Thursday, May 10, 2012

Building your "Somebody"

As a woman in the workforce, I believe that it's very important to find ways to build your "somebody" profile. By "somebody", I mean yourself. I'm a dreamer and somewhat of an idealist by nature, but I'm also very much a realist by experience. I have my lofty goals of helping people using my lawyerly skills while becoming an arts and crafts/baking queen, loving and doting wife, and one day, super cool mom. I also have dreams of becoming "somebody" - building a name for myself based on my characteristics, wisdom and values, the person I want to be, someday. The reality is, all the people I respect and admire became "somebody", one step at a time, and one struggle at a time. Building your "somebody" begins now. Instead of just dreaming of becoming this amazing person (which we probably already are) it's high time we started taking great measures to be our "somebody", now. Women often have a tendency to put their personal goals, and definitely professional goals, on the back burner. There is a sense of wanting to sacrifice for your family so we often end up in dead end jobs because it's comfortable and allows us to get home on time, or not have to travel, etc. That's a respectable life choice and gives all the more reason to start building your "somebody" profile now so that you can fall back on it later if you do decide to make those decisions. There are a few steps I've identified as key first steps (or second, or third and so on) necessary to build your "somebody" profile. By no means do I think this is an exhaustive, or even accurate, list. But they are steps that I believe have helped me, and at the very least, they can only help you. Make it a goal to try at least a few of these over the next few weeks, and stay committed. I'll do the same, and let's see where we end up! FYI-these do not have to be in order.

1) Identify an everyday role model - This is somebody that you interact with or see on a daily basis. I recommend somebody at work, since that's where you spend a majority of your week. Choose carefully and make sure this person has the characteristics you would like to emulate or expand upon (reputation, image, intelligence, work ethics, personality, attitude, perception, balance, etc). This serves as a daily reminder of who you strive to be, your goals and your values.

2) Identify a not-so-everyday role model - This is helpful if you really can't think of anyone for step 1. Try and think of someone that you don't necessarily interact with daily on a personal level, but somebody you strive to be like. Think of what they have accomplished in their lives, their "success" stories or the reputation they have built. This can be a fictional character, a celebrity, perhaps a partner or an executive that you haven't really spoken to, even a blogger! This is helpful because it's more of a far-reaching goal so you know where you want to end up. Obviously, I'm not saying try to be this person exactly, and even if this person doesn't really DO the things you strive to do, it's helpful to have someone as a guide.

3) Network - During and after law school, everyone kept telling me to network. I kind of hate it. It's awkward, it's unnatural and it doesn't really feel like it changes anything in my life. But it really does, if you do it right and if you do it well. You don't have to attend a bunch of events, but it does mean reaching out to somebody that is not already in your network and getting to know them. For every 20-30 people you meet, you will likely make at least 1 person who sticks with you and will come in handy one day. For me, I met one random dude at an event who is a client. Two years later, we are still in touch and try to catch up once in a while. If anything, hanging out with him shows others that I am trying to develop myself on my own, and that says a lot about you. Another example is, I've been keeping in touch with some younger professionals who I work alongside often. They've provided me with some valuable resources and vice versa.

4) Join something - Find some sort of community that you can become a part of where you share a common interest. By having a common purpose/interest, you decrease the awkwardness and you build a good circle of friends. It's a good place to be open and unwind and share your thoughts. Everyone needs an outlet of some sort, and it's great to share it with people who can help you expand your interests. I joined a young professionals network of people who care about microfinance and investing in women in third world countries. I've been really bad about attending events or helping out, but I hope to change that this year. I also aim to join a book club this year! Know of any?

5) Find a mentor - This is really hard. Probably the hardest one of all. If you can use the person in step 1, that's perfect. If not, find someone else whose judgement you trust and who won't blab your conversations. If you find a good mentor, it's absolutely priceless. I encourage you to try any one, if not all, of these regardless of your profession. I think they apply in almost every scenario! I encourage you to try and build your "somebody" now, and make that somebody the person you are.

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