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A Picture Perfect 'Slash' Lifestyle


Article by Karen Kwong

Photography by Stock Images

I have some questions for my fellow career moms. How is this COVID-19 pandemic impacting your jobs? Are you an essential worker? Have you been working from home? Laid off? On furlough? How do you feel right now - Stressed? Anxious? Overwhelmed? Relieved? Grateful? Motivated?

This unprecedented time had me going through quite an emotional turmoil. At first I was grateful that both my husband and I were able to work from home since the very beginning of the "stay at home" mandates, thanks to our employers' flexible and supportive policy. But soon, I was overwhelmed. Working from home with three school age kids is an extremely challenging task. Between meetings, work projects, feeding them, checking their school work, managing their activities...although I have always been proud of my time management and organizational skills, I felt defeated and exhausted. I bet many of you feel the same way.

I wish that was the only issue. On the positive side, I do appreciate that I get to spend more quality time with my family and was able to cross a few things off my to-do list, such as cleaning up the bookshelves in my home office and learning to bake a cotton sponge cake. Starting the second week, everyone at home seemed to be more adjusted to the new lifestyle with less complaints. But at the same time I noticed that my work load started to go down. Well, the nature of my job isn't really meant for working from home. I also heard more and more friends' employment status being negatively impacted — pay reduction, layoff, furlough... And that made me anxious. Luckily I have a very supportive boss and he arranged more work for me through collaborative projects with other teams. However, I subconsciously worry about money more. My daily morning gratitude and affirmation routine is losing its power on suppressing my negative thoughts regarding financial stability. What if this...What if that...I started to hear myself wondering more often.

Rewind back 10 years ago; I was laid off from my very first job due the Great Recession. I just had my second baby and it was a devastating feeling at the time. The biggest guilt I had was to pull my oldest out of daycare, not knowing how to explain to her that I could no longer afford it. It made me realize how important it is to have a backup plan to curb financial insecurity and cover for the rainy or even stormy days. I joined the gig economy but it wasn't until 2015 I finally had the courage and motive to launch a real side photography business. That is so far the best decision I have ever made in my career life! My photography side business has been providing significant supplemental income for my family.

However, during this pandemic, I cannot even count on that! I photograph mostly people, so the "stay at home" mandates prevents me from offering that service. I am able to earn some quick money by teaching online photography classes and shoot contact-less product photos for essential businesses. But since there is a reduced amount of such photography job offerings out there right now, and we now often provide services at a much lower price as a way to support other businesses and give back to our communities during this difficult time, money earned from those activities is not going to cover the loss, say if anything happen to my main job.

Finding a 'Slash' Lifestyle

I decided to turn my focus into identifying other income sources instead. I refer to the lifestyle of having multiple career personalities a 'slash' lifestyle. Once you get the hang of it, finding income streams relating to or that can create synergy with what you are already doing is actually not that difficult. But just like anything else, you need to put in a lot of hard work at the beginning. While being quarantined at home during COVID-19, it is the perfect time to learn new skills and work on new ideas. I have identified four other possible income sources for me through the exercises. Whenever I start feeling anxious, I would convert those negative energy into motivation to analyze what I need in order to get those other side gigs going. And that has helped improve my mood tremendously.

This difficult time inspires me to pursue my other passions, which includes forming a Facebook group for fellow like-minded, smart, independent, ambitious, and beautiful inside and out career moms to together explore a picture perfect 'slash' lifestyle. In my newly formed group "Picture Perfect Career Moms", we will discuss topics such as seeking extra income stream ideas, setting mindset for success, becoming a boss of our own time, improving our productivity, turning hobby into a real business, pricing and budgeting for profits, marketing for a strong brand, loving ourselves, and much more. If you like this idea, click here to join many of us for motivation and positive vibes, and share your expertise to help each other grow!

As a photographer, I should be making my own photos for my blog. However, it is difficult to do so during quarantine. Thanks to other talented photographers, I am able to use these gorgeous stock photos. They came from various sources such as Shutterstock, Scopio, and Creative Market.

Businesses featured in this article