I can’t believe this is really happening. Since I was five years old and learned what a book was, I have always wanted to be an author. For years, I have put this dream off as I created my family and my dream life. But the day has finally come. Back in September of 2022, I knew I was ready to write a personal growth book for moms. And today, I am absolutely giddy to share the first chapter with you
Before we get started, a few disclaimers. First, this is still in first draft mode. I still have a long process ahead as I pitch the book to publishers and research self-publishing, if traditional publishing doesn’t work out. Second, 13 beta readers have a copy of this book right now and are working their way through it to give me feedback from busy moms that get it.
Finally, if you are excited to read more, be sure to add your name to the release list. I will give you a heads up of when you can expect to hold my personal growth book for moms in your hands!
All that being said, I’m going to wipe off my sweating palms and introduce you to my third baby, my unnamed personal growth book, chapter 1!
It’s been five years and I can still remember exactly where I was the moment I realized I couldn’t live like this anymore.
I was sitting in my Nissan Pathfinder, waiting to turn left at the light to go to my school where I was a 5th grade teacher. With my blinker clicking methodically, a debilitating thought struck me all at once: I was 32 years old and had 32 years left to go to a job I hated.
Essentially, my entire lifetime. That thought gutted me. I knew in my heart that I just couldn’t do it. To be honest, I was not sure how I was going to make it through the day, nevertheless the next 32 years! I knew I would never want my girls to go to a job every day that left them feeling unfulfilled and hopeless. But what the heck was I going to do about it?
At the time, I really did not know. I had no back up plan, no safety net to fall back into. I had landed what I thought was my dream life and was currently living the life I had once dreamed about when I was an 18-year old, off to college. The “dream job” had been landed, married an amazing man, bought a home and had two beautiful daughters. So why wasn’t I happy?
I know I’m not alone in this story. But I also know that there are thousands of moms in similar situations that don’t feel like they can change their circumstances. And trust me, I get it. But what would happen if you used that pit in your stomach as a catalyst for your personal growth journey, instead of as an excuse?
Spoiler alert: do you know what saved me? Personal growth and a whole lot of it. When I hit my lowest low at the traffic light that day, I knew that something had to change. The thing that terrified me most was that I was pretty sure that the thing that needed to change was me. Looking back, I am so grateful for that moment and I still give a little smile as I sail through that intersection now, looking forward to my future instead of feeling trapped by it.
My personal growth journey led me to some pretty unexpected places. Even now, as I write this, I am in disbelief that I was able to create this life that I am in love with in just the span of a few short years – while working full-time and being a full-time mom and wife. If I can do it, you can do it too, mama.
Similarly to a lot of my clients, I was raised with a super strong sense of loyalty and a deep desire for stability. I believed at my core that I always had to finish what I started, no matter how I felt about it or how happy I was. So when I got my teaching degree and landed my dream teaching job – boom! Instant plan for the next 37.5 years of my life. Sweeeeeet! Do people still say that anymore? I’m pretty sure we said that in 2011, so let’s roll with it. ANYWAY, with that teaching job, I could literally tell you what I’d be doing in 15 years to the day. At the time, that made me absolutely giddy. Stability? Check. Loyalty? Double check.
The first two years of teaching were good. My husband and I got married, everything seemed to be working out according to “plan”. In the seven years that followed that though, the wheels started to fall off the bus. I quickly realized that I was stuck in a life that wasn’t my dream life. And to be honest, it wasn’t even close.
In my third year of teaching, I was physically attacked by a parent at a parent-teacher conference because I put her child on a behavior chart. That experience rattled me to my core and caused my anxiety to skyrocket. I finally realized I needed help when I refused to get out of the car one date night because I was afraid we would bump into the mom that attacked me. I began therapy shortly after that. And while therapy helped, being in the classroom where I had no administrative support was a challenge every single day. I no longer felt safe at work and the constant berating from parents ruined me. To this day, I can honestly say that I still loved the students and my passion for teaching was still going strong, but something changed in me that third year in the classroom.
From there on out, I put a smile on my face every day and kept showing up until late 2014 when my first daughter, Aubrey, was born. My husband and I worked really hard to save up for an extended maternity leave. Because of that I was able to take a leave of absence from teaching to be home with her for almost ten months.
During that time away from the classroom, I desperately looked for a way out of teaching. Most of my efforts were put into actively helping my husband look for higher-paying administrative positions. I figured if he could get an administrator job, we would make up for my paycheck and I would not have to go back to work. I had a feeling that being a stay-at-home mom was not going to be for me, but I was willing to try if it meant I could leave the classroom.
My husband got heartbreakingly close to locking in an administrative position half a dozen times, but in the end, none of them worked out. I was devastated. A few months before I was set to go back to work, I applied for a few jobs myself, but rejected the interview when they called. Nothing felt right and I was terrified about our financial situation if I made any big changes. We also knew that we wanted to have another child and I did not want to give up another potentially long (unpaid) maternity leave by starting a new job. So by the time August rolled around, I resigned myself to the fact that I was stuck and returned to the classroom.
Around that same time, I slowly began to start exploring the idea of personal growth. This is embarrassing to even admit, but I was so mortified by the stigma of personal growth and self-help that it took me a few weeks to muster the courage to even take a personal growth book out of the library (it was Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, in case you’re curious). Progress was slow, but I was grateful that I was at least doing something to grow into the role model that I wanted to be for my daughter.
That is also about the time that I discovered Rachel Hollis. Although she has recently fallen from grace, her book “Girl Wash Your Face” helped me to discover that it’s OK to want more for your life. She taught me that you don’t have to settle for a life that you’re not genuinely excited about. So while it wasn’t a huge AH-HA moment, the seed had been planted.
Fast-forward to January of 2018, it was the winter after my final maternity leave with my second daughter. This was the day of the Traffic Light Revelation and I parked my car at school with a new question ringing in my head: this was my situation … what the heck was I going to do about it?
What was the NEW plan?! At the time, it was the dead of winter, and my seasonal affective depressive disorder was hitting hard. I was working full-time and felt myself sliding deeper down every day. I wasn’t the mom I wanted to be for my kids or the partner I wanted to be for my husband. One desperate afternoon, I made a list of things that I was interested in. I just wanted something to excite me again.
I wanted to prove to myself that I could still GET excited about something. There were a bunch of half-hearted things on the list and I just picked the one that intrigued me the most: photography. While I battled my rut, I figured I would learn to use my expensive camera that my dad had bought us as a wedding present at the same time. I found a free online course through Pinterest and immediately got hooked.
My husband was so excited to see me start to pull myself out of my winter rut that he didn’t think twice when I asked him if we could take $500 from our savings to put towards an online photography class. This left our savings account at a dangerously low level, but at that point, it was desperate times and we did not even care.
I had literally NO time to do the class (remember, I was teaching full-time and we had 2 kids under the age 4). So, I decided that I had to create my own time. I began devouring books and podcasts about how to maximize your time and discovered amazing authors like Darren Hardy and Mel Robbins. They inspired me to take advantage of my situation and I started waking up at 4am to go through the content of the class. It was too dark to practice in the morning, so I’d run home after school to apply what I learned before the sun would set at 5pm (yay, New England).
I swore up and down that I’d never turn my hobby into a business, but then on August 1st, I launched “Sharon Leger Photography” with all of the confidence that I had gained in my year-long personal growth journey. The rest, they say, is history.
When a part-time literacy interventionist position came up at my school that May, I used my newfound confidence and growth mindset to take the leap and apply. My husband and I celebrated the day that I got the job and I knew that I was slowly making my traffic light revelation a thing of the past. My new job had me working three days a week, so I was able to dedicate one full day a week to my business and one full day to my girls, time that I knew I would never regret. Once Covid hit, I took an extended absence and then finally resigned from my teaching job in May of 2021. I can honestly say, I haven’t looked back.
Friends, all that was 3 years ago. Since then, I realized how much I needed a personal growth plan to make huge changes in my life. Now, I am sitting in my own photography studio as a full-time family photographer and helping to empower other busy moms to be the best version of themselves. I have a protocol that I now rely on to hold myself to high standards, especially during the longer winter months. Every morning, I am excited to go to work and I go to sleep at night knowing that I am modeling for my girls how to live your life on purpose, even if it’s not always easy. I have a dream life vision that I am actively moving towards, each and every day, by following my 3-year action plan.
The intention behind this book is NOT for you to start your own business, or quit your job or write a book, or start a podcast or do what I did. My intention is for you to feel like you have direction, support and the ability to create a PLAN to be the best version of yourself for you and for your family. Whatever that plan may look like. Everyone’s journey is going to look different and that is more than OK. It’s just about growing into the best version of yourself, for yourself and for your family. And who doesn’t want that?!
So if you decide to follow along on this journey, you are going to learn:
When I first started on my own personal growth journey, I scoured the Internet for resources for moms. There had to be someone out there who got it. Someone who understood having to get to daycare pick-up on time, having to RSVP to all the birthday parties and who wanted more for themselves and their families. And mama, I struggled to find that. There just wasn’t anything out there.
Every time I picked up a book at Barnes and Noble and looked at the back, the old guy with grown kids smiled back at me, promising me he was going to help me manage my time better. Doubtful, Dude-That-Never-Has-To-Pack-A-Nut-Free-Lunch. I wanted a fellow mom that got it, that could just tell me what to do as I stood in the middle of the bookstore, wondering if I had outlived my last dry shampoo treatment.
Without an expert to help me, I realized that I would have to design a personal growth journey on my own. So I figured it out. I researched, read every personal growth book I could get my hands on and experimented. I wrote, created and designed a life that I was excited to wake up for in the morning. Occasionally, I cried. But by the end, I look back on my journey and feel nothing but gratitude for the struggles and the confidence I gained along the way.
And now, I want to share that instruction manual with you.
