Let me ask you a serious question: What do you want? When you think about your life, are you living the life you want to live or the life you have to live? There is a difference. The life you want to live may still hold some of the dreams of who you really want to be – who you'd be if you weren't afraid. The writer, the teacher, the activist, the lawyer, the entrepreneur, etc. The life you want usually holds more creativity, depth, and meaning and you can envision being fulfilled by it. The life you want to live, as the magazine articles love to put it, includes your "purpose" – your "reason you jump out of bed in the morning" – the "thing you'd do for free," etc etc etc.
The life you have to live is likely the one that (barely) pays your bills and leaves you mentally, emotionally, and physically depleted. It may involve people that you don't even like or want to be around, but it's the job that pays the bills, right? It keeps food in your stomach and a roof over your head. Your body is taken care of, but in all likelihood, your soul is starving. And when your soul is weary, your body will follow. Suddenly, the dream or resolution you were excited about – you'll put it off until tomorrow. You'll do it one day. Or you'll talk yourself out of your dream altogether.
Today, I am here to tell you to not talk yourself out of that dream. If another life is what you want, it is not going to magically fly to you. You're going to have to put in the work. It will take time that you may not think you have, but it will be worth the effort. Here are some lessons I'm learning by moving from ambitious to audacious in the new year:
Don’t be Afraid to Put Yourself Out There
It's a big world out here but you would be surprised how many people are waiting to hear your voice and need to see and experience your skills in action. Freelancing puts you in the driver's seat and you get to dictate where your career goes from there – a side hustle in progress. No idea is too big and no start is too small. It may start as doing things for friends and family, coworkers, or fellow students. Word of mouth tends to be a good networking tool.
It’s OK to Think Big, but Start Small
There are plenty of freelancing sites that promise to have gigs in your chosen field and for some people that works, which is great. But I found more success in doing my own research. I happened to already love xoNecole, but seeing that they had an open invitation to submit pieces was an opportunity I needed to take. I also submitted to another online journal called Thought Catalog and the Manifest-Station (the latter through a site called Submittable, which has many sites looking for freelancers of all walks of life). Thankfully, the editors liked my work enough (and still do) to publish my work, which not only builds my portfolio, but also have confidence in my writing to keep going, and has made me think about publishing a book this year as well as start a podcast. Starting is the first step, no matter where you are. I lucked out and have found really good opportunities thus far (thank you so much xoNecole!) and if I can do it, you can too.
Embrace the Hustle and it will Embrace You Back
While we would love making money doing what we love full-time, that isn't always the case and we know the bills won't be patient while we find our way. So you may have to build your dream alongside a full-time gig that may not be as fulfilling. For me, that's working in corporate America full-time, which is physically, emotionally, and mentally draining at times. But I am trying to shift my focus in 2019 to not only being thankful for having a job right now, but also looking at it as funding my dream. As long as I can pay my bills and feed my children, then I can take the time to build the life I WANT to live and sustain our lifestyle. It is not easy by any means, but that is okay. It's called a hustle for a reason.
Which leads to my next point…
You Have to Make Time
We all have tight schedules. I myself work a full-time job with a minimum one hour commute one way, I have an older child in volleyball with two two-hour practices per week, and a one-hour game on Saturdays. During the week, I barely have time to blink. But a friend of mine recently had me complete an exercise – she had me fully write out my schedule, hour by hour, during the week and weekend, to see where my time gaps are. In starting it, I was sure I wouldn't have any time to spare; however, as it turns out, I had more time than I expected. Not much but enough that I can get some things done. So, I've started making the time in my schedule and putting the time on my calendar so that I can make time to do what I love and still make time for my other obligations. I'm not perfect, and this is still a work in progress. But my goals are important enough for me to make the time to reach them.
Move from Ambitious to Audacious
This is my mantra for 2019 – feel free to borrow. Let me be the big sister for a second – your dreams are not going to make themselves. You can want to do things, but wanting alone isn't enough. You have to get up and make it happen. You have to be willing to lean into your own life and put in the work necessary to be successful in your goals. You have to invest in you. That is going to take audacity – getting up and making, as Cardi B says, those money moves. You must be bold enough and believe in yourself enough to put your gifts and talents out there. Someone is looking for you, but they'll never find you unless you make yourself visible.
Nothing worth having comes easy, but believe me when I tell you, once you get started, you won't want to stop. There's nothing like realizing that you can build the life you want if you're just willing to put in the work needed to do it.
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is a mother, writer, yogi, Scorpio and has good hair but is NOT Becky by any means. By day, she pushes paper, but by night, she unleashes her superpower: using her words.
