Now more than ever, we are struggling with how to create positive change while juggling our daily life priorities. There is so much work to be done that it can become overwhelming at times. And fitting activism into the nooks and crannies of available time in-between laundry, errands, meal prep, kid functions, work obligations, and now the holiday season, seems like an impossible feat.
I recently attended the NC Women’s Summit presented by Women AdvaNCe with the primary intent of figuring out how I can do more to create positive change. And I’ll be honest, most of the women I met there WERE doing huge things to create change. I was in awe of them and all that they were accomplishing for us. In awe of the energy and time they gave to truly moving mountains.
I spent much of the day searching for ways to be involved that would work within my busy life. Should I get a job at an organization doing good? What about tackling a cause within my community? Maybe I should commit to attending meetings around an issue, getting more involved in politics, or volunteering every Saturday? Nothing seemed to fit. Then, during a session on the gender pay gap I had an epiphany which enabled me to let myself out of my shame loop and start acting from an inspired place.
Did you know that women in North Carolina earn an average of $8,600 less than men annually? That’s according to a report published in May, commissioned by the North Carolina Council for Women and Youth Involvement. While I know firsthand how gender inequality thrives in the workplace, I suddenly realized that I don’t think about this day-to-day because it’s generally not an issue for me. Why? Because I have been an entrepreneur for the past 10 years.
I reframed my “nooks and crannies” activism with my experience as an entrepreneur and saw all that I have been doing to empower myself and other women. In every business I’ve created, I have employed primarily women, I am paid equally to a man, I get to choose who I work with, and I don’t have to fight for a raise or constantly compare my pay to that of my male colleagues.
I fire disrespectful clients, take joy in supporting other women through shared work, take a day off when I need it, build a work schedule that supports my personal priorities of family and self care, and make a good living doing work I enjoy.
It’s not always easy. I work hard and I’ve invested in my career, and nurturing and running a business has its own extra layer of tasks. But my kids need me to be present more than ever right now and my parents are aging and I’m reminded that time is limited. And deep down, I just plain believe that we deserve to have the opportunity to be everything we want to be, even when that vision and those priorities shift on a daily basis. And while I may not have space at the moment to push for workplace equality in a focused way, there is SO MUCH POWER in honoring what we do every day to nurture goodness.
We hear about the enormous benefits of female entrepreneurship in developing countries all the time, such as job creation, economic growth and empowerment, and independence. Why not view it as having the same benefits here in the U.S.? Being an entrepreneur enables women to secure our own independence and financial security. It helps equalize the playing field for other working women and gives us the power to make the choices we want and build a life that nurtures all that we are while removing at least some of the barriers to workplace equality.
As you look ahead to the endless opportunities offered by 2019, think about how you’d set up your life and your schedule if no boundaries existed. Give yourself the space to envision your dream life. Then step back and figure out how you can move toward that reality. It may feel uncomfortable to give yourself the freedom of those possibilities, and that’s okay. The biggest growth opportunities you’ll encounter in life usually come with a healthy dose of fear and apprehension.
If and when you’re ready to take the leap toward building a business of your own, there are a plethora of resources available right here in North Carolina to help. Here are a few to get you started:
- The Western Women’s Business Center has a wealth of programs, technical assistance and capital to help you launch and build your business.
- Supportedly can connect you to free and low cost support programs, events and content.
- SCORE provides free counseling support for startups and small businesses.
- Business Link North Carolina offers free services and has a handy step-by-step startup task list available on the home page.