accountability

Septembers Here…But is It Actually Easier?

Ah September. If you can actually remember what life was like pre-pandemic, September used to feel like a huge shift for us Juggling Momworking moms, with an audible sigh of relief heard from coast to coast. While having our kids home to spend time by the pool and doing crafts is a time of joy, for solopreneurs who have always run our small businesses from home, summer has always involved juggling lots of balls. This year, 2020, has presented a whole new set of challenges, and if your family is like mine, your kids are “back in school” without leaving your house. While I confess that I am enjoying the extra time I have with my teens, it does present a lot of challenges for those of us whose career depends on quiet in the recording booth. Doors slamming, thumping and thudding on the steps, random proclamations- these barely scrape the barrel of what the new normal is like. The quietude is gone and with it I have, you guessed it, more balls to juggle as both my children and my husband are now in the house. All day. Every day. So no, this September, being a working mom and small business owner it is not easier, but I do have some strategies for coping in order to ensure that my goals stay in clear focus.

Re-Establishing Work Routines and Mom Routines.

The school year is nine months long. It is extremely likely that school kids will be home through June. So, Re-establishing a daily routine and maintaining rhythm is really important. As a working mom, we always wear two hats, and we need to keep balance. If one shifts out of balance, it effects the other and life suddenly becomes uneasy. For me, aspects of my work routine include:

  • auditions
  • meditation
  • completing booked work
  • thank you notes
  • marketing/client outreach
  • invoicing

Aspects of my mom routine include:

  • cooking
  • laundry
  • grocery shopping
  • cleaning the house
  • dog responsibilities: walking, preparing and freezing kongs, etc.
  • homework help
  • amazon orders

Focusing On Wellness

In order to maintain the balance between my role as a mom and my life as a professional voice over actor, accountability in my professional career is extremely important. I have blogged before about my group, but one of our touch points is health and wellness. When we started reporting on this years ago, I did not realize that the relevance of this area would increase in Laura Schreiber Walking Two Dogsimportance. Who could have predicted a pandemic? Every day wellness is a priority, including: steaming, supplements, eating well, etc.

Walking is one of the goals I focus on in my healthy living strategy. I love walking with my dogs and we walk four to five miles a day. My beloved dogs count on the movement and frankly, as I work in a padded foam booth, I need to get out and breath the fresh air. The pandemic can be so isolating, but when we walk I talk to my husband and kids. We also run into neighbors on the street and it is such a wonderful mental break. Walking, then, provides both an emotional and a physical benefit. The walking is essential to my wellness.

Pilates is another focus of mine. After a difficult twin pregnancy, I have spent years rebuilding my core. I love that through the pilates I work on my breathing and that the workouts are total body workouts. I am learning to make connections and to listen to myself. Work as a voice over actor so much depends on connecting with people and connecting with scripts, so if I am connected with myself as a foundation of it all, I work better. At the start of every session, my instructor asks how I am feeling and for me to be aware of where my body is starting. I wish that I had people teach be to be aware of my physical state in this way when I was 12 years old. I think I would have treated myself very differently. In any event, I am thankful for this journey that I am on and pilates helps me very much.

Strategies to Support Success

As a momtrepreneur, I try to set a framework for me to thrive and to make good choices. Here are a few of the things that have helped me during the pandemic:

  • Metabolism Mojo with Betsy Markle @ https://www.facebook.com/groups/334541130558104: Betsy is a brilliant nutritionist that I happened to grow up with in Pennsylvania. She is now based in Florida and I look forward to every post, recipe, and Facebook Live. She has made our shelter in place better with her recipes. I also highly encourage you to watch her recent coffee video.
  • Daily Harvest: I am so thankful to have found this site of healthy food options. We buy the grain bowls for lunch and the smoothies as go to breakfast sides or snack options. They are delicious and having a full stock of healthy choices makes life easier.
  • Meal Plan Prep: As a devotee of the Budget Mom, I have been focussed throughout the pandemic on planning our dinners. This has enabled me to both stay within budget and to have food in the house that fits our needs and is ready. This has been a huge help. I often use this meal prep sheet that the Budget Mom shares.

Focus On Goals

“Don’t give up what you want most for what you want now.” Ultimately all of this matters because working moms have goals. As a voice actor, I have spent years building my business. It isn’t about getting through September, it is about making life work so that I reach these goals for myself and for my family. If we can’t see the forest through the trees, we just won’t get where we have worked so hard to go. In the shadow of the passing of the great Ruth Bader Ginsburg, we have a great torch to carry. She did it with such ease, and we must carry on for our children so that we can finish the work she set out to do.

My Breakthrough This Week When Walking my Dog

Some days I wake up with a burst of energy and ready to get to work. Other days I am less energetic, but regardless, the outcome is the same: I do my thang in the booth. I’ll explain. I am pretty regimented when it comes to sticking to my voice over routine, Laura walking her dogsand that routine enables me to balance both my mom tasks and my business tasks in a way that I am comfortable with. Most days follow the same pattern, with slight variation by day of the week. But some days, I am less “into it” than others. I was thinking it through the other morning and I thought this was a matter of inspiration. I was walking my dogs one day this week with my friend Melanie and she was telling me she felt the same way, that feeling when you just can’t get started. Melanie is a successful New York attorney who works extremely long days. While her career path is decidedly different than mine is as a working creative, this got my wheels turning. Both of us are working moms. Both of us work long days every day. And both of us build our household responsibilities into our professional goals. What, then, is the secret sauce? It came to me that while I often think of things only in terms of the presence and lack of inspiration, it is actually the ability to sustain the magic of the intersection of motivation and inspiration that makes success happen.

