“Why do you even work?”
Stop for a minute to think about how you would feel if someone asked you this question. What emotions would it evoke and how would you respond to them?
This was a question posed to me not so long ago and is probably one of the most hurtful things someone has said to me. To make matters worse, this question wasn’t posed by a stranger.
Although we could afford to live off my husband’s salary alone, my decision to work is not driven by our personal finances. I have a rewarding and meaningful career as a Financial Advisor and business owner that directly impacts the livelihood and financial well-being of my clients and employees. How is that not reason enough to work?
Don’t get me wrong … it’s not like the idea has never crossed my mind. The first time was on a trip to NYC to visit my college roommate. It was the first year Al and I were married. During this trip, we went shopping and popped into the Bloomingdale’s flagship store on 59th. Knowing I was going there, I had asked Al for his Bloomingdale’s credit card and used it to go shopping. I bought myself a pair of shoes and a Christmas present for my mother-in-law. Brown bags in hand, I distinctly remember walking out of the store thinking, could I get used to this? And just as quickly as the thought crossed my mind, I laughed at myself knowing I would never be ok with that.
The second time I considered leaving the workforce was after my second son, Christian, was born. I was struggling with adjusting to two kids under two and being self-employed. When you are self-employed, you don’t have a proper maternity leave. There is no one else to respond to emails, call clients back, place trades, and all the other things that go hand in hand with servicing your clients. I struggled a lot during this time and felt like a mediocre mom and mediocre advisor to my clients.
Ultimately, I persevered because when I checked in with myself – my goals, my values and my aspirations – throwing in the towel was not an option. Instead, I choose to scale back and only service existing clients. During this time, I purposefully did not to take on new clients and grow my business. I was able to do this because we had my husband’s steady, consistent W-2 income.
In my work as a Financial Advisor, I have witnessed the strain finances can cause in relationships, particularly when there is only one breadwinner. It is a significant burden to carry for this person and can be a source of tension. Personally, I know that I have been more assertive about how I think we should spend and save money as my personal income has grown, than in the earlier years when I wasn’t contributing as much as my husband to our household income.
Now that my boys are five and seven, in school, and a little more independent, I have been able to shift more time and energy into my business. I have actively been blogging for two years and hosting quarterly workshops; I have also hired employees and recently moved to a new, larger office with the goal of building a team.
In a way, it feels like a re-birth, and I am finding a new voice for myself. And it is all driven by my WHY:
- To lead by example by sharing my story and practicing what I preach
- To help my clients identify their WHY and create a plan to help get them there
- To recruit and mentor more women into the financial services industry because we are grossly underrepresented (Women represent just 15% of all financial advisors!)
I am sharing my WHY with you because we are preparing for our “Funding and Finding Your Why” workshop on Tuesday April 12th. An opportunity to bring together our community of women to reflect on the financial landscape specific to women’s perspectives, experiences and realities. To learn more, click here.
I am curious, what is your WHY?