Is it possible for working mums to have work-life balance?

working mums

In 2012, The Atlantic magazine published an article with the heading, “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All.”

The article was written by Anne-Marie Slaughter, a high-achieving career woman. She quit a powerful government position so that she could spend more time with her teenage boys.

While she didn’t quit full-time work, she got a lot of criticism from feminists who expected her to handle her professional and parenting obligations effortlessly.

Among other things, Slaughter noted that working mums who are employed need to stop fooling themselves about the ability to parent effectively while growing high-profile careers.

She was of the opinion that it’s possible to have this kind of balance when you run your own business or have control over your schedule.

Is it possible for working mums to have work-life balance?

Working mums all over the world struggle to balance between career growth, family, societal expectations, and their own self-care.

I know this for a fact because I’ve been a working mum for over 13 years. At first, I was in full-time employment. I then moved to my business, where I worked more hours than I used to when employed.

There was a 2-year stretch when I took time off to be a stay-at-home mum. This worked well for some time before I started itching to get back to work.

A combination of the experience of being able to spend more time with my children plus having had a failed business made me realize that:

  • I didn’t want to get back into full-time employment again.
  • I’m not meant to be a full-time stay-at-home mum.

It was with this in mind that I chose to be a work-from-home mum when I started my next business. This has struck a nice balance for me and I don’t see it changing in the near future.

I’ve been lucky to have experienced both sides of the spectrum. I’ve also been lucky to reach a point where I can choose to work from home. However, not many mothers who have careers or are in business are able to do that.

“Can I have it all?”

I was asked this question by someone who was seeking coaching a few years back. She was trying to make a decision between starting a business and taking up a high-profile job – her dream job.

The job was lucrative, but it would take her away from her family for large stretches of time. It also required a high level of commitment and focus.

More women have asked me the same question in different ways. All of them are high-achieving women who are either mums or aspiring to become mums soon.

It’s a question that was also asked by Kara (Supergirl) in the TV series Supergirl. She was working as an assistant to a very busy and highly successful business owner who was also a single mum.

One day, Kara asked her boss, Cat Stevens, whether it was possible to balance work and family and still get everything done. Cat’s response was simple:

“You can have it all, just not at once.”

That statement has stayed in my mind since I watched the program. It’s also a good kick off to this series as Selipha Kihagi and I delve deeply into the topic of working mums. We will look at:

  1. Common challenges faced by working mums.
  2. Negative effects on children of working mums.
  3. Positive effects on children with working mums.
  4. Challenges faced by single working mums.

This list is not exhaustive and we will update it as we get more information or requests from readers.

Your turn…

We’d love to write this series with you. Here’s what you can do to make this happen.

1. Connect with us

The topic of working mums has been covered widely for the Western world. Unfortunately, it’s not been adequately covered for the African woman, and more so for the Kenyan woman. We therefore welcome your questions, experiences, tips, and resources. The topics we write about will expand depending on the responses we get from readers. So talk to us in the Comments section of all the articles.

2. Share this series with other working mums

There are many women who are suffering as they struggle to meet unrealistic expectations from themselves and other people. Please share this series with them so that they too can get help or jump into the discussion.

3. Sign up for the email newsletter

If you don’t have time to come back and read blog posts each week, then sign up for the Create a New Dawn newsletter. As a subscriber, you will receive an update each week. This update includes a personal note from me, a preview of the week’s blog article, information on upcoming events and coaching programs, and periodic special offers just for newsletter subscribers.

This is it for today. Keep an eye out for the next article where Selipha will look at the top 5 challenges faced by working mums and how you can overcome them.

(Image Credit: Pexels)

Caroline Gikonyo works with high-achieving professional and business women who are stuck, overwhelmed, overworked, unhappy and unfulfilled. She helps her clients become leaders in their professions and business industries once they get unstuck, gain confidence and eliminate time wastage. Contact Caroline to request for a Clarity Coaching Session and find out how she can help you achieve better personal, professional, or business results.

Get out of your comfort zone

comfort zone

“Oh God, what was I thinking????”

This was me freaking out in June 2016. I had signed up for advanced coach training and the first class was already scaring me.

I was way behind on the assignments that I was supposed to complete before this class. So when I thought of the extra assignments for that week…total freak out!

The thought that I had to do this every week for 6 months caused more than one panic moment.

In the class that day, the mentor coach asked us to air out our concerns.

I had 2 concerns:

  • I’ve been so used to doing things my way for so long and now I’m scared of having to relearn everything anew. This was actually my #1 concern.
  • Where will I get the time to complete all this work?

It was much easier to stay in my comfort zone. At that moment, it actually felt as if I had jumped off a cliff without a parachute.

The mentor floored me when he responded, “Caroline, you’ve already left your comfort zone and jumped off the cliff by attending this first class. So there’s no going back.”

He also noted that if I really wanted to, I would create the time for the assignments, reading, and practice.

I had a ‘deer-in-the-headlights-moment’ there.

5 weeks later, I was smiling as I looked back at the things I thought would kill me.

Not only were my assignments on track, but I was ahead of the reading work and practicals.

And I had fun every step of the way.

Plus, the skills and experience I gained from that 6-month course made me a better coach. I also got the confidence to double my fees that year, with amazing results.

It’s time to leave your comfort zone

Getting out of your comfort zone is not easy. Unfortunately, remaining there is a sure way of letting your competition overtake you.

Remaining there is like deciding to simply be at the bottom of the barrel in your profession, career, company, industry…in all areas of life.

It means accepting mediocrity and being OK with things remaining as they are.

If you want to have massive success, you need to push yourself out of your comfort zone all the time until being out of it becomes your normal way of life.

This blog has enough material to help you expect change and growth. Using these resources will help you actively seek growth and commit to Constant and Never-Ending Improvement.

The journey is never easy, but…

One thing I see constantly in my life and coaching practice is people getting stuck. They get out of their comfort zone, but opt to go back  when the journey ahead becomes too hard.

So many times, people reach out to me for help and after we explore their goals and dreams, many end up saying, “I really want to achieve this goal, but I don’t think I have it in me to do it.”

Sometime ago, my son who had started a blog sought my advice because he wants to get back into blogging.

He started the blog and then realized that it required more work than he was ready to take on because he needed to write consistently.

So he started writing sporadically…and finally gave up.

In our conversation, he noted that he wants to write, but doesn’t know how to get back to the level of excitement he had when starting the blog.

My response to him was that his wish to write had to be bigger than his desire to give up. I also noted to him that nothing big was ever achieved easily.

To achieve success as a blogger, he has to overcome the discomfort of writing and just write. The more he’ll write, the more stories he’ll have and the easier it will get – this I know for a fact.

Are you willing to pay the price?

If you want to achieve something big or become someone great, you have to give up something in return. You also have to go beyond your comfort zone.

Your most desired goals and dreams will not achieve themselves. Neither will they materialize from the ether.

Life will not hand your goals over to you on a platter. You have to work at them. You have to give up something (or some things) in return. This is the price you pay for success.

The bigger the goals and dreams, the bigger the challenges you find along the way…
…and the further you have to move from your comfort zone.

A lot can happen when you take just one single step out. And this single step leads to the next one, and the next one, and the next one.

Before you know it, you’re either well on the way to achieving your goal or have already achieved it.

Are you willing to do that this week?

Your assignment for this week is very simple:

Believe in yourself and take a step of faith towards your most desired goal and this time next year, we’ll be talking a totally different story.

Should I stay or should I go?

abusive relationships

Talking about abusive relationships is not easy, especially when you’ve been through one yourself. And so this blog post was not an easy one to write. I’ve struggled with it over time and avoided making it public. I did send it to my newsletter readers once. However, I was unable to turn it into a blog post despite positive feedback from my readers.

I can only say that this is one of those articles that one battles with and the topic refuses to let go of you until it’s written. It’s an open and raw article where I share my experience of leaving an abusive marriage.

So here goes…

Warning: This is a very long post.

No peace of mind; no sleep

In August 2016, the media in Kenya was awash with the story of a woman whose husband cut off her hands. That story gave me sleepless nights and reminded me of my experience in an abusive marriage.

I was also out of sorts because people had asked me to share my story publicly but I shied away from it. Mwende’s story showed me that it was time to speak out.

In the end, I wrote a heartfelt email to my newsletter readers and shared my experience. Writing today’s article still feels raw, as it did a year ago. However, I know that refusing to write it will not make it go away. It will simply simmer in the back of mind and give me more sleepless nights!

I’ve given up the fight today, surrendered to the Great Voice within, and written the article. I’m writing it for peace of mind, if for nothing else.

This article contains my personal experience and it’s not meant to replace professional help. Seek relevant medical, financial, psychological and legal help if you’re in an abusive marriage or relationship. Do this before making decisions or taking actions that will impact your life.

Going down memory lane

The moment Jackline Mwende’s story hit the headlines, I was spun down memory lane and not in a nice way.

Mwende’s husband cut off her arms in August 2016. She was lucky because well wishers got together and helped her get new mechanical arms.

Reading the story and listening to Mwende was scary to say the least. I was saddened by some comments made in social media. There were some really vicious comments from people who wondered why Mwende stayed with such a man.

Having been in an abusive marriage, I know how hard it is for a woman to finally get the courage to leave. And I know that only a few are able to leave. I understood Mwende’s wish to try to make things work because I’ve done that, even when my life and the lives of my children were in danger.

The one thing that kept going through my mind as I read the follow-up stories was the statement, “There, but for the grace of God goes I.” I also thanked God for having given me the strength and courage to leave…because I was headed down a not-so-nice road.

More information has emerged about their marriage, but this should not take our attention from the fact that he was an abuser.

The reality of abuse in marriage and relationships

Women in abusive relationships struggle with the decision to stay or go. There are also others who are not in abusive relationships, but they know deep inside that this is not the relationship for them.

Worse still, are the women who feel that they cannot leave. Fear is a strong motivation to stay. Some don’t have the financial ability to take care of their children. Others are held back by their roles or status in society. And others are shells after being abused for so long.

I was one of these women and I still find it hard to talk about it because it feels as if ‘nimeanika’ my family.

Still, these are experiences that need to be shared. For one, sharing gives others the strength to take action. Sharing will also makes it harder for abuse to stay a secret. Abuse is powerful because the abused keep silent.

