awarded a defined-period-of-time contract to do business. I live with the knowledge that, as early as this time next year, I could be job hunting again if we aren’t re-awarded new business.

I like to talk the talk, but not necessarily walk the walk, when it comes to embracing change.

I know without a doubt that every leap I’ve made up to this point in my life has resulted in being better off than where I was before. Yet, it never gets un-scary to take that leap, does it?

There are likely more than a few of you on the fence right now struggling with an important life change. I’m here to tell you…it WILL be better than ok.

  • It will be better than ok so long as you’ve weighed your options (never underestimate a pros/cons list) and it feels like it’s a choice you can accept and embrace.
  • It will be better than ok if you can imagine the possibilities of pursuing something that calls to you without fear of the unknown blocking your perspective.
  • It will be better than ok if it makes it easier for you to explain to your children why you choose to go to work because, believe it or not, they are interested in knowing what it is that you do all day and why you do it.

If you are anything like me, you started working because you wanted to somehow make a difference along with a paycheck. You wanted to use your talents and work alongside compelling colleagues that brought out the best in you. You didn’t mind putting in extra hours when no one cared that you did because you thought your work would define your greatness.

Allow me to let you in on a little secret….

…. (come close and listen, this is good stuff)….

…. life happens when you least expect it.

It happened to me.

I graduated college, got married, landed a job, lived in a few apartments, played in slow pitch softball and volleyball leagues, bought a house, had three children, stopped playing all previously mentioned activities, leaned on and laughed with girlfriends, signed my kids up for too many activities, watched loved ones get sick, rejoiced when some got better, said goodbye to others forever, and started to listen more than I talked.

That last one continues to be a struggle.

This time in my life, this job, has given me opportunities that I won’t take for granted. This phase of my career has given me the chance to make an impression on my kids.

Lexington baby shower4

Helping a little guy with the ring toss game at a community event.

I have more life experience and, as a result, recognize how different people deemed “in charge” have either helped or hindered my progress over the years. Some were leaders who encouraged new ideas, other were followers who trickled down orders.

Because life happens, I now know how to take better care of the people who rely on me from day-to-day. I’m handling less projects and more people.

People are saying things like “Your communication was excellent,” and “I appreciate you more than you know.” Amazing the types of things you hear when you stop doing all of the talking!

Yet the future remains uncertain.

If it all comes to an end in a year’s time, I will never regret making that leap.

Because…I am better than ok. And you will be too.

Written by Heidi Woodard

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Remember that piece of advice I wrote for you last year about how I remembered what it felt like to be a 12-year old girl in seventh grade whose primary goal was to snag the boy with Vanilla Ice hair? The one that I forced you to read on the way to football practice? About treating girls with respect while also not falling victim to their voodoo magic?

The one you took roughly 25 seconds to scan?

I could tell it sunk in deep. You thoroughly appreciated my insight.

As evidenced by your head nod, grunt, and total indifference.

Lucky for you, I REMEMBER EIGHTH GRADE TOO. I feel like I would be robbing you of a treasure chest full of mom knowledge if I didn’t impart my wisdom on you again this year.

So here goes…

Sports are your world right now. Look, I toooeeetally get it. It’s hard to beat that feeling of competing alongside and against your friends. It’s fun to be cheered for at pep rallies and to have your locker decorated on game day. Just remember to keep your eyes open to new areas of interest too. Don’t let your jock friends be your only friends.

Were you aware your mom was quite the singer back in the day? Wait, scratch that. Technically, if we’re being real, mom went to a small enough school to be deemed “not as tonally terrible” as the dozen or so other kids who tried out for musicals so she landed solos in a select few.

I was going to be nicer to my former cast members, but no one seemed to have kept a picture of me as Alice in Alice in Wonderland our eighth grade year (which, frankly, floored me) so I’m letting the claws and honesty come out.

