Caroline Flanagan – My Story
At an early age I found myself with a choice to make. Either I could settle for the cards life had dealt me, focusing on all the circumstances that were beyond my control that made it so hard, and believing those who told me I wouldn’t succeed. Or I could focus on what I could control: my attitude, goals, decisions, determination, hard work and those few people who believed in me. I made it my rule that I would only focus on the latter. And it was a choice that has brought me riches – of the fulfilling work and wonderful home-life kind – beyond my wildest dreams.
Having kids was the only time in my life I broke this rule. Instead of preparing myself for what I knew would be a challenge, I went into working parenthood just hoping it would all work itself out.
I was an international finance lawyer working at one of the world’s biggest international law firms where the culture was competitive, high pressured and unforgiving. I knew that balancing kids and family in this sort of environment was going to be an enormous challenge and I worried about how I was going to make it work with my career.
It’s not that I didn’t try. I looked around for help about how to make it work and for advice on whether there was anything I could do before kids came along, that would make the journey easier. But there was no help out there. Nothing that spoke to me as a career woman and a want-to-be parent. The career advice was all too focused on getting up the career ladder to the exclusion of everything else, and the pregnancy/baby stuff was all too… well too pregnancy/baby, and I just wasn’t ready to fully immerse myself in that stuff.
I remember thinking: if only there was somewhere – a website, a community, a place to go – where I could safely connect with others in a similar position and learn how to prepare for the challenges that came with the territory of being a working parent; where I could be honest about wanting it all and, instead of being told I couldn’t have it, be given tips and advice from those who’d been there and were making it work.
No such place existed. So I went into being a working parent with no planning or preparation at all:
- I didn’t have the chat with my partner about who would do what and how it would work.
- I didn’t invest time in building a strong network inside and outside of my firm
- I didn’t perfect the skill of balancing my work and personal life…
So many things I could have done, which would have made it easier when the time came.
I made these mistakes. You don’t have to.
I founded Babyproof Your Life to give other career women the support and advice I never had. My mission is to create a global community of ambitious women who aren’t afraid to say they want it all and want to learn how they can make it work.