or, understanding what you get with a paid subscription ☕️💪
This week I wanted to do something a little different. As I’ve mentioned, I’m currently running a subscriber sale. Through Saturday, December 10, I’m offering 30% off paid subscriptions!
To recap, paid subscribers receive:
Monthly ask-me-anything newsletters, called Spill the Tea. Subscribers have access to a google form where they can submit anonymous questions for me to answer.
Weekly Subscriber Sips. These are mini-newsletters that are sent out every Monday—meant to give you a little “sip” of ambition—sometimes it’s an interesting article, other times it’s a fun activity to do with your kids, sometimes it’s a discussion thread (I’ve gotten some fantastic book recommendations from our conversations), and sometimes it’s just something fun.
ACOA swag. Annual subscribers get A Cup of Ambition sticker and founding members get a mug—a literal cup of ambition!
A few people have asked for more information on what is included in a paid subscription, so I thought I’d give you a little sampling of some of the past issues. Read, enjoy, and upgrade your subscription while it’s on sale! 😉
I'm so grateful for the time and care you took in replying to my question in your Ask-me-anything column. Your note helped me to zoom in on what matters *to me, now*, rather than flip-flopping between different versions of what I thought I *should* want. I moved from asking: "How could I bend my life to fit this job description?" to thinking in practical terms: "This is how they could change the role to work for me." And I feel at peace with my decision!
Spill the Tea: November 4
Q: I'm a contractor and have been working for a prestigious international client for a decade, with a few different managers. My last manager's job is now up for grabs -- this is extremely rare, as the company usually fills positions internally from HQ on another continent. I meet about 85% of the job description but miss crucial management experience and know it would be a big stretch. The money is good/great, and we need it, but the location goes (far) against the goals we'd set to move closer to my family.
My inner voices say:
Applying comes from a sense of "I should aim higher" but sets me up for inadequacy and stress (I don't really want this job! I wouldn't be good or happy doing it!)
Not applying means I'm a wuss and lack ambition (Those job opps almost never appear! I don't have much to lose!)
Whether I apply or not, I could be resentful or frustrated working with them in the future. What questions could I ask them internally to figure if it's worth applying? What questions could I ask myself to decide where to focus my energy?
A: Alright, let’s break this big decision into some smaller pieces to try to make it more manageable.
Get clear on your values
I know I may sound like a broken record, but I really believe that you should always (always!) start with your values. We feel unhappy and burnt out when we make decisions that don’t align with our values. If you haven’t done my values exercise (described here), I encourage you take some time to reflect and write down 5-7 core values.
Based off what you’ve shared, I’m sensing that you’re feeling a disconnect between this opportunity and one or more of your values. Try to identify where that is. It might also be the case that there’s an apparent tension between two or more of your values (for example, family involvement and career ambition). If that’s the case, I would encourage you to dig a bit deeper there:
Are the two values really in opposition?
Are there ways that they can exist?
If they are unreconcilable, do you have a gut feeling about which one is more important to you at this stage of your life?
Interrogate your gut response
I want to reflect something back to you: You stated “I don’t really want this job!” That’s a pretty powerful statement. And it very well might be your answer. It sounds like you’re still equivocating though, so here are some questions you may want to reflect on:
What does success look like for you? What does it feel like?
When you think about this job opportunity, what emotions are triggered for you? Do you feel those emotions somewhere in your body?
For every “yes” we give, we are—either explicitly or implicitly—saying “no” to something else. Is this a trade-off you can live with?
Is there more information you need to feel confident in your decision-making on this issue?
If you decide that you DON’T want to pursue this opportunity
I would encourage you to reframe your narrative. I already hear you falling into drawing some negative assumptions about yourself (“I’m a wuss and [I] lack ambition.”) I would argue that, on the contrary, you are making a thoughtful, informed, and empowered decision based on the complexity of your current life circumstances. Timing is crucially important, and you likely have really solid reasons for not wanting this opportunity. When your personal or professional circumstances change, you may make a different decision. You are not making a forever decision, you are doing what is best for you right now.
