Single Parent Educational Attainment

How I Secured My Financial Future

Contributing Writer
Cathy Olieslaeger, MBA Student
Jack Welch Management Institute

Do you remember that one moment when you hit rock bottom and you knew you had to get out of an unhappy place? I do. It wasn’t pretty.

In 2007, when I became a single parent, head of household, breadwinner and primary caretaker of two toddlers with no support structure to back me up, I was in survival mode.  Failure was not an option. I could only get through life one day at a time. I was too afraid to even think about the future.

Seven years later, I was still in survival mode but with a gnawing feeling that this rat race couldn’t last forever. I was stuck in a job thinking I should be doing more with my life.

After reading Brendon Burchard’s “The Charge” and Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In”, I had my well overdue aha moment: Something had to change.  Correction: I had to change. My entire perspective had to change.  It was time for me to define my purpose and choose my future. I knew I had a purpose beyond being a mother; it just had been shoved aside when I became secondary to everything else. Reality was that I was not a good mother as long as I was unhealthily miserable and not fulfilling my own dream.

In order to fulfill that dream, MY American Dream, I had to invest in myself. I had to aim high, step it up and get that MBA I always wanted. I knew it would be the best investment I’d ever make.

The first step was to get unstuck. I made the decision to pursue an online MBA at the Jack Welch Management Institute and to take life in my own hands. My life then changed.  Doors opened up. Opportunities presented themselves one after the other.  I haven’t been running in place since. I have been moving forward.

The standards we set for women are different, the expectations of them are different, their potential is undermined everywhere you look.  Women are expected to be nice and nurturing, not ambitious and self-promoting. The irony is that women are their own worst enemies who ignore their inner calling, their interests and ambitions. We dismiss our own true potential and look down upon our “imperfections”.

We think it’s our job to take care of everybody else. But we are doing each other a major disservice by not challenging ourselves and each other to pursue a bigger purpose. As long as we allow ourselves to ignore our own need to grow, we will continue to be stuck.

My purpose, that big dream, is simply to make a difference in the lives of others. To empower those who need a kick in the butt. To inspire those who are stuck like I once was. I am here to propel you! Come on, move forward with me…

  • Is it time to rethink your future too?
  • Do you know what you will be doing ten years from now?
  • What about thirty years from now?
  • And like the many retirement plan provider commercials ask: “Do you think you can afford it (all by yourself)?”

The simple truth is that you can’t and you won’t. Your assumptions are flawed.

Shifting Demographics

Baby boomers are exiting the workplace and are now outnumbered by Millennials. These younger employees have developed skills from a young age that you may not master. They also crave diverse work experiences and change.

Ask Yourself:  Compared to them, are you more or less valuable to your employer? Will you still be relevant five years from now?

Leadership Gaps

With the departure of the baby boomers, there will be a lack of leaders in the corporate world. Succession planning and leadership development have been falling short.

Ask Yourself:  Do I have the skills to be a leader and inspire people to collaborate, build and innovate? Why couldn’t I become one?

Volatile Financial Market

An unstable market is the only certainty in today’s economy. Don’t expect that to change. Good intentions won’t pay for your retirement.

Ask Yourself:  At a more realistic return on investment, maybe 4%, of my current 401K plan (don’t forget you still owe taxes to Uncle Sam and annual fees), at what age can I retire? If I retire by the time I’m 65, will I be able to afford to take care of myself (housing, transportation, healthcare, food, etc.?) for twenty, thirty, forty years irrelevant of inflation?

Education Debt

College loans are the most expensive loans in this country. Employment is not guaranteed! We are sending our younger generations off into a future starting off with a massive debt on their backs. Yes, they will be motivated to take your job!

Ask Yourself:  Will I expect my children, burdened with student loans, to provide for me? Is that, i.e. the sum of student, home, car loans, healthcare insurance, 401K savings, childcare and elderly care, even financially feasible?

This is your wake-up call: Invest in yourself so you can take care of yourself.  Nobody else will.

Education is a key component to securing your future as a single parent.


Invest in your education and challenge yourself to become a leader in what you are passionate about.

Join me in rethinking our future.  Join me in challenging the definition of the American Dream.  Join me in empowering everyone to partake in this movement.  Join me today.

Tick Tock!

The Charge, Brendon Burchard
Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg
Why we have too few women leaders Sheryl Sandberg 12/2010
My Story – Jack Welch Management Institute Cathy Olieslaeger 11/2015
Women and Work. What’s Holding Women Back? The Economost, 1/23/15
Teach Girls Bravery, Not Perfection Reshma Saujani 2/2016
Millennials and Gen Xers feel the most stress about money 2/4/15
This Year, Millennials will overtake Baby Boomers 1/2015
The Coming Fight for Executive Talent Bloomberg BusinessWeek 11/25/09
Why the Boss Is Younger than You Are WSJ 7/7/15
How to Hang on to your High Potentials HBR 10/2011
Closing the Skills Gap: Innovative Talent Management Solutions For a Changing Workforce HBR 10/2014
Why Your 401(k) May Only Return 4% Money 9/2/14
The Death of Innovation The End of Growth Robert Gordon 2/2013
Prudential Commercial Ribbon Experiment
What will $1 be Worth in the Future?
Student Loan Interest Rates: Everything You Need to Know 11/2015
Dream YouTube Mateusz 7/2/13

As long as we allow ourselves to ignore our own need to grow, we will continue to be stuck.
Sign up to receive the latest articles in your email!

Share this Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *