You Can Have a Great Career and Life and yet, Feel Something is Missing
The Questions is, What do you do About it?
Although today she is an author, speaker and professional coach and consultant, helping executives, entrepreneurs, and organizations create successful future strategies that align their actions with their values and purpose, 42 year old, Dr. Melanie Hicks’ journey didn’t start there.
Dr Hicks has more than 18 years of experience in the education, nonprofit, and social enterprise space. She began her career as the Aide to the Mayor of Tallahassee, a special projects coordinator with the Florida Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability, and as an adjunct professor of Public Administration for the Florida State University and the Barry University.
She served as the Director of Research for the Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida, an advocacy organization, and concurrently as the Managing Director of the Florida Independent College Fund, a 501c3 foundation. While at ICUF/FICF she implemented a four‐prong system for federal and state grant funding applications resulting in enhanced collaborative partnerships and led ICUF’s governmental affairs research for advocacy in Tallahassee and Washington, DC.
She served as Assistant Provost at the University of Tampa where she created the University’s first Office of Sponsored Programs and oversaw the University’s 52 department budgets, and all grants and contracts. She also taught courses in Social Entrepreneurship, Environmental Policy, and Public Private Partnerships, among others.
She also served as the Vice President, Education Solutions Group at MGT Consulting where she led business development for PK12, Higher Education and Education Transformation Practice areas.
She sounds pretty accomplished and successful, doesn’t she? She was. So what could have been missing? “Do you ever feel like you have done everything you were supposed to do?” She asks. “Checked all the boxes. And yet you are still chasing something. Maybe not even sure what that something is. Do you have Sunday night nausea about your work on Monday. What if I told you that doesn’t have to be your reality?
This scenario was me. I did everything I was supposed to do. Climbed the corporate ladder, started my own company, built financial wealth, got published, did philanthropic work, ran half marathons, but I also drank, partied and shopped. Nothing — healthy or unhealthy was filling the gap — the incongruence. I woke up every day viscerally miserable first just with work, then eventually affecting my personal life.
And then it hit me — like a lead balloon. I was living a life that was incongruent with my true self. I was allowing obligations, societal expectations and my own self-doubt and fear to drive my decisions — instead of my own intuition.
So I had to ask where do I go from here? Do I up-end my life? Do I quit my job? Run off to find a completely new future? No. I got really clear about what I wanted for my life and I put one foot in front of the other toward that goal. I became dedicated to aligning my life and becoming completely congruent with who I was designed to be. One tiny step at a time.
My parents are very risk averse. Both worked a single career (police officer and teacher) their entire career and can not really imagine a life of entrepreneurship, but deep down I have had the entrepreneur spirit my entire life. I was always the person looking to color outside the lines and push all the boundaries when it came to work. My husband and friends were very supportive. Many asked me what took me so long, knowing I had it in my soul to do it years before I actually did. It took me nearly two decades to fully launch