If you decide you DO want to pursue this opportunity
You said that you met 85% of the qualifications listed on the job description. Would it surprise you to know that men typically apply for jobs when they meet 60% of the qualifications, while many women don’t apply unless they meet 100% of the qualifications? Given this, you are likely more qualified than many of the people you would be up against.
Instead of ruminating on the experiences you lack, focus on the unique skills that you bring. Based on your question, I’m sensing that you are self-aware, ask informed questions, and engage in thoughtful decision making—these are all characteristics that would make you a strong manager. Also, think about the leadership lessons you’ve learned in your time as a parent. You may not have supervised people in a formal way, but I’d guess you have experience in motivating others, setting boundaries, and managing conflict.
Finally, if you end up getting the job, don’t underestimate your power to negotiate! I hear you expressing concerns about location, is there any room for flexibility with this? It sounds like you also have concerns about lack of management experience, can they pay for a coach or other relevant professional development opportunities? Get clear on your top priorities and ask for them!
Spill the Tea: December 6
Q: I’m feeling really overwhelmed with all of the work and family expectations of the holidays. Any suggestions to help me stay sane?
You are certainly not alone in your feelings of being overloaded. Yes, the holidays can be magical and wonderful—and they can also be stressful and unrelenting. Here are a few strategies that I’ve found helpful…
Do something at the beginning of each day that helps you feel centered, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Go for a run, read a novel, journal, meditate, etc. Do not scroll your social media feeds!
Say “no” to things that deplete you. I recognize that this may not be completely possible during the holiday season with family and parenting responsibilities, but I encourage you to take an honest inventory and decline what you can. I am not a natural chef and baking Christmas cookies from scratch with little kids stresses me out. This year, I’m buying gingerbread man decorating kits and calling it a day. 👍
If you have young kids, remember that although the holidays are exciting and fun, they are also overstimulating and exhausting. Prepare your kids as much as possible for the days ahead and cut them (and yourself) some slack. If you have a kid who is highly sensitive of easily overwhelmed, read here for some strategies you can use.
If you are taking time off (which you should): Un-synch your work email from your phone. It’s not enough just to put on an “out of office” or turn off notifications—un-synch completely otherwise you’ll be tempted to check in out of habit. Tell people that if they need you urgently, they can call you.
Engage in self-reflection. The start of the new year usually signals a fresh start. I urge you to go a step further and take an inventory of what you need to be prepared as you begin the new year. Who can you enlist in helping you achieve these needs? How will you continue to check in with yourself to ensure you’re addressing new needs that arise?
Subscriber Sip: November 14
Today I want to talk about best practices for how companies can support working parents. Since the pandemic, there has been an increase in organizations recognizing “caregivers” as the newest workplace identity group. Some companies are responding by creating Employee Resource Groups (I’ve actually had a few reach out to me for speaking engagements. If you’re interested, let’s chat!)
Beyond the creation of ERGs, here’s a list of other best practices for supporting working parent employees (care of CharterWorks):
Rethinking when meetings take place. Early morning and after 5pm are notoriously terrible times for parents.
Providing back-up childcare or reduced-cost childcare as part of their benefits package. Assist with eldercare, in addition to long-term planning and legal services.
Offering family-planning policies, like fertility, egg-freezing, and adoption benefits.
Offering postpartum benefits such as milk storage, shipping, and access to on-demand paraprofessionals like doulas and lactation consultants.
During leave, offering stipends for food delivery, coverage for lactation consultants, and even reimbursement for Snoo rentals (that’s a robotic bassinet, for the uninitiated).
For the return to work, offering coaching, ramp-up schedules, and mental healthcare programs to help make the transition easier. (woohoo! 🎉)
Weaving support of caregivers into management training, framing it as a key part of diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.
Is there anything your organization is offering that isn’t covered here? What would be your ideal forms of support?