focus

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!!

It’s a Conundrum

I have so many good days, when I am super productive, I have tons of energy, and I get more accomplished than I had ever thought possible. On such days, sometimes a crazy thought creeps through my head: what if they’re gone? What if just as suddenly as they came, I will never get a migraine again? Then, like a load of bricks dropped on my head, I wake from my sleep with the throbbing pain behind my right eye and I hope that I get the medication in me in time so that I can take the lowest dosage possible. So, how can the good days seem so immeasurably good and then the bad days I am just so thankful for each task that is completed. When making toast seems like climbing Mount Everest, the vast contrast between the good days and the bad days of this working mom is mind blowing. But here’s the real kicker: I speak for a living. As a migraine sufferer, on bad days, I don’t want to talk. At all. The sound of my voice seems to echo against the inside of my head and is excruciating. How frustrating that all of the things I am passionate about, including voice over, are not easy on migraine days.

Making it Work

As a working mom I try hard to exhibit good coping for my twins Emma and Jack, so laying curled up in a ball on the sofa all day is not a good longterm strategy for a chronic problem. When I’m “lucky,” and believe me I am using that word loosely, my migraines will come on a weekend and I can sleep them off. Often they come as they like as they are triggered by all sorts of things: stress, lack of sleep, my cycle, the weather, so in short- life triggers them. When they come on a week day I try to take the medicine as early as I can. I tend to be a heavy sleeper and wake up confused, but if I can actually get the medication in me early, that helps. I try to always have both coffee and ginger ale in the house as they help. My strategy then changes. Daily routines will be completed, but anything extra gets pushed to another day. Nothing fun will happen on a migraine day. I try to give myself a break and only do what is essential. Booked work will be recorded. Auditions will likely be skipped. All emails will be replied to. I will likely defer any direct marketing. In terms of mom tasks, if I can ask Harlan to help with anything, I do!

Planning Ahead

My migraines started when I had my twins, almost 17 years ago. It is safe to assume I will have them until the kids go to college, so now, like with everything else, I plan ahead. Here are some tricks that help me a lot, just in case a whopper of a head ache should descend:

              • Pack school lunches the night before. I actually make sandwiches or entrees for a few days at a time so that I just have to grab the sides each night. It really speeds things up!
              • Have set laundry days.
              • Order groceries weekly so your house is always stocked with the basics at minimum.
              • Plan your food for the week. I have a weekly print out so if I am down for the count someone can figure out the food.
              • Make sure to refill the migraine medication regularly. It is terrible to realize that you have run out at 3 am when you really need it. Keep a stock of it on hand.
              • If you cannot drive on your medication, as I often cannot, make sure you have carpool arrangements that are flexible for your kids.

Voice Over Specific Issues and Migraine

There are work related tasks that I will and won’t do on migraine days. I will happily do any self-directed sessions at my leisure. I will happily record short and normal length scripts. A migraine day is not the day to have an ISDN session with new clients and multiple people giving directions. My brain just can’t process the input and it is not a smart, career promoting move. I also wouldn’t promise to deliver 10,000 words of eLearning with a migraine. It doesn’t mean I couldn’t record a few modules, but I pride myself on being a meticulous editor, and nothing is meticulous when you are on such strong headache medicine. The other task I would avoid on migraine days is voice matching. I have a knack for being able to match others’ voices and my own past jobs. But, on a headache day, that is just too tricky and I would wait.

Pros of Working with a Migraine Sufferer

Yes, I wish my migraines would stop and never come back. But, I do think they have changed me. I have so much more understanding of what people with much more serious chronic illnesses go through. I am much more patient. I am genuinely thankful for every non-migraine day. I am very sympathetic when others have to reschedule and are under the weather.