I received a Tony nod back in 1989 with my vivid portrayal of Jack's mom - struggling to keep him off the beanstalk and in my arms.

I received a Tony nod as a 7th grader back in 1989 with my vivid portrayal of Jack’s mom – struggling to keep him off the Beanstalk and in my protective arms. #mothersinstinct

Whatever you do and no matter how old you might feel, remember that no one has your back like your mom does.

teen textYou can publicly ignore me around your friends and then come to me when you need my help. I get it. I used to do the same to my parents.

But my parents didn’t have social media to pay me back.

overconfident pitcher tweetYour dad had interests outside of sports in eighth grade too. I had the privilege of listening to him recite the entire soundtrack of Straight Outta Compton while sitting next to him last Friday night at the movies. Who knew he was a closet rapper back in the day? Obviously NOT your grandma or grandpa with those lyrics! He kept that talent well hidden from them.

You seemed to have grown about half a foot over the last year. This increase in height has made you jump to the conclusion that there should be a proportionate increase in your level of freedom and independence from your dad and me. We’re here to remind you on a daily basis that you are still 13.

I’ll try to continue to give you some slack as long as you don’t give me too much of an attitude. A little attitude is understandable. That’s how we define ourselves in this world after all…especially in eighth grade.

mom and Owen

I’m confident you will conquer this – your final year of junior high. I feel myself taking shallow breaths anytime I think about how few days remain between now and your freshman year of high school.

But don’t you fret. I’ll offer up some ninth grade wisdom soon enough.

Written by Heidi Woodard

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Let’s all gather round. I’m talking to you, parents of children who compete in sports.

I don’t know if it’s the same in your household, but my family is currently in a sweet spot known as the “off season,” when the only thing on our plates is weekly practice in preparation for summer baseball. My kids are actually adhering to a real bedtime routine. My husband and I have sat across from one another at our own dining room table and had a conversation while enjoying dinner together. I’ve both watched my DVR’d shows and napped unapologetically. It’s been surreal.

My shoulders are a little less tense. My speed is a bit slower. My breaths are much deeper.

Yet part of me misses the frenzy. The dirt and sunflower seeds are calling.

There’s a reason why the beginning of every sports season is exciting. Everyone starts with a 0-0 record and a pretty good attitude.

I’m here to tell you…the joy does not have to rise or fall in direct correlation with your kid’s success or lack there of. You can control your outlook in spite of external influences.

Perhaps you’ve heard about the study performed by Rob Miller and Bruce E. Brown, who run a coaching consultation business called Proactive Coaching LLC? For three decades, Miller and Brown asked college athletes about their parents’ behaviors; specifically, what their parents did right versus what their parents did wrong in an effort to support their budding stars?

The athletes overwhelmingly responded that the feedback that resonated the most positively with them consisted of six, simple, yet incredibly powerful words:

Top athletes reported that the most uplifting phrase they heard their parents tell them time and time again was ‘I love to watch you play.’

The worst thing that parents did, in the opinion of their kids, was critiquing or questioning them immediately following the game or competition.

So, to me, the easiest way to ensure I (and you) continue to feel positive as our budding athletes transition from the practice season to the actual season is by reminding them how much we love to watch them play. And that phrase should be the honest to goodness truth when it comes out of our mouths, regardless of the game outcome.

If we don’t mean it, then why invest the time, money, effort, and – most importantly – our children’s emotional well being by having them pursue sports?

I no longer routinely ask my kids if they had fun at the end of every game. Losing doesn’t feel fun. I don’t expect to see them muster up a smile after every final out.

But I also want them to know how to to recovery gracefully from setbacks, to not hang their heads, and to get back up when they’ve fallen.

As parents, we need to be able to hold ourselves to the same level of accountability.

Because, in the end, we must remember how much we not only love to watch them succeed, but how much we love to watch our children play. They need to be allowed to do the latter before they are ever capable of doing the former.

Written by Heidi Woodard