The hallmark of the Cruiser path is their decision to downshift for a period of time while committing to not leaving the paid workforce completely. Interestingly, for a number of the women I interviewed, that downshift didn’t happen until later, as their children entered their teen years.
Take Debbie Lovich. She worked hard for the first twenty years of her career and became one of the fastest people to make partner at the Boston Consulting Group. As a partner, she traveled extensively and was often out of the house before her four children awoke and home well after they were in bed. Unlike many highly successful women, she didn’t have a spouse who could serve as lead parent. Her husband, Mark, was equally committed to his career as a physician/scientist. Tough as it was, the two of them made it work. That is, until their daughters hit middle school. Then it became clear to Debbie she needed to be more available to her children.
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“I realized I couldn’t outsource the support my girls needed during those challenging middle school years, so I downshifted my career by taking an administrative role at the firm,” Debbie told me. “I was able to be in at nine o’clock and leave by five o’clock. I was always home for dinner and never worked on weekends. It was the perfect solution for me and my family.”
Now that her daughters are older, Debbie has reengaged and is back working as a partner at BCG. “I never fully left the workforce, but stepping off track as I did felt like a huge pause in my career. It was a tough decision, but I had achieved everything I needed professionally. I realized though there was more I needed to do with my kids and my community. Now I am back on track and am excited about what is ahead. That said, I have no doubt pausing was the right choice for me,” she said.
Temporarily pulling back on one’s career (rather than quitting completely) may be the right solution for some, but it should be noted a number of the respondents to the Women on the Rise survey who had taken “the scenic route” said the cruising model wasn’t perfect either.
A woman I interviewed who had negotiated a reduced workweek said, “I had a great situation. In fact, the dream schedule for most moms in the workplace. But when I pulled my foot off the pedal of my career, it took a lot of effort to not be jealous of my friends as they passed me by. I had to remind
myself that what I was doing was as important. In the end, I missed being in the thick of it and that inspired me to reengage full-time.”
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