If this article is not relevant to you, I urge you to share it with other women. I’ve met women who sought my help because of something I wrote. Someone forwarded my newsletter or article to them requesting that they forward to their friends too.

The person who sent the email had no idea that they were sending it to someone who was struggling. I also know that people contact me because it’s easier to talk to a stranger about abuse than it is to talk to people who know you.

On the other hand, if you’re the one that benefits from this article, I’m doubly blessed for having shared this information with you.

Let's talk about abuse. Abuse is powerful because the abused keep silent. Click To Tweet

My personal experience

I had what looked like a great life and women envied me. I never had to work unless I wanted to. Things were very different away from the public eye – life was full of pain and tears.

For many years, my goals list had one goal at the top: to leave my husband. I set this goal every year and never achieved it. I tried many things to gain courage including walking on fire, but my fear was stronger than my desires.

Sometimes the wish to leave was stronger and I even moved out a couple of times and then came back. My home had become a prison that I was unable to escape from for long periods of time.

I still remember how hard it was to go back home after dropping my children in school each morning. Some days were especially hard and there were several times when I was a danger to other motorists because I would drive while crying. There were times had to stop and park the car by the roadside and cry until the inner pain eased enough for me to drive home – back to my prison.

Many days I’d stand at my bedroom window, looking outside while thinking, “This is my prison and I need to escape.”

Yet, I still stayed.

Looking back, I feel as if I was a well-trained animal that had no concept of leaving or breaking out. Kind of like the circus elephant that’s held in place by a small rope. And I think women in abusive relationships feel the same way. You’re only free as far as the mental leash your abuser holds can stretch.

A dark night of the soul and mind

The day I left my home was no different from the others.  No one told me to leave. I certainly didn’t plan for it to happen that day. I left after a sleepless night that was full of emotional abuse.

That night, suicide and homicide became viable options. At one point, I found myself cataloguing all the chemicals and medicines in the house, wondering which ones would work fast. At another point, I started thinking of ways that I could do away with my husband (yes, you read that right) because the world didn’t feel big enough for both of us.

I finally broke down around midnight and started chanting silently, “Holy Spirit, protect me. Holy Spirit, guide me.” This prayer had been my pillar and it kicked in when I needed it most.

After some time, I called my mum and cried for an hour, telling her that I couldn’t take it anymore. When I hang up, mum called my sis who called and helped me calm down. All this happened as my husband stood threateningly over me, but I no longer cared. I was ready to die and didn’t give a damn anymore.

In the morning, I lied to my husband that I had physical coaching sessions. I felt the need to leave the house for a few hours and breathe. As I was leaving, he took my keys and told me that from now on I’d have to call him to come open the door for me anytime I left home.

That was the proverbial straw that broke this camel’s back! I mean, why bother when I no longer have a home to go back to?

The Voice that changed it all

I cried all the way to Prestige Plaza on Ngong Road (Nairobi) while telling God, “This has to end. You have to give me a solution because I can’t take it anymore!”  I sat in the food court at the plaza for 2 hours with a blank mind.

Then came a voice in my head that asked, “What are you going back for?”

It was such a clear question that I looked at the chair next to me because I thought someone had slipped there while I was blank.

The question was repeated a second and a third time.

That was it!

I call this a Divine Intervention because I got a sense of courage and inner power that day that has never left me.

I called my parents to ask whether I could move back home for a month or two and then called my sisters and told them that I was done. The next step involved picking my children from school and getting them a few pairs of clothes and underwear. My last stop for the day was my parents’ place, where I found my mum and dad very worried and anxious.

My last call was to my best friend. She only had 2 questions: “Are you safe?” and “What have you carried from your house?” When I told her that I had carried nothing except my work stuff, she responded me that I was now ready to leave.

In an abusive relationship, you're only free as far as the mental leash your abuser holds can stretch. Click To Tweet

The journey to recovery

I didn’t know how tired I was until I got to my parents’ home.  I felt safe and secure – like a baby. This feeling was so powerful that I slept for over 12 hours.

Prior to that, I used to sleep 3 hours a night because of verbal abuse from my husband. It’s also hard to sleep well when you’re told “Toka uende zako.” daily, followed by threats of what will happen if I do leave.

That was on 1st July 2014 and I have not looked back since then. The journey to emotional, psychological and financial recovery has been challenging, but the courage and peace that I got on that day has remained.

Today, I sleep peacefully no matter the challenges that are facing me the next day. My children are thriving and my business, which I had to rebuild from scratch, is growing.

When I walked out of my home, I left everything that I once thought was important. I don’t have those things, but I have never felt happier and more fulfilled. Best of all, I know that the future is determined by my decisions and I am now in a place to achieve my other goals.

Should you stay or go?

When thinking of whether to stay or go, other questions come to mind. These include:

  • How do you decide whether to leave or stay?
  • What factors should influence your decision?
  • Is leaving always the right thing to do?
  • What will other people think or say about you when you leave?
  • If you decide to leave, then how do you do it without jeopardizing your life, relationships, and/or finances?
  • How safe will you be when you leave? (This is a strong motivator to stay for those who have been threatened with dire consequences should they leave – it certainly made me stay…).

I cannot answer these questions for you and I will not claim to know what is right from what is wrong. All I know is that it’s almost impossible to leave if you allow the questions above to hold you back.

I also know that abuse progresses with time until you become a shallow version of who you were. You die on the inside and the shell just does things on autopilot. At that point, the abuser will have won.

Here’s some help for you

This is not a journey that you can walk alone. You need the help of other people, be it in books, programs or physical help.

Below are some resources that helped me explore and make a decision that worked for me. None of these resources tell you what to do, they simply help you evaluate your situation and make objective decisions.

1. Books to help you move forward

This book was written by David Steele of the Relationship Coaching Institute (RCI). I was lucky to get this information in a teleclass and a free book. I even went as far as becoming a relationship coach for one year. Helping other women mend or get the courage to leave abusive relationships helped me heal too.

This book is a powerful resource if you want to help someone you care about make an impartial decision. Also, check out RCIs resources for singles and married couples.


If finances are tight after you’ve left, get a copy of The Successful Single Mom by Honoree Corder. This is an amazing resource for all women and not just single mums.

The book gives you an outline of what you need to do to get yourself back on track. It walks you through a healing and recovery process, which is a bonus.

You can also use the book in a group together with other single mums who are working on recovering their lives and finances.


Also, go to and search for books titled “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” (without the quotation marks). Read the introductions and reviews of a few books and then pick 2-3 that speak to you.

2. Work with a professional e.g. therapist, counsellor, relationship or life coach.

Don’t pick a professional blindly. Ask people for advice and look from someone who listens and validates you. Be wary of professionals who try to make you think or act in a certain way – you don’t need that at this point.

If you cannot find someone, or don’t want to go public, then contact me. I’ll send you contacts of therapists whom I refer people to. At the moment, I only know good therapists in Nairobi and welcome recommendations for other towns too.

What if you don’t feel ready for therapy or have tried therapy and it didn’t work for you? If this is you, then check out the Break Free program.  I created the program based on my personal experience, my experience coaching women, and training in NLP (Neuro-Linguistics Programming) and coaching.

NLP is a very powerful process that will give you confidence, courage and control over your life. With NLP, you move from feeling disempowered to being totally empowered in a very short time.

Working with a life coach is a powerful and life-changing experience. My life coach Shilpa Shah helped me heal emotional scars I didn’t even know I had. She didn’t address my marriage directly, but she helped me realize that I was not a victim. Through working with her, I became courageous enough to take the last step to freedom.

In one of my sessions with Shilpa, I visualized myself driving alone to Mombasa. That freaked me out because I feared long-distance driving. I also didn’t see myself free enough to leave my marriage and move to another town. Shockingly, I did exactly that. Events unfolded such that I drove all the way to Mombasa alone on 1st December 2014.

That, however, is a story for another day.

Abuse progresses with time until you become a shallow version of who you once were. Click To Tweet

3. Report the abuse

This is critical whether you decide to stay or go. One thing that stopped the death threats in my case was when I made a report to the police.

I know many women have not had a great experience with police. I’ve been to police stations where the policemen manning the front desk made a great show of telling me how stupid I was. Some laughed outright. Others made me walk through my story and never recorded it in the O/B book. And others teased me saying that I was not a good wife.

One policeman actually told me that my marriage was doomed from the start due to tribal differences (I’m a Kikuyu who was married to a Luo). In all our years together, even through fights and drama, tribe was never an issue in my family. We had even reached a point of agreement not to vote because our votes would probably cancel each other.

The police at Langata Police Station in Nairobi helped me out twice. They also told me that all police stations have at least one police woman who is trained in gender violence. This is the person you need to ask for when you go to a police station.

Over the years, I had tried getting help from other places including church, going to Cradle, FIDA, the Children’s Court and hiring a lawyer. None of these helped and the lawyer took off with my money. Running around from one place to another left me bitter.  So I now had another level of anger and disappointment to work through!!!

I’m not saying that these institutions don’t work. What I’m saying is that it might be better to make the report and then focus on getting your inner strength before taking further action.

4. Create a circle of support

Family and friends have been my biggest sources of help. I didn’t set out to create the circle, and I have seen it’s amazing strength.

My parents have stood by me as I carved a new life. In the process of healing, I also made peace with my dad, whom I never used to connect with. He came through and has supported me in a silent way with questions like “Are you OK?” and “What help do you need from us?” These are simple but powerful ways for an elderly African man to show his support without proclaiming it out loud.

I’m an introvert and tend to go into a shell when I’m hurting. My sisters bulldoze their way into that shell. They never allow me to wallow in there for long. They’ve been my rocks emotionally, psychologically, and financially. I know my experience took a toll on them, but they’ve never wavered in making sure I’m OK.

My elder brother and brothers-in-law came through in unexpected ways by connecting directly with my sons. This provided my sons with a safe place to discuss male issues without me having to know about it (phew!).

I’ve also been blessed with friends who were there to talk to at any time. Sometimes there’s stuff that’s too deep to share with your family. Your soul sisters can help you work through such stuff.

One thing that’s common is that all these people refused to allow me to go into depression. I know for sure I would not be writing this article today were it not for my circle.

I urge you to create a circle if you’re in an abusive relationship. You need people who will support you now and in the future, no matter the decisions you make.

Your future is determined by your decisions. Click To Tweet

5. Read or listen to something empowering each day

I read something that makes me feel good each day. I also listen to music, audiobooks, or podcasts. There’s a lot of information on the internet so check around and find someone who uplifts you and use their books, audios, or videos.

To boost your morale further, create a playlist of music that lifts your heart and makes you feel powerful and strong. Listen to this playlist daily. Save it on your phone, burn audio CDs to listen to in your car, and save the playlist on your computer. Make friends with the freedom offered in the songs.

Whatever your religion, there are texts that will give you a stronger spiritual foundation. The Bible is my main source of inspiration, motivation and learning. I use the Jesus Calling Devotional Bible. It’s a King James Version with devotions from Sara Young. I bought myself this Bible as a birthday present on 20th January 2014. Little did I know that it was going to change my life for years to come!

One of the things a woman loses when she’s in an abusive relationship is the ability to feel in control of her life. These simple touchstones – being able to make something just for yourself – are a way of starting to reclaim your strength and power.

A new life with a new perspective

If you’ve read this far, then this is an issue that burns your heart. And it’s now time for me drop a bombshell. For all that I was in an abusive marriage, I’m aware that there is a role I played in allowing the abuse to continue.

There was also a time when I got so courageous that I became an emotional abuser to my husband and turned the tables for some time. Of course that didn’t last long, but it felt so good while it lasted! It’s very easy to cross the line and once you cross it, it will be hard for you to go back.

If you’re in an abusive relationship, you need to take responsibility for the 50% part of the mess that belongs to you. Also, know that you always have options in life. You have chosen the option you’re living now or helped make it a stronger reality for you. Not making a choice either way is actually making a choice for things to stay the same or get worse.

Now, I’ve met people who expect me to be bitter and angry with my husband. Some also expect me to be anti-marriage and relationships.

I smile when I meet such people because healing and forgiveness have played a huge role in my life. I’ve forgiven and healed from the inside out, which has made me happier and stronger.

Finally, I still believe in love and marriage. I also believe that:

  • Being in empowering relationships helps us find our best selves.
  • It’s possible for abusers to recover and become great partners (I’ve seen this happen in some relationships).
  • We can turn the tide that is sweeping our country and heal both men and women.

Can you turn around an abusive relationship?

I get requests for help from women who are in abusive relationships. They hear my story and want me to help them leave. Sadly, this is not a step that anyone can help you with.

Even the professionals you seek will only help you to a certain point. There is a point where only you can go. This is a point where only you can make the decisions and take the necessary actions.

The only time I tell someone to leave their marriage is when they and/or the children are in danger. Other times, I ask 3 questions:

  • Do you respect your husband?
  • If all things were sorted out, would you still want to stay married to him?

If the person answers “Yes” to these two questions, I then ask:

  • Are you willing to work on your marriage for the next 6-12 months, even if your husband doesn’t do anything or change?

These are the questions I would want to leave you with today if you are in a relationship or marriage that is not to your liking.

I believe that a woman can live with a man if she respects him. Once respect flies out of the door, then your relationship is doomed.

And, if a woman believes she’s safe and is willing to work on herself and her marriage, then the marriage has a very high hope of recovery.

It takes lots of love, courage, patience and persistence to stay and heal your relationship from within. The best thing is that, if you do this and things don’t work out, you can leave knowing that you gave it your all.

Negativity has never created a good life for anyone, so why indulge in it? Click To Tweet

What next?

My new way forward

I strongly believe in the power of forgiveness. I’ve seen the best and worst aspects of myself and my husband. I lived through it and survived it.

I no longer hate him and have created an environment where my children respect their dad. They have a relationship and communicate directly with him. We, the parents, may have separated, but will forever be bound by the children. It doesn’t matter how their dad acts or what he says about me. What matters is my behaviour and how I handle myself.

That is why you will not find me trolling in hate groups. I also don’t spend time with people want to talk ill of their spouses. Negativity has never created a good life for anyone, so why indulge in it?

Now, I’m not a saint. I do have my moments and get angry – especially when finances are tight. It’s also lonely being a single mum. Throw in 2 teenage sons and you have a recipe for so many disasters!

One thing that I pray for is to be able to create a place where women and children can heal from abuse and get back on their feet. I want to have a place where a woman feels safe. A place where any woman is able to get the emotional, psychological, physical, financial and professional help she needs before she can start over as a single mum.

Finally, I dream of Kenya turning into an environment that does not support abuse in any form. I want to be part of the change process in our country and help women rediscover who they are. And once they do this, they can create new lives, new relationships, and have a new way of looking at marriage and relationships.

Your way forward

No woman has to stay in an abusive relationship. The longer you stay, the harder it is to leave. Constant exposure to abuse will drain you and leave you completely at the mercy of the abuser. Here are some resources to help you move forward if you’re ready to make changes.

  • If you’re in an abusive relationship

Reach out to someone you trust and whom you know will hold your information in confidence. If you have no one like that in your life, contact me and let’s think things through together. Also, check out the resources and assessments on the Couple for Life website (it’s owned by the Relationship Coaching Institute). If you’re struggling to make a decision, then seek professional help. If your relationship is physically abusive and you and/or your children are in danger, find a way of leaving.

  • If you suspect a friend or relative is in an abusive relationship

Reach out to them softly and be their cushion. They will probably deny it if you ask them outright, but will open up when you persist. I thank God for my sisters, mum, and friends who never gave up on me! When you reach out, take care not to get sucked into their drama. Get a copy of David Steele’s book Should I Stay Or Should I Go to help you stay objective even as you help them.

  • Share this article with other women

Abuse happens to the most unlikely people and you never know who you could be helping. While it’s not easy knowing that this article will be read widely, I do know that many women will benefit from knowing that they are not alone or from the resources given here.

  • Do you want to regain your confidence?

Are you interested in learning strategies that will help you gain confidence and have the courage to take control of your life? Check out the Break Free program. This program will help you get unstuck and start living your dream life. You can attend the preview teleclass or live workshop to get a feel of it before enrolling in the main program. Feel free to invite other women for the teleclass, workshop or group program.

Your turn…

This article is my open letter to you, one that forced its way into being. Writing it was both scary and somewhat cathartic. I’d love to hear what you think.

Please share your thoughts, comments, experiences and any more tips or resources in the Comments below.


Caroline Gikonyo works with high-achieving professional and business women who are stuck, overwhelmed, overworked, unhappy and unfulfilled. She helps her clients become leaders in their professions and business industries once they get unstuck, gain confidence and eliminate time wastage. You can contact Caroline to request for a Strategy Session and find out how she can help you achieve better personal, professional, or business results.

Do you have to quit your job to start a business?

start a business

In January 2017, I posted an abbreviated version of this article in a Facebook group that I was a part of. While I later left the group, the amazing response to my post showed me that I was onto something. One of the results of that post was that I polished up my book 12 Weeks to Startup and created a Facebook group for the book.

Do you have to start a business to earn extra income?

I’ve been following Facebook conversations on business startup with interest. It almost seems as if the only way for people to make more money is to go into business. I think this is a wrong mentality because business is not for everyone.

I’ve been in business since 2007 and have helped people start businesses since 2011. I do know that the statistics on business startup are true. More than 80% of startups fail within the first year. And a large number of the 20% that go into the 2nd year fail before their 3rd year. My first business was one of the statistics.

Being in business is great. However, it requires a different mindset from being an employee. This is a shift most employees are not able to make fast, and it leads to financial loss.

If you’re in employment and want to increase your income, the fastest way to do so is not to start a business. You’re better off selling something that you’re already good at or that’s close to what you’re doing right now. Doctors and nurses do this easily when they go on locum.

What you’re selling could be a skill, talent, knowledge or experience. If you manage your time effectively, you can do this in your part time and work 10-12 hours a week. It’s not yet a business, but more of an extra stream of income.

Examples of extra streams of income

Below are ways in which you can earn extra money, working 10-12 hours a week.


You can help business owners with their accounts. If you have 4 clients and each pays you 10k a month, that’s a cool 40k a month extra with only transport and airtime as expenses. You give each client 3 hours a week and update their accounts within that time. You can also do their government submissions for them at an extra fee.

Graphic designer

Go online and create a Fiverr account and start offering design services. The income is small to start with but it grows when you get a reputation for prompt and accurate delivery. With time, you’ll charge more and bundle up services. Fiverr is a great place for any professional who can work online.


If people are always coming to you for advice in the evenings or weekends, start charging them. You can start with as little as 500/- per hour and increase your fees with time. I gave this idea to a lady who had been retrenched in her 50s. Today, she’s dictating her fees and getting invited to speak to schools and women’s groups for at least 10k per talk. If this income stream interests you, then contact me and I’ll help you create talks and workshop packages.


Start taking in transcription work. You could go online and sign up for work or talk to speakers, pastors, and trainers to help them transcribe their work. You can also sign up as an online virtual assistant and work 2 hours a day.

Walter Akolo’s blog gives tips and resources for online work with specific emphasis on writing. Sheeroh Kiarie’s has all you need to know about online transcription work. You can find other online mentors from Walter and Sheeroh’s blogs.

People are always complimenting you on how well you dress

Start giving talks on image and dressing. You can call your friends together to start with, charge a small fee that covers refreshments and gives you something extra. Have a blast for 2-3 hours in your living room teaching them what you know.

This can also work if people love the way your home looks and you can start charging for your advice. You’ll enjoy giving advice more when people are paying you for it!

You go to the market each weekend

Many women don’t like going to the market and would appreciate having bulk shopping done for them. Here’s how you can get started:

  • Inform your neighbours that you can shop for them on weekends.
  • Strike a deal with the market vendors you normally buy from.
  • Have your customers send you their shopping lists by Thursday.
  • Shop and deliver on Saturday.
  • Collect cash and you have some extra money that week. Carefully select your customers so that you don’t deliver without being paid.
  • You could also create a list with specific items and costs per week and send it to your customers. They make their orders and send you 50% deposit by Friday so that you have the money to shop with on Saturday.
  • Collect the balance on delivery and never accept to be paid ‘later’.

If you do this diligently, with time, the extra income will cover your household shopping and give you something extra.

There’s a young lady in my neighbourhood who does this. I’m one of her customers and she drops my veggies and fruits early in the morning once a week. By 9:00am, she’s shopped, made her money, freshened up and gone for her other shughulis.


If you’re always in the library, why not put up posters offering to do research for people in your free time? Employed Masters students who attend evening classes make great clients because a lot of them don’t have time for research. PhD students also value having research assistants who are accessible. Also, check out Walter’s blog for information about online academic writing.

English teacher

Find a community of expatriates from non-English speaking countries and offer to teach them and/or their children English in the evenings or weekends. I did this when in university and I’m not even an English major.

People always love hanging around you because you’re funny

This is a very lucrative income stream. Start telling people that you can MC at weddings and parties. You can do the same if you want to get into bridal and baby shower talks. Humour is always in high demand. Combine it with a bit of teaching and you’ll have a killer side income.

You love making simple crafts

Make some samples and give them away strategically to people who have large networks. Tell them that you now do this as an extra income stream and that you’d appreciate referrals. Also set up a Facebook Page and add a Shop section. Create some crafts, take amazing photos of them, post in your shop and on market groups on Facebook and sell…


These are just some ideas that you can use to create extra income without necessarily getting into business. You simply leverage your extra time to make money.

It’s also an easy way to test whether your business idea will work or not. You start it as an extra income stream without having to put in all the paper-work and hassle that a business requires. You then turn it into a business once it can cover its own bills and pay you a good income.

So, if you’re struggling to come up with something that can make you money, starting a business right up is not the only way to go. You can start with an extra income stream and then decide whether you want to go into business or not.

Decide what you want, set your goals and turn something that you already do or a skill or talent you have into money.

(Image credit: Unsplash)


Caroline Gikonyo works with high-achieving professional and business women who are stuck, overwhelmed, overworked, unhappy and unfulfilled. She helps her clients become leaders in their professions and business industries once they get unstuck and eliminate time wastage. You can contact Caroline to request for a Strategy Session and find out how she can help you achieve better personal, professional, or business results.

start a business

Still want to start a business after reading this article? Here’s how I can help. Get a copy of my eBook 12 Weeks to Startup and find out how you can start your business part-time. This self-coaching manual covers the same system I use with my clients.

6 times when it’s OK to get out of employment without a plan

get out of employment

It’s happened gradually over time and you’ve finally accepted that you really hate your job. Over the years, you’ve toyed with the decision to get out of employment. You haven’t done anything about it…yet.

Every time you meet someone who’s managed to get out of employment, you wonder why you’re unable to do the same. Maybe you’ve even explored different business ideas you can start. Anything is better than coming back to this job daily!

What you know now is that you have to decide soon because going to the office is making you sick – literally.

Does this sound like you?

Every month, I meet people who’re tired of being employed. I also meet others who just upped and quit their jobs. They were so tired that it was better to be jobless. Unfortunately, many people stay in jobs that are killing them slowly.

Some got the courage to quit their jobs but soon found themselves back in the rat race. Being broke and having to depend on your family or spouse financially is a real eye-opener!.

This article is for you if you’re debating whether it’s time to get out of employment. You’re tired of working hard for other people and being unappreciated. You’re also tired of being sick and have decided that no job is worth your mental, physical or emotional health.

Note: The information in this article is not meant to replace medical or psychological treatment. Consult a doctor or therapist before making decisions that will affect your health in any way.

5 times when it’s OK to quit your job without a plan

1. You’re in a very toxic environment

You not only hate your job, but your working environment is very toxic. You work long hours without compensation or time off. Bosses lord over everyone and degrade or put down people. In the same way, employees can’t trust each other and there’s a lot of backstabbing.

You could also be working for an organization that keeps people on toes by threatening them with retrenchment or lay offs. Or maybe there’s always a carrot that’s dangled in front of you and it keeps moving just when you’re about to hit your targets. It feels as if you can’t win no matter how hard you try.

It’s reached a point where you hate Mondays and dread going to work.

Not many people get a chance to fight back or blow the whistle at organizations that treat employees like crap. Many just leave quietly or get forced out by the bullies.

The few that do blow the whistle or fight back give a very revealing behind-the-scenes look. This is what Susan Fowler did when she blew the whistle on gender discrimination at Uber.

If you’re in a toxic environment, the only way out is to leave. You may not have a new job to go to as Susan did, but you will be better off mentally and emotionally. You can look for a job in an organization that cares for its employees’ welfare once you’re out of your current toxic environment.

Related article: 8 Toxic Relationships You Need to Detox From

2. Your job is making you sick

I’ve met people who pass by the hospital on Monday mornings because they get terrible headaches when they think of going to work.

Work-related depression is also making inroads in Kenya and we now have functional depressed people, if there’s such a term. These are people who are clinically depressed. Even so, they continue with normal activities and have mastered how to hide the depression from family, friends and colleagues.

Other signs of work-related illness include being tired all the time, sleep deprivation and having many visits to the doctor for illnesses that you never had before. You’re in a never-ending roller-coaster. You don’t know how to get out of it and your body is responding by forcing you to slow down or stop.

Many people stay in jobs that are killing them slowly. Are you one of them? Click To Tweet

3. Your organization is talking of retrenchments and layoffs

It’s never a good sign when an organization hires external consultants to evaluate the company’s efficiency. It’s even worse when your department or job is in the limelight, and the consultant is asking a lot of questions about exactly what you do there.

It doesn’t take a genius to understand that your job is on the line when the company suddenly announces a retrenchment exercise and offers a severance package for volunteers.

If this happens in your organization and you’re thinking of leaving, then consider it a blessing in disguise. Take the severance package and leave. At least, you’ll have some money to buffer you as you look for another job or start your business.

You may want to gamble and see if your job will be among those that are kept. But, chances are that you could end up losing both your job and the severance package. So if you’re ready to leave, take the package and leave.

4. You’ve outgrown your job and/or organization

Not all people quit because they hate their jobs or employers. Sometimes, it’s simply that you no longer suit this job or organization anymore. This may have been your dream job when starting out, but you’ve gone as far as you can or want to.

You’ll know that it’s time to leave when going to work no longer fills you with excitement. Your days are filled with nothing more than moving through the day so that you can earn a salary at the end of the month.

This is what I’ve heard from a number of clients who outgrew their jobs and didn’t realize it:

  • “It’s just the same. Nothing ever changes.” – in response to the question “How have you been?”.
  • “I could do this job with my eyes closed. I’m so bored…”
  • “I need to recharge my job otherwise I could kill myself and somebody” – said jokingly but you get the hint about how bad things are.
  • “I really hate Mondays. There’s nothing in that job or company that excites me anymore. I really hate going to work.”
  • “I’m really unhappy. I have this great job with amazing perks and I’m not happy.”
  • “No one understands me when I tell them that my job is killing me.”

If you love your job, work for an amazing organization, have risen up the ladder and gone as far as you can go, but you’re very unhappy, these a signs that it’s time to consider moving on.

Sometimes, the best medicine in such a case is to quit and then map your way forward as opposed to taking time to look for the perfect place to move on to.

Of course, quitting doesn’t mean that you wake up and just leave. Take a calculated risk and prepare yourself emotionally and financially. Quit when you feel that the time has come for you to leave. Also, leave when you’re ahead of the game and you’re still on good terms with everyone, especially management.

Quitting a great position and company is a risk. However, if you force yourself to stay, chances are high that you will start sabotaging yourself subconsciously and lose the strides you’ve gained in that organization.

Related article: 5 Unexpected Results When You Quit Your Job

5. You’re in the wrong job or career

This one’s a bit tricky than the others. You’ve spent many years growing your professional credentials and experience in this career. Unfortunately, this is not your dream career or job.

The biggest challenge here is the fact that you’ll be leaving a position where you’ve amassed credibility and success, and moving into one where you’re a nobody. That’s a huge beating for the ego because we tend to get attached to our positions, titles and perks.

If you’re ready to move into your dream job or career and cannot stand working in this one anymore, then I recommend you start by beefing up your savings before quitting. Also, start exploring your dream career in your free time.

Here are some things to do:

  • Sign up for college classes: This is easy to do even if you’re busy in your job as you can take online classes. You’ll also find that having this new focus on your passion will motivate you in your current job. You can also read books or attend talks if you can’t afford to sign up for classes now.
  • Hang out with people in your dream job, career or business: Start attending networking events where you meet people who are where you want to be. This is great for networking purposes and to make new friends and research your passion.
  • Evaluate your current job or career: Find out what you like and don’t like about your job or career. This will help you map out the way forward after quitting.
  • Give yourself a time limit: It’s easy to lure yourself back into thinking about the perks that lose when you quit your job. However, this motivation doesn’t last long. Set a date for quitting and then quit your job when that date reaches. Not having a job may be all you’ll need to push you into following your dream.

6. You have a financial cushion

It’s easier to quit your job without a fallback plan when you have enough money to take care of your expenses for at least 12 months. This financial cushion will give you a buffer of time within which you can explore your future without pressure.

This cushion should have enough money to pay for:

  1. Rent/mortgage and utilities.
  2. Groceries and supplies.
  3. School fees (if you or your children are still in school).
  4. Medical expenses.
  5. Seasonal expenses such as clothing.
  6. Automobile expenses (fuel, repairs, insurance, etc).
  7. Other insurance policies (life, home, pension, etc).
  8. Basic entertainment (nothing extravagant).
  9. Any loan repayments or credit card bills you have.
  10. Unexpected emergencies.

This list is not exhaustive. Use it as a guide to calculate whether your nest egg is enough to cover 12 months without income.


Quitting your job without having another one or a business lined up is generally seen as professional suicide. It also has the potential to ruin your financial future if you can’t take care of your personal expenses in the interim.

On the other hand, there are instances when it makes more sense to quit even if you don’t know what you’re going to do next. Every person’s situation deserves a unique solution and only you can decide whether it’s the right time to quit or not.

No matter your reasons for leaving, don’t burn all your bridges with your ex-employer. Take the high road and leave on a positive note even if the organization, colleagues or bosses are toxic.

Your turn…

Is it OK or irresponsible to get out of employment without a fallback plan? Let’s hear from you in the Comments.

(Image credit: Stuart Miles at Free Digital Photos)


Caroline Gikonyo works with high-achieving professional and business women who are stuck, overwhelmed, overworked, unhappy and unfulfilled. She helps her clients become leaders in their professions and business industries once they get unstuck, gain confidence and eliminate time wastage. You can contact Caroline to request for a Strategy Session and find out how she can help you achieve better personal, professional, or business results.