When Lori Mihalich-Levin was preparing to return to work after the birth of her second child, she couldn't find any resources to help her make a smooth transition, so she created one! Proving once again that necessity is the mother of invention, her successful Mindful Return blog and e-course have helped hundreds of women navigate the transition back into the workforce after maternity leave. Whether or not you are a working parent, you will be inspired by her passion, practicality, and heart for helping others. Read on for great advice about following your heart - without losing your head!
How did you know it was time to make a change?
When I returned to work after having my first baby, things were hard. When I went back to work after my second maternity leave, things were dire. 1 child + 1 child felt like 85 children, nobody was sleeping, and I really didn’t know how to hold it all together. I became fixated on the idea that there were courses for everything for new moms and babies except how to navigate the return to work after maternity leave, and I got VERY fired up about creating such a resource.
So I started taking baby steps. For 30 minutes a few times a week, at night, after the kids were in bed, and lunches were made, I began writing an online course to help new moms with this transition. The concept grew into a blog, a Wordpress website, a Facebook page, and a business…but really teeny bit by teeny bit! I was working full time and had a 1 year old and a 3 year old, so things just had to happen slowly.
I’m a healthcare lawyer by day, and I’m now transitioning into a new role, in which I’ll be able to spend at least one day a week on Mindful Return – and I couldn’t be more thrilled. Through this process of starting a new business, I’ve learned a lot about myself. That I actually LOVE being an entrepreneur. And LOVE helping new mamas with this transition by creating a support network for them I didn’t have.
What gave you the confidence you needed to move forward?
A few things: (1) I took an online course myself (a fantastic course called the Abundant Mama Project that helps mothers focus on the abundance in their lives instead of just the overwhelm) and after taking it, I said “Hey, I can do that!”; (2) My fabulous husband is an entrepreneur – he owns his own career coaching business called Ready, Set, Launch LLC – and he reassured me that starting a business was something I could do, too; and (3) Talking to other women who were truly struggling with the return to work, and knowing I had learned skills that could help them transition more smoothly. So the passion for making a difference in women’s personal and professional lives was really the spark.
Who/what inspires you today?
Mmm…great question, as I feel inspired all the time by so, so many things. From my kiddos who inspire me to slow down, be in the moment, and sink into their precious cuddles and giggles…to my husband who went out on his own and is a successful solopreneur…to other women who run heart-centered businesses like Pleasance Silicki at lil omm yoga and Alexandra Hughes at In Essence Coaching…to my new mama clients who are always pushing me to offer more resources…to my mentors in life who have told me I’m good at what I do, and that I can be a leader. I’m really not one who lacks for sources of inspiration, which is something I feel really lucky about.
What are you dreaming about now?
Our family vacation to Florida next week and some mornings on the beach! Business-wise, I’m dreaming about growing my e-courses to groups of 50+ so that more and more women all over the globe can be inspired to be leaders inside of the space of their return from maternity leave. And to be honest, I’m dreaming of the United States becoming a country where paid parental leave – maternity and paternity – is the norm.
What is the best piece of advice you have received?
“Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good enough.” And similarly, as my friend and women’s advocate Valerie Young says, “You don’t have to be an expert to be effective.” In this starting-a-business world as well as in parenting, I’ve learned it’s important just to start doing, and not let perfectionism get in the way. We tend to hold ourselves back by saying, “I’ll launch this thing once I have it perfectly ready!” Which means we’ll never launch. Just starting something – whatever your passion is – gets you in the game. And the game is WAY more fun than the sidelines.
What do you know now that you wish you had known when you started?
Creating Mindful Return and pouring energy, love, time, and resources into it, hasn’t felt like work – because I’m so passionate about it. But it has required WAY more patience than I predicted at the beginning. Especially when you’re starting a business “on the side,” and you only have a few precious minutes for it each day, things move slowly. It takes time to build a tribe, take care of customers, and get your name out there, and I wanted it all to happen right away. Had I known that, I would have started working with a patience-related mantra (like “you are enough; you’ve done enough for today”) much sooner!
What encouragement can you give to someone who wants to make a change but is apprehensive?
You can stick your toe in the water without jumping in entirely. You don’t have to give up your day job, throw away the skills you currently use, and barrel forward into something new – if you don’t want to! I’ve learned to tolerate more and more risk in stages, not all at once, and so far so good. Once you have an idea and a passion, run it by friends and potential clients to reality check it. Keep them on board as your advisors. And move only as fast as you want to. YOU get to set the pace in making this change.
What book(s) have provided guidance or inspiration for your New Beginning?
I’m always reading and getting inspired by something! A few that come to mind include Daring Greatly, by Brené Brown, The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp, and The Confidence Code by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman.