13 Feb Starting a New Chapter: Fara Grim
It’s a new year, a new blog post, and authored by a new member of the WLA team!
“There is freedom waiting for you,
On the breezes of the sky,
And you ask, “What if I fall?”
Oh, but my darling,
What if you fly?”
― Erin Hanson
Each of us brings a set of unique personal experiences at every stage of transition in our lives: as a student, a recent graduate, a mid-career changer, or a retiree. As I embark on my new chapter, I’d like to share some of my life journey, what led me to the WLA, and my impressions in my first 90 days as the organization’s Programs and Partnerships Coordinator.
The financial industry appealed to me because it was the career path of my mother and grandmother, so when an opportunity came up for a high school intern to work in a bank vault operating the coin roller/counter machine after school, it was the perfect job for me. The chance to be a youth in a professional environment really opened my eyes to the opportunities around me. I was lucky to meet one of my mentors while working at that bank in Bend, Oregon. His mentorship continues to this day, three decades later. Mike saw my potential, and he took me under his guidance as he provided wisdom and insight into my life.
My job in banking was also my first experience with profit sharing and what would become my first monetary investment. To my high school eyes, I was thrilled with more money to spend on the latest fashion. However, the wise advice I received was to invest it in a retirement account. Throughout our lives, we are given choices. In this instance, it was to save or to spend.
Terms like compounding interest are often foreign to a high school intern making minimum wage.
I was 16, and retirement was nowhere on my list of things on which to spend my surprise bonus; however, looking back, I am glad I did. It has grown in the years since the late 1990s. I was surrounded at that time by financial minds who could educate me on how much more of a long-term reward investing would be over buying a new Guess, ESPRIT, or SWATCH wardrobe. Terms like compounding interest are often foreign to a high school intern making minimum wage. But, I learned, the smallest contributions make a difference, and each of us, with that knowledge, can change the lives of youth around us by investing time and sharing our wisdom.
I spent 20 years in the environmental, planning, and telecommunications industries. I was all of the things that society would consider a success; college graduate, homeowner, married, and then my attention was drawn to the importance of health and relationships.
“It’s okay to try something else…Go for it!”
Sometimes we can get lost in the paralysis of the decision. I knew I wanted to make a change, but was worried about whether I would be making the “right decision.” Kimberly Bouska, a WLA Board Member and a former coworker of mine, helped me to rebalance my life. Her advice was, “It’s okay to try something else. What is the worst thing that can happen? You return to the same cubical you are in now but with the experiences of a lifetime. Go for it!”
At the age of 40, I made a choice to begin a new chapter at mid-career called “Pre-Retirement.” I left steady employment to follow the dream of traveling. Making the decision to quit work, sell possessions and rent out our house in Portland was an amazing opportunity for my husband and I to inventory what really mattered the most to us. Many items we accumulated, treasured, and valued over the years did not pass our audit of “essential” possessions to hold on to. My mantra became, “Less stuff, More life.”
For two years, my husband and I traveled to 37 countries throughout Europe and Asia, house sitting and staying in Airbnbs. The sights we visited, experiences, growth, and friends we made were priceless. We documented those opportunities via our travel blog, www.candolatitude.com, a take on “can do attitude.”
My journey, in conjunction with the relationship I maintained through the years with Kim, brought me to my current chapter, as the new programs and partnership coordinator for the Women’s Leadership Alliance. In my new role, I have the opportunity to draw from my background in financial services, while focusing on developing programs and partnerships that help women to discover and to thrive on their own new path. A perfect integration of my experiences and my passion!
One of my favorite experiences in my first 90 days at the WLA has been the opportunity to get to know the mentees and mentors in our current cohort of our Mentor Leadership program. The program is uniquely tailored to empower mentees who are building their financial advising careers to explore their goals and priorities with a supportive and experienced female financial advisor.
A Change-Making Process for Each New Chapter
If you’re thinking of making a change, I’d like to share a process that helped me and may inspire you to R-E-A-C-H (further) and push your comfort zones to help you create the life you deserve.
REFLECT on your current chapter.
Where are you now? What’s working well for you? What would you like to change?
EVALUATE your aspirations.
Don’t be afraid to think BIG! Why should we allow the aspirations of our youth to diminish as we age?
ACCEPT that you will not be a fit for every position and person.
Each of us has our strengths and weaknesses. Get solid advice from trusted individuals who have your best interests in mind.
CHANGE is constant in life.
Be adaptable. Stay open to learning new things about yourself and others. It will expand your possibilities.
HELP others along the way—advocacy, encouragement, and mentorship.
Not only will this enrich your life, it will often lead to new discoveries, opportunities and relationships that will help you on your own path.
… one of the best ways to help share the WLA’s mission to attract, develop and engage women leaders is to tell my story and to tell the unique stories of other women about their different paths in life.
Success isn’t only a number on a balance sheet or degrees/certifications on your walls. It’s the choices we make, the people we encounter along the way and the memories that we take with us.
I am so grateful to be in this place, at this moment in my life. This opportunity at WLA is a melding of my social butterfly personality, advocacy for education, and my journey through this adventure we call life. And I believe one of the best ways to help share the WLA’s mission to attract, develop and engage women leaders is to tell my story and to tell the unique stories of other women about their different paths in life. Together, our stories can change the conversation about what is possible for ourselves, and for future generations of women.
By Fara Grim
WLA Programs and Partnerships Coordinator