Our motivations tend to change as we move through life. As a teenager, I was typically full of ideologies, ambitions and plans both for myself and the world around me. I harangued anyone who would listen about various social and political injustices. I fully indulged in those traditionally rebel years. I messed around, failed to get myself a decent education or launch into any career.
Underneath all that angst, was a mother in wolf’s clothing. I passionately wanted children. I wanted to do the whole stay at home Mum bit, with beautifully turned out, happy children eating wholesome food, much of which I had grown myself. The reality of that one didn’t take long to set in, with the sleepless nights, the barely heated baked beans on toast both on plate and down fronts of aforesaid children, the garden neglected. The actuality of life as a Mum is a wake-up call for most of us.
Even so, those of us who become parents, tend to spend the next couple of decades focussing every scrap of energy into our children’s needs. For me, initially, the challenges were simply day to day. I had been able to drift into marriage and motherhood cocooned in the security of a partner and a trust fund. But life has a habit of sending us wake up calls and when the trust fund I had went bust overnight and my marriage broke up shortly afterwards, I was left absolutely penniless, totally alone with two small children to support. I was not the first woman that has happened to nor will I be the last.
I was soon living on government support but failing to make ends meet. So with very limited skills, I set up an “office” under the stairs at home where I could watch the children play at the same time and started selling goods from a variety of local manufacturers to interior designers.
It was really hard; hard being broke; hard working with two small children around. But I managed over the next few years to build a small business which enabled life to become near to the perfect vision I had of motherhood. It was a happy, innocent time in many ways.
By the time the children were in their teens, I was buying the furniture I was selling from one other small company. One Friday, the man who owned it rang my doorbell and announced he was shutting up shop that weekend. Panicking, I asked him in, agreed a deal I could pay him when I could, and by Monday had two small businesses. I amalgamated the two. There were a lot of touch and go moments, but eventually it became successful. With a lot of hard work, I built it up to the size where we were selling my own furniture designs worldwide. Over a hectic few years, I had become something I didn’t set out to be – an entrepreneur and businesswoman.
It was great in some ways, especially initially. But as success came, so I became very depressed. There were expectations on me to become a person I had not set out to be. It took me very far from my original values and authenticity. When we allow the noise, the sheer hectic pace of the lives we lead to drown out our values or to lead us into living lives that do not fit with them, we have a recipe for great unhappiness and dis-ease. And sure enough, that is what happened. Increasingly, I became physically ill and more and more depressed as well, yet there was never any time to deal with either issue. I tried hard to make it work, but we all need a reason to get up in the morning that goes a lot deeper than you “ought” or “should”. Breaking point came finally, one illness too many, and the business and I parted company.
I am far from alone in the millions who put aside their dreams to have children and do so happily and willingly. But from 50, our priorities change again. While some might have their lives revolving around grandchildren, many more revert to questioning life, trying to find a purpose and a recipe for happiness while there is still time, or simply focussing on a much more health conscious existence in order to stave off the inevitable deteriorations as we get older.
Now re-invented as me, I feel more successful now, doing a mix of coaching, writing and speaking, than I ever did running an international business. Following your authentic self, whatever that is, at whatever stage of life you are at, is the deep down essential rule to follow.
About the Author
Jan Cavelle is a successful Entrepreneur, Writer and a sales and Business Coach for Women based in the UK. Jan has nearly 40 years’ experience in sole trading and small businesses. This experience ranges from such diverse areas as music management, catering, freelance sales, furniture design and manufacture. You can contact Jan by email on firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her website – http://jancavelle.co.uk/