Career advice that works for you.

Are You Doing the Laundry Instead of Your Career?

Posted on November 30, 2009 by Emily Bardeen

Have you ever noticed how sometimes perfectly normal and intelligent people create non-existent problems to avoid their career issues? Like my wonderful sister, who is known for her love of laundry. Seriously.

To help you avoid “Doing the Laundry”, follow these three simple rules:

1. Show Up

My sister, the most brilliant, best big sister ever, decided to become an architect. She applied to Ivy League Schools and didn’t get in ANYWHERE. It was shocking – like the magnetic poles reversing. She had never failed at anything. But she hadn’t taken drafting or calculus — no wonder she didn’t get in.

She hadn’t shown up.

Be clear on what is required to achieve your goal – and fulfill each requirement!

2. Stay Present in the Moment

So, she took the courses, re-applied; got in and went to an Ivy League School. Graduated; got married; was hired by a small firm. Had 2 sons and became a stay at home mom.

Which brings us to laundry. I was visiting my sister in her awesome 18th century home with the incredible kitchen addition (including laundry) she had designed. We were in the laundry, and she was folding clothes.

I innocently asked when she might go back to work, since her boys were in school. She looked at me, shocked. “How could I possibly go back to work? Look at all the laundry there is to do!”

Clearly, she was not present in the moment.

Be aware of conflicting issues that make it difficult for you to achieve your goals – whether they are emotional, financial, logistical, etc. These are the kinds of problems that tend to pull us away from the present, and into the world of laundry.

3. Be Willing to Go Where the Path Takes You

We talked about what was going on. Well, my sister couldn’t bear sitting in an office everyday making designs she would never help build. And she didn’t want to be away from her boys all day. They were overwhelming problems. Doing the laundry was her way of not addressing them.

After acknowledging her career issues, my sister spent  time self-reflecting and talking with others. She had enjoyed doing the addition on their historic home. She liked being on a job site. She liked working with clients and subcontractors. She liked hands-on architecture, not theoretical design.

Utimately, she started a home-based business doing part-time architecture. She began with what she liked: additions for period homes. Her first clients were people she knew; they sent her more clients and her business grew. Today she’s even the chair of the local Planning Commission.

She followed the path where it led her.

Be willing to risk the possibility of having and achieving a dream. Each time you think there is an unsurmountable problem, think “But what if I could do this? What would I do next?”

 My sister’s efforts have paid off. She does work that is personally and professionally fulfilling and was able to arrange her hours to have time with her boys. And she still has plenty of time to do the laundry (the real kind).

Special thanks to my sister for allowing me to share her story on the Internet, as I have done previously in workshops where it has been useful to hundreds of participants. Thank you!!!

1 to “Are You Doing the Laundry Instead of Your Career?”

  1. Nelly says:

    That’s very inspiring about your sister. I wish I could have a sister like her!
    Nelly@College Degrees

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