Common Challenges All Working Moms Face

So, let’s take a step back. It’s not just me as a voice actor who has a business to run that also has to think about how to feed my kids dinner at the end of a long work day. There are common challenges that every single working mom has to face regardless of our chosen profession and these challenges impact our work performance. Sure, these challenges vary depending on the age of our kids and the level of involvement of our life partner if we have one, but for the most part working moms still:

  • feed their families
  • manage household responsibilities including cleaning and home maintenance and repairs
  • have appointments like doctors visits
  • have errands like marketing, grocery shopping, household supplies, etc.
  • need to interact with school teachers

Just to list a few of these, and all of these responsibilities take time, energy, and emotional strength away from our professional responsibility. We can’t split ourselves in half. We have to be present for all of it, and there are only so many hours in the day.

Motivation vs. Inspiration

So, with so much on our plates as working moms, what keeps as working towards our end goals? Let’s consider the definitions of motivation and inspiration:

Definition of inspiration

 

Definition of motivationFor me, I could blog endlessly about my VO goals. I try to break them down and focus on immediate, short term, 6 month, 12 month, and long term goals. That is how I start to frame out the motivation. The inspiration has always been clear: it starts and ends with my children. They are my why. I was inspired to start my business for them. Everything I do is for them. Thinking of them and wanting them to be able to study abroad or open up their business helps me define solid financial goals that I am very motivated to reach. On a daily basis, I hold myself accountable with a google spreadsheet. On a weekly basis, I am accountable to my amazing VO Powerhouse Accountability Group. All of this is essential to spending time at this junction of motivation and inspiration and not floundering in between the two.

My Working Mom Interviews

A few years ago I also started doing a series of “Got Your Back” working mom interviews on YouTube. It occurred to me that I was just one of many and that maybe a lot of women had figured out this work life balance better than I had. I wanted to know what they struggled with and how they addressed those struggles to get it all done. These women were both inside the voiceover industry and beyond. One of them, Rebecca Gelman, has since evolved beyond her architecture business and now also owns an outdoor gear shop that boasts the largest collection of black bear collectables in our area which you can find at https://bigbeargearnj.com/. Talk about a gal who doesn’t waste a moment and somehow gets it all done, she is extremely motivated and Rebecca inspires me daily. All of the videos do! But if you are like me, you look to your tribe on those days when you are lacking, and, well, my tribe rocks.

 

What Needs to Line Up for me to Meet me Goals

Life as a full time voice actor is not as simple as being found and just sent bookings. Yes, it’s great when a repeat client does that, but if I were to sit back and rely on that every day my business would cease to exist. I recall hearing Dave Fennoy speak in 2016, and he talked about a time when he was so successful he stopped working to grow his business. Do you know what happened? He lost his business. He lost everything and Dave Fennoy, one of the biggest names in voice over, had to rebuild from the beginning. He told us at this conference that we needed to work every single day as if it were our first day. That is what I try to remember. I never sit back and count on the work pouring in. Every day matters and I will continue to work my hardest.

I will still also take care of myself too. I want to teach my children that is well. I will blow out my hair, put on some make up, do my nails, and do pilates. If I fall apart, how can I take care of the needs of so many others? Worse, what kind of example am I setting as a mother. So here I am, hanging out at this intersection I realized I love being at but only just named. And now that I’ve found it, I’m not going anywhere!!

To There are Ups and Downs

As in all fields, in voice over there are good days  and bad ones. A common expression professional voice over actors use is that “it is feast or famine.” I have experienced this myself. Sometimes I am so busy I do not know how I will stop for a bathroom break or to feed my family. Other weeks I wonder if all my clients are on vacation at the same time. In good times it is great to have friends to celebrate your successes. In challenging times, you need people you can really trust to talk through your thoughts. So, how do you go about surrounding yourself with trusted people?

When you surround yourself with the right industry friends, you can share this journey with them!

Tips for Finding People

  • Coaches. Coaches are likely the first people you will meet. They have seen so much and are seasoned. They are looking to meet people to so this is a great start.
  • Conferences. Specifically voiceover conferences.  I have blogged about conferences before, and VO North and Vocation are coming up, but other voice over talents are looking to connect at these conferences. You can make lifelong friends there.
  • Facebook groups. You really can bond and get to know people, even online. You have to be a little more careful when you are not meeting someone face to face, but if you have mutual friends this should help sort out who is a good connection for your intimate network.
  • Acting Workshops. I actually go to acting technique programs at local theaters. When others are working on there craft too, they are likely to have similar goals, and are good for you to connect with.

Topics to Discuss with Your People

  • Actual accountability. You need folks that you can be frank with and in return they are candid with you.
  • Ideally you will have friends as accomplished and more accomplished as you are.
  • Goals. You can discuss how you are actively pursuing your goals. What’s working? What’s holding you back?
  • Feedback. Have you gotten a great review? Have you gotten feedback that you did not expect? It is important to be able to

    These are my people, well, some of them, and they make every single day better!

    bounce this off of your people.

  • Finances. Are you building a sustainable business? When trying to reach consistent financial benchmarks each week or each month, it is really important to report to or have others that you can discuss this with, both in vague and specific terms. From marketing to accounting, a lot of responsibility falls to a solopreneur, and we can learn me from each other than if we function in an isolated bubble.
  • Ways to support each other. I am in an accountability group that talks very regularly daily. I know groups that share assistants. I know groups that market themselves as a whole. There are lots of ways you can go, but first you need to start by finding your people.

What the Universe Sends You

Just as the voice over industry has no geographic boundaries, your peer group is the same! The woman I am closest with that support me daily are scattered about the continent. I feel very strongly that everything happens for a reason, as these women inspire me, pick me up, and are there. I hope that I do the same for them. As I right this, I have the Barbra Streisand song in my head “People,People who need people, are the luckiest people in the world.”