We had the good fortune of connecting with Dana LaRieal Morales and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dana LaRieal, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
Work-life balance is something that every person needs to get a handle on whether full-time or part-time in their business because the truth is you are one person and burning the candle on both ends is going to take its toll no matter who you are or how successful you are. As a project manager, I am used to handling things. Making sure everyone is taken care of and not worrying about myself in the process. Over time, I found that this was taking a toll on my physical and mental wellbeing. We often don’t even realize it but it’s a bad precedent to take, trying to be everything to everybody all the time. I realized I had to take the rules of first responders to heart, if I take my oxygen mask off, I can’t help anyone. I must make sure I have the oxygen I need so I can do what needs to be done. So in my life, the oxygen equated to saying no sometimes, to disappointing my daughter sometimes, to designating times when I did specific things, creating routines for my day, my business and my life. There were times this meant disappointing friends and family and other times it meant being honest with my husband, my boss, clients or co-workers. Ultimately, I found many of the pressures I was feeling were self-imposed. I was putting them on myself. People around me really didn’t notice or care about how I did what I did as long as I got it done. Asking key questions became an important part of my process of gaining a work-life balance. When do you need this completed, how are WE going to make this happen because I can’t do it alone, here is where I’m struggling, how can we do this together, what can I do to make this easier? Communication and work-life balance go hand in hand. Just like you need balance, so do your spouse, your co-workers, your clients, your employees, your children (whether they know this or not). Being real with why you can’t take your kid to the mall, or why you can’t play right now is important, but it is equally as important to do the same with those in your work or entrepreneurial life. You must take the pulse of your schedule to ensure you aren’t leaning more to one side than another. The truth is it is like a quad-seat teeter-totter. You are making choices and rotating the needs around so no one area is getting the most of your time and this is extremely important to maintain balance. I learned putting myself last doesn’t work just like putting my children first or my career first doesn’t always work either. There are going to be times when your balance gets a little off, but ultimately being able to identify, communicate and rectify this is extremely important to your overall ability to maintain true happiness and work-life balance. On a final note, I will say that your overall work and life goals play a big role in your ability to maintain balance, so your overall actions need to be in alignment with those goals or you need to make some changes. That being said, yes you can have everything you want in both business and life, you just have to know it takes work and focus on balance and integration to do so.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am a certified project manager for a corporate law firm by day and a side-hustling entrepreneur by night. What makes my situation unique is that I am very happy with my current arrangement and don’t have one foot out the door of my career. I love what I do in both my professional and entrepreneurial worlds, and I don’t believe a person has to choose one or the other. In my situation, the two are fabulous compliments to each other and allow me to do what I love to do. I however know that is not everyone’s situation. My company, The Happiness Bucket, serves solopreneurs and side-hustling professionals by teaching them how to develop, implement and streamline processes in both their business and personal lives for better work-life balance and integration. I learned that so many of us are struggling unnecessarily and I wanted to help ease the stress and frustration of entrepreneurial life. Although my focus is on side-hustlers, my clients range from full-time entrepreneurs to professionals looking to rebrand themselves. I also get a few retirees looking to organize for their newfound hobbies or secondary careers. I ultimately niched down on side-hustling entrepreneurs, because I found there was a huge gap in the industry and in various teachings because most are focused on full-time entrepreneurs and/or those who have tons of expendable money and time at their disposal. Most side-hustlers are balancing both their full-time jobs and their families alongside their entrepreneurial dreams. I wanted to teach them that they don’t have to go into debt to start their business. Most should be bootstrapping their business until it can maintain itself. I want to teach them how to create processes so they don’t spend unnecessary money and so they can right-size their business for where they are now, but be able to easily level up when necessary. I know all about this because I do this myself so who better to teach this but someone who has and does deal with this on a regular basis. I know the struggles of the corporate world, I also keep a pulse on the industry and see how corporate and small business differ and where they are similar. I also see the gaps many small businesses have who are trying to play in the corporate arena. I want to help bridge that gap and teach others how to address these issues in their businesses without going broke and while maintaining a healthy work-life balance. As far as my path to where I am today, it was on somewhat of what I’d like to call a curve. I didn’t set out to be a project manager or a holistic process strategist, in fact my undergraduate degree is in Sociology with a concentration in criminal justice and my masters degrees is in Public Administration. That being said, I feel I am right where I am supposed to be. There were so many lessons along the way of my journey that I was able to learn from and build upon that made me who I am today. Those lessons came with many frustrations and tears, but they also came with excitement and joy too. What helped me weather the storms was my determination to succeed. Early on I really was lost, but being a person of faith, I really leaned on God for an understanding of what I was supposed to be doing with my life. God ordered my steps and as difficult as it was, I actually listened and obeyed. After it worked, I continued to do it in my life, not always understanding the outcomes but believing that is what I was supposed to be doing at the time. I had times when I tried to go a different way and do what I thought was best even when I was being lead to do something else because it didn’t make sense to me at the time, but low and behold…I would always end up right back to the thing I was fighting and it would work out every time. Ultimately, as far as my brand and what I want people to know is that I believe in being my authentic self. What you see is what you get. I am extremely professional, but there aren’t a lot of bells and whistles to me or The Happiness Bucket. I don’t want my clients to be scared to share their most intimate fears with me, being vulnerable is hard and admitting you need help is hard. I’m here not to focus on the past but to help you develop your future. To help you achieve the success that is mapped out for your life and your business. One of the things I share with my audience is that you have to develop systems that are uniquely yours, meaning it doesn’t have to make sense to anyone else but you and your environment. That is what we work together to develop and we laugh and have fun in the process. I am focused on building a community here that grows and supports each other along the way. I hope that’s what all my clients and potential clients feel as they come in contact with me and The Happiness Bucket.Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Oooh ok so my best friend is visiting and I’m going to show them the best time ever?!?!? Ok well, you asked for it lol I’m showing how low-key I truly am…not a bunch we’d be dying to do other than chill, laugh, eat and talk and catch up, but you asked for it. We’d eat at boom bozz, pancake pantry, fat mo’s, Mexican food, Slim and Husky’s, Connors, Chic fil a, my dad’s home cooking, my hubby’s home cooking, my home cooking. We’d drink some stella rosa wine and sweet tea while we chill. We’d go out on the boat, go to a Titan’s game, watch a VOLs game, go to church, visit my parent’s house, go shopping at The Avenue, some places in the Franklin and Cool Springs areas. We’d go to the new African American Music Museum that just opened and try to go salsa dancing Of course, it all depends on what is happening in the city, festivals or events. I’m not a huge partier, I’m too old for all that so most fun is built around family and friend gatherings and shopping.The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I want to shoutout my mentor, Deb Greening who is the person who helped me realize what my true purpose was in life. She was the person who graciously mentored me into the world of Project Management and has since become a dear friend and supporter along the way. Of course, my family and friends who let me be me and support(ed) me through all my twists and turns in life, even when they didn’t/don’t fully understand them. To all my clients who continue to trust me with their organizing and process development journeys. It keeps me humble and feeds my soul knowing I am helping to impact the lives of those around me the way others impacted me.