In January 2010, Bain consultant turned stay-at-home mom Kristy Williams wrote a posted titled Five Dreams I Think I'll Date. At that time, I asked Kristy if she'd be willing to write a follow-up piece in July; she kindly agreed.
Six months ago I began a process of dating some of my dreams – spending some time on several potential dreams to determine which ones I really wanted to pursue. The process was fascinating and shockingly quick. In one case, within an hour I knew it was time to move on to something else. Forcing myself to focus on things I enjoyed in theory helped me to determine where my passions truly lie. The end result culminated in the pursuit of a dream not even on the list.
Outside of those tasks I am duty-bound to perform, I really want to love what I’m doing. And guess what – I don’t, at least right now, love the California governor’s race. I read up on all the candidates from both major parties and determined that my political views were most in line with Meg Whitman’s. However, as I looked into how I could get involved with her campaign, I felt a sense of drudgery instead of excitement. I am not exactly sure why I was so unenthusiastic, but I can’t deny how I felt. Drudgery is not the feeling I want associated with my free time. I suspect someday I will want to become more involved in politics, but for now my focus is elsewhere.
Dating made it clear that I do enjoy writing, but only opportunistically, as interesting topics come to mind or as publishing opportunities come available. I was able to publish, on www.designmom.com, the story of my struggle to conceive, and continue to look for another opportunity to “publish” before the end of the year. As for business consulting, I am helping my sister as she starts a wedding invitation business, www.whitefielddesign.com (she’s a designer by training; I help on the business and editing side). As I considered other opportunities in this area, I realized that at least in the short-term, I need to be passionate about the person I’m consulting for. My free time is too limited and money not enough of a motivator to engage too deeply in this area right now. So again, an area I enjoy but where I will remain – for now– only moderately involved.
As I considered how to best date my teaching dream, I realized I’m already pursuing this on a small scale – I am the Sunday School teacher for the adults at my church. I love this assignment, but also wanted to try something else. After some deliberation, I decided to start a non-fiction book club. I hoped this would allow me to learn about interesting topics and to discuss them with people I respect. The first three meetings have been a great success. I send out discussion questions in advance and lead the discussion, which seems to meet my desire for teaching, and I also get to learn from the ideas and experiences of others. My favorite read thus far is Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. Next on the list is Outliers, which should be an interesting departure from the concepts we’ve previously discussed.
The final potential dream, racing, has been on hold. I’m having a baby in mid-August, and am not so bent on racing to pursue this dream while in my enlarged stated. I’ve been reading up on races in my area and plan to run a 10K within 3 months of the birth and will start “dating” then. A few of the races that really interest me are 5K mud-runs (quite a few exist in my area) and the XTERRA race series (a triathlon involving swimming, mountain biking, and a trail run). I expect a mud-run will happen long before an XTERRA race due to training demands but I intend to accomplish both before baby #3 enters my thoughts.
The most meaningful insight from all this dating and dreaming was inspired by a comment Robin Dickinson left on my initial post – “I read your post with great interest and would like to propose an idea: Mentoring inspiring and compassionate leaders.” This idea excited me more than any of the potential dreams I came up with on my own. As I fleshed out the idea, I decided I wanted to mentor female students from my alma mater, BYU, who were interested in a career in business consulting.
From that effort I realized what I really want to do with my precious time is organize and carry-out a Women in Business Conference at BYU – attended (hopefully) by students, working professionals, and women like myself who are currently focusing their attentions on the home. I’ve been brainstorming the idea for several months now and have recently begun to engage others in order to make this a reality (if you have any interest in planning or participating, please let me know – I’m in the very initial stages of planning and am targeting a March 2011 date and a Provo, UT location).
In dreaming up and planning this conference, I find myself fully energized. I see a real need to bring together like-minded women to discuss the issues unique to women in business, especially women of faith who value family, motherhood, and excellence in all things. I hope to help students better understand the various paths available to them and identify role models and mentors who can help them as they make important career and life decisions. In addition, I hope the conference can be a valuable tool for those of us far past our school days – providing an opportunity to expand our network, make interesting personal connections, and explore how we can live our faith while developing our talents and keeping up our skills.
Dating my dreams has been a wonderful experience, with the result being far from what I expected. I hope to repeat this exercise every few years and really look forward to what I will discover.
What dream have you dated recently?
Any unexpected dreams, as has been the case with Kristy?
Any thoughts for her about what you'd like to see her do with a Women In Business conference?