Chief Mom Officer: 23 Quotes From Working Moms Finding Their Balance
The truth is, Black moms create magic every single day. Whether we're juggling motherhood with a busy 9-5, a thriving business, or staying at home to run a household, no day is short of amazing when you're managing life as a mommy. This Mother's Day, xoNecole is giving flowers to CMOs (Chief Mom Officers) in business who exemplify the strength it takes to balance work with motherhood.
We've commissioned these ladies, who are pillars in their respective industries, for tidbits of advice to get you through the best and worst days of mothering. Here, they share their "secret sauce" and advice for other moms trying to find their rhythm.
Emmelie De La Cruz, Chief Strategist at One Day CMO
"My mom friends and I all laugh and agree: Motherhood is the ghettoest thing you will ever do. It's beautiful and hard all at the same time, but one day you will wake up and feel like 'I got this' and you will get the hang of it. After 4 months, I finally felt like I found my footing to keep my kid and myself alive, but it took vulnerability to take off the cape and be honest about the areas that I didn't have it all together. The healing (physically and emotionally) truly does happen in community - whatever and whoever that looks like for you."
Alizè V. Garcia, Director Of Social & Community Impact at Nike
"I would tell a new mom or a prospective mother that they must give themselves grace, understand and remember there is no right way to do this thing and have fun! When I had my daughter three and a half years ago, I was petrified! I truly had no clue about what to do and how I was going to do it. But with time, my confidence grew and I realized quickly that I have all the tools I need to be the mother I want to be."
Nikki Osei-Barrett, Publicist + Co-Founder of The Momference
"There's no balance. I'm dropping sh*t everywhere! However, my secret sauce is pursuing interests and hobbies outside of what's required of me and finding time to workout. Stronger body equals = stronger mind."
Lauren Grove, Chief Experience Architect, The Grant Access, LLC
"I try to give myself grace. That’s my mantra for this phase of motherhood…grace. I won’t be able to get everything done. To have a spotless house. To not lose my cool after an exhausting day. Those things can’t happen all of the time. But I can take a deep breath and know tomorrow is another day and my blessings are more plentiful than my pitfalls."
Rachel Nicks, Founder & CEO of Birth Queen
"You have the answers within you. Don’t compare yourself to others. Curate your life to work for you. Ask for help."
Tanisha Colon-Bibb, Founder + CEO Rebelle Agency + Rebelle Management
"I know love doesn't pay bills but when I am overwhelmed with work or client demands I take a moment to play with my baby and be reminded of the love, energy, science, and Godliness that went into his birth. I am brightened by his smile and laugh. I remember I am someone's parent and not just a work horse. That at the end of the day everything will work out for the good of my sanity and the love within my life."
Christina Brown, Founder of LoveBrownSugar & BabyBrownSugar
"Learning your rhythm as a mom takes time and can be uncomfortable when you’re in a season of overwhelm. Constantly check in with yourself and assess what’s working and what’s not. Get the help you need without feeling guilty or ashamed of needing it."
Mecca Tartt, Executive Director of Startup Runway Foundation
"I want to be the best for myself, my husband, children and company. However, the reality is you can have it all but not at the same time. My secret sauce is outsourcing and realizing that it’s okay to have help in order for me to perform at the highest level."
Jen Hayes Lee, Head Of Marketing at The Bump (The Knot Worldwide)
"My secret sauce is being direct and honest with everyone around me about what I need to be successful in all of my various "jobs". Setting boundaries is one thing, but if you're the only one who knows they exist, your partners at home and on the job can't help you maintain them. I also talk to my kids like adults and let them know why mommy needs to go to this conference or get this massage...they need to build an appreciation for my needs too!"
Whitney Gayle-Benta, Chief Music Officer JKBX
"What helps me push through each day is the motivation to continue by thinking about my son. All my efforts, though exhausting, are to create a wonderful life for him."
Ezinne Okoro, Global Chief Inclusion, Equity, & Diversity Officer at Wunderman Thompson,
"The advice I received that I’ll pass on is, you will continue to figure it out and find your rhythm as your child grows into new stages. Trust your nurturing intuition, parent on your terms, and listen to your child."
Jovian Zayne, CEO of The OnPurpose Movement
"I live by the personal mantra: 'You can’t be your best self by yourself.' My life feels more balanced when I offer the help I can give and ask for the help I need. This might mean outsourcing housecleaning for my home, or hiring additional project management support for my business."
Simona Noce Wright, Co-Founder of District Motherhued and The Momference
"Each season of motherhood (depending on age, grade, workload) requires a different rhythm. With that said, be open to learning, to change, and understand that what worked for one season may not work the other...and that's okay."
Janaye Ingram, Director of Community Partner Programs and Engagement at Airbnb
"My daughter's smile and sweet spirit help me to feel gratitude when I'm overwhelmed. I want her to see a woman who doesn't quit when things get hard."
Codie Elaine Oliver, CEO & Founder of Black Love
"I try to listen to my body and simply take a break. With 3 kids and a business with 10+ team members, I often feel overwhelmed. I remind myself that I deserve grace for everything I'm juggling, I take a walk or have a snack or even head home to see my kids, and then I get back to whatever I need to get done."
Jewel Burks Solomon, Managing Partner at Collab Capital
"Get comfortable with the word ‘no’. Be very clear about your non-negotiables and communicate them to those around you."
Bridget Bogee, Marketing Lead At Meta
"Ask for help and always prioritize making time for you."
Julee Wilson, Executive Director at BeautyUnited and Beauty Editor-at-Large at Cosmopolitan
"Understand you can’t do it alone — and that’s ok. Relinquish the need to control everything. Create a village and lean on them."
Salwa Benyaich, Director Of Pricing and Planning at Premion
"Most days I really try to shut my computer off by 6 pm; there are always exceptions of course when it comes to big deals or larger projects but having this as a baseline allows me to be much more present with my kids. I love the fact that I can either help with homework or be the designated driver to at least one afterschool activity. Work can be draining but there is nothing more emotionally draining than when you feel as though you are missing out on moments with your kids."
Brooke Ellis, Head of Global Marketing & Product Launches at Amazon Music
My calendar, prayer, pilates class at Forma, a good playlist, and oatmilk lattes all help get me through any day.
Courtney Beauzile, Global Director of Client and Business Development at Shearman & Sterling
My husband is a partner who steps in when I just can’t. My mom and my MIL come through whenever and however I need. My kids have many uncles and aunts and they will lend an ear, go over homework, teach life lessons, be a presence or a prayer warrior depending on the day.
Robin Snipes, Chief of Staff at Meta
"Enjoy the time you have to yourself because once kids come those times will be few and far between."
Monique Bivens, CEO & Founder at Brazilian Babes LLC.
"For new moms, it is very important that you get back into a habit or routine of something you use to do before you were pregnant. Consider the actives and things that give you the most joy and make the time to do them."
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Tracee Ellis Ross On Why She Declined The Idea Of Someone Else Running Her Hair Company
Actress and entrepreneur Tracee Ellis Ross recently revealed the driving force behind her desire to become the owner of her haircare brand, Pattern.
According to its site, Pattern is a haircare company that provides a wide range of products, from shampoos, conditioners, oils, creams, and many more to individuals with curls, coils, and tight hair textures. Although Pattern would launch in 2019, the idea for the company first came to Ross a decade before --in 2008, when her hit show Girlfriends wrapped-- following a brief encounter at a beauty supply store and many wanting to recreate her past looks.
At the time, those individuals couldn't achieve the exact results because limited natural hair products were offered to the public. That instance became a pivotal moment in the star's life because she spent eleven years experimenting with professionals to create products that best suit those within the natural hair community.
In a May conference with Fortune's MPW Next Gen, Ross opened up about the struggles she faced early on as an entrepreneur trying to get Pattern off the ground and why she declined the offer to have the company be run by someone else.
Tracee On Past Struggles And Why She Chose To Run Her Company
During the discussion, the 50-year-old revealed that she is Pattern's "majority owner" because the company's overall mission to cater to those in the natural hair community was built from her "experiential knowledge."
"I'm a majority owner of my company. [Other celebrities with brands] aren't the founders of the company. Often, they join a company that exists," she said. "The mission [at Pattern] is born out of my experience. It's born out of my own experiential knowledge."
Further in the interview, Ross would add that she avoided partnering with an expert for Pattern because she felt she had gained enough knowledge experimenting with products in her bathroom.
"I didn't want to partner with an expert or a 'professional' because I felt—like so many—I had become my own best expert in my bathroom because the beauty industry was not catering to us," she stated.
Despite refusing to have a partner within her company, Ross found creative ways to build it. It includes paying a chemist with her own money to bring her visions of various products to life, and sending those samples to retail stores, ultimately leading to partnerships.
The final piece that helped Ross during her journey was receiving advice from business partners on ways to improve the brand, one of which came from Ulta Beauty CEO and Footlocker CEO Mary Dillon.
The black-ish star claimed that Dillon helped her realize how she could use her celebrity status and journey to promote Pattern, which she did. Because of that, Patten has now become a favorable haircare brand among many.
Tracee On How She Plans To Use Her Company To Create Opportunities For Others
Toward the end of the discussion, Ross disclosed how she plans to use the power of being Pattern's CEO to help others.
The High Note star explained that being an owner of a company has given her access to be around other CEOs interested in what appears to be becoming more profitable, and with that, she wants to expand that access to other people.
"I know that I have access to sit at a table with a CEO in a way that perhaps another founder doesn't. And when I do that, I make sure that those conversations are not only centered around Pattern," she said. "They're centered around creating and expanding the access for all of us."
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