By Christine Staricka, BS, IBCLC, RLC
I’m challenging you to reflect by acting. Let’s use this season of reflection to create and build something that will have you excitedly moving into 2022 instead of shuffling along and hoping for something better to appear. Like I tell my clients, hope is not a whole plan.
When a lactation colleague is frustrated or overwhelmed, we often remind them that it’s good to focus on helping one parent and one baby at a time. Grab a pen and a sticky note and write down the name of one you helped this past year. A baby, a parent, a dyad – whoever comes to mind when you look back. Add just one word that reminds you of what was awesome about helping them – it could be about them OR you. Now stick that note on your bulletin board, in your planner for 2022, or wherever you will see it every day. That memory needs to be right in front of your face all the time, and the longer it is, the more you’re going to remember about that situation, and you’ll strengthen your ability to slow down and focus on who you’re helping in the future. This works, I promise!
Your second action is going to take a little more planning. During this time of year, many, if not most, of us have opportunities to see and talk to family members, old friends, and people we don’t see regularly. Let’s take advantage of that. Maybe you don’t talk much about your work when you are at personal events – make this year different. Start a conversation with someone new about the work you do. Ask what they imagine you do when you’re at work. Ask how THEY would describe your job to someone else. Listen to their reactions, their stories, and how they perceive lactation practice. Make this conversation an opportunity to learn about what others think about chest/breastfeeding, human milk, modern parents and parenting, the need for lactation support. Let them do most of the talking, and process it all later when you’re on your own again. This act of initiating your own learning opportunity helps you break out of your own patterns of thinking for a bit.
Your third and final action includes a series of exercises. Here’s what we’ll explore here: your purpose is the reason you got into the world of lactation care – who you set out to serve, the message you planned to get out into the world, the impact you wanted to make. As you move through different events and phases in your career – initial certification(s), changes in workplace, achieving goals, assuming leadership roles – you sometimes need to look back at that purpose to be sure you are still following your own intentions.
Your purpose doesn’t have to be static – you can adjust it as time goes on as you learn more about your abilities and the environment in which you practice. Alternately, your purpose can remain exactly the same throughout your career.
- What is the one message you hope will be your legacy when your career has ended?
- Who are the people you most want to serve through your lactation work?
- What are 3 things that make you uniquely qualified to serve the population you care most about impacting?
- When you first decided that you needed to be part of the lactation field, what did you imagine you would do on a day-to-day basis?
- How are you feeling right now about your ability to get your message out to the people you most want to target?
- Does your current lactation practice setting allow you to reach out to your targeted audience? Is that something you could change?
- Which of these would it be possible to change now? What about in the future? How far into the future?
- Change your work setting or workplace
- Add something – job, volunteer role, etc. – outside your main work or practice
- Explore what others are doing to target YOUR intended audience
- ?? (Dream big here – what would you change right now about your lactation practice if there were no limits? What would you plan to change in 1 year? In 3 years?)
If you’re going to evolve as a lactation care provider, you’ve got to dream big to discover your next destination. Let’s share our ideas on how we plan to evolve and grow using the hashtag #EvolveLactationCare on social media. I’ll be looking for your posts and adding some of my own!
Christine Staricka is an IBCLC and trained childbirth educator in California. She is excited by every opportunity to educate and inspire current and aspiring lactation care providers and is a lactation speaker and clinical instructor. She provides lactation care through her local Baby Café. You can download a workbook with the above exercises and learn more about Christine and her work at www.christinestaricka.com.
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