One of my favorite pieces of advice from Lean In’s Sheryl Sandberg is to not make your career plans based around a family that you don’t even have yet. This means not passing up opportunities or progress in exchange for flexible work hours when you aren’t in a situation that requires such a lifestyle. Women, in particular, often do so.
I did. Well… almost. Last year, I was in my first year of graduate school, and I was also seven months pregnant. While working toward a master’s degree in sport psychology, a rad professor of mine opened an opportunity for some observation hours. It was my chance to observe sport psychology in action.
My initial reaction was, “there’s no way.” My baby was due in less than 10 weeks and I could hardly keep my head above water as a full-time student with a full-time job. There was no way I would be able to squeeze in those hours. I just didn’t have time.
Then, it hit me. I was making plans for a lifestyle I didn’t have yet. Sure, a big change was mere weeks around the corner, but it wasn’t here yet. Why would I pass up such a great opportunity?
So, I jumped on board with the observation hours and have learned so much. In fact, it has probably changed the trajectory of my career into a profession I wasn’t anticipating before. For that, I am grateful.
Now I have an adorable baby boy. After six months of motherhood and attempting to balance this bouncing bundle of awesomeness with finishing school and preparing for a new career, I’m glad I took advantage of the opportunities afforded me before he came around. As it turns out, you never know what new things will arise in your life or how your family will be able accommodate for them. Priorities change all the time, out of both preference and necessity.
Don’t sell yourself short because you’re making assumptions about the future. Get in there. The world is waiting for you.