Work PAUSE Thrive is what I wish I had when I was embarking on my journey as a woman, a professional, and a mother. It is not a panacea but rather an alternative view for how to manage the challenges we face as mothers (and fathers) in a culture that doesn’t value that which is most important to us: our families.
The book is divided into three sections. Part I provides readers with insight into what some women have done to create, as one Women on the Rise survey respondent wrote, “lives well lived rather than lived in lives.” It tells the hidden stories of successful women who disrupted the traditional paradigm of being all-in, all-of-the-time, by creating non-linear careers that enabled them to achieve their professional and personal goals. It reveals the three paths of career innovation that allowed them to pull back for a period of time to put their family first and then empowered them to recommit to their professional goals. These trailblazers are models that prove pausing does not have to be career limiting.
Part II offers insight into how and why it remains deeply challenging to integrate kids and careers. It looks at the failed public policies that divide us, reinforcing and fomenting class dynamics that ensure some of us get more than others and leave many far behind. It argues that overcoming caregiver bias is the last frontier of true workplace inclusion and is at the heart of so much that is ailing American families. It addresses the significant shifts in attitudes by men who want a richer, more engaging personal life. Finally, it considers workforce dynamics that are opening up new ways to be a significant contributor without sacrificing one’s passions and ability to meet one’s personal commitments.
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In Part III, the book offers strategies and tactics to help readers develop their own personal plans for integrating caregiving with careers. The goal? Enabling them to lean in not just to their careers, but to the full bloom of their lives. It challenges readers to consider the risks and consequences of a career break and then offers them solutions if they feel that break is a family necessity. The book concludes with targeted solutions for individuals, companies, and our country as a whole.
Work PAUSE Thrive is not an anthem for the “opt out” movement. To be clear, my agenda is not to convince women to leave the workforce. On the contrary, I wish women didn’t have to put their careers on the back burner so they could give their families the care needed. But the reality is we have a culture that does not place caregiving as a priority and so women remain forced to find alternative solutions. Until we see real changes in our public policies and workplace cultures that support families, women and men will need solutions. This book offers some.
Also, it must be stated that the advice in this book is not for all women, or men, for that matter. It doesn’t try to solve the seemingly intractable problem of mothers in poverty or mothers barely holding on to the middle class or men who want to be more than just the “ideal worker.” Not because they don’t deserve to be supported or empowered to find solutions to their work-life issues, but because I can’t speak for their journeys. I can only speak for mine.
Not long ago, my daughter asked me how I had planned my career so that I could be the mother I am I told her I hadn’t. I told her I have spent much of my time on the defense, zigging and zagging in response to the things life put in my way. I told her I had regrets and ongoing self-doubt that still nags me to this day. I told her of the financial challenges and the compromises and the “woulda, coulda, shouldas” that are the reality of having pulled back and paused my career. And then I told her what the women I interviewed told me: I don’t regret a thing.
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