Five years ago, the personal growth section at Barnes and Noble was maybe three shelves. Now, rows upon rows of books are dedicated to self improvement and personal development. While this is beyond amazing, it is also humbling to realize that most of them are not for us – the moms in the trenches that want to make a big change while the clock of our kid’s childhoods is ticking loudly in our ears.
This book is for you if:
And why now? It’s time. It’s time for you to create a life that your children want to emulate. It’s time to pull yourself up by your bootstraps and get the support and motivation you need to make a real change. After all, little eyes are always watching.
Stick with me for a minute. I am a sucker for a good metaphor (it’s the English major in me): the best parallel I can share with you is that I strongly believe that your kids should see you workout. What does this have to do with personal growth? I believe kids should see you workout, see the messy process, instead of just seeing the end result. If you only workout when your kids are at daycare, sleeping or at Grandma’s house, they will never see the literal sweat that goes ino that progress.
I believe it is the same for your personal growth. Waiting until you kids no longer “need” you is not a good enough reason for not changing your reality today. If you are not happy right now, your kids feel that. They see the frustration, the stress and the anxiety. And not only do they see it, but they feel it too. Your job as their parent is to acknowledge what is not working and start putting in the work. One day, they may find themselves in a similar situation. And don’t you want them to look back on their childhood, remember what you did and follow suit? That is what I thought!
When I went back to work after my first maternity leave, a loving colleague reassured me with “You are showing your daughter what it means to be a working mom, since she will be doing the same thing some day.” At first, I remember that thought being extremely comforting. But as I got more and more dissatisfied with my current life context, I began to realize that my daughter had a front row seat to my miserable experience in a career I no longer loved. It was time to flip the script. I wanted her to see me recreating myself, with time for her to enjoy the happy mom that was going to come from the process.
Personal growth is the best investment that you can make in yourself. Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not necessarily talking about a financial investment here, despite the fact that I will say I have invested thousands of dollars into my personal growth journey over time. But at the beginning, your personal growth investment is mainly going to be your time. When you pick up this book and commit to it, you are agreeing that yes, you are going to make yourself a priority and you are going to do it now.
As an avid book lover, I can admit that I have several books that I have purchased with gusto, then allowed to sit, dusty and unread on my shelf. Mama, make yourself a promise right now. Not this book, not this time.
This time, you are making an investment. Not just a financial investment, but an emotional investment in yourself. By picking up this book, you are acknowledging that you are ready to live a life you are obsessed with. Today is Day One. It is time to stop telling yourself the story that “one day” you will tackle your personal growth. One day, when you’re less tired, have more job security, are with a better partner. Let that story go. You are no longer waiting, you are showing up for your life right now, today, on center stage with your kids in the front row.
The time that you invest in yourself now is going to pay off – both now and in the future. When you take an hour to read through a chapter and your daughter sees you taking notes in your notebook, a little light bulb is going to go off in her mind. If you swing by the library and take out two books on personal growth, your husband will more than likely notice. By modeling this new lifestyle, this openness to growth, you are going to start a domino effect that you will reap the rewards of for years to come, I promise.
At the end of each chapter, you are going to find a concrete action step or two that you can take action on right away. These action steps are going to take you 30 minutes or less to accomplish and will help to jumpstart your growth in this particular area.
In the conclusion of the book, I created a concrete summary and action plan for you to follow. So whether you want to read the whole book straight through, or take it one chapter at a time, you have a resource to help you through.
Today’s action step is to create a timeline of your life, thus far. Time during motherhood is a tricky thing (don’t even get me started about time during motherhood during a pandemic!) and events can get away from you faster than you realize. So take a minute to open a Google doc on your computer and create a table with 3 columns. In the left hand column, write the year; the middle column, any major life events that happened that year (started a job, had a baby, got married, etc.) and then on the right, write down any important take-aways from that year, or time.
If you are over the top, like me, you can even break this down by month. Obviously, not every month is going to have anything significant in it, but it will help you later as you begin to track your personal growth journey.
Oh my goodness, what a rush! Thank you so much for listening to the first chapter of my book and being a safe place to share it. If you are as excited to read more as I am to share more, be sure to add your name to the release list.
Finally, if you feel inspired to, please share this episode with your friends. Most publishers require authors to have a following of 10,000 subscribers in order to play the publishing game. My following is a mighty team and we can only get stronger as we grow. Thank you for sharing with other busy moms who could use some inspiration!
If you enjoyed this episode, be sure to subscribe on Spotify so you don’t miss next week’s episode. I am going to be sharing with you what my Q1 MAP Book and goal notebook look like at the end of March. If you are thinking about creating one of these systems for yourself, this might be the perfect episode for you to check them out!
Finally, if you want to connect between episodes, be sure to give me a follow over on Instagram – @sharonlegercoaching. I would love to support you on your personal growth journey!
If so, be sure to share it with a friend – this helps busy moms like you to find me!
And finally, you can also check out these related episodes that I think you’ll be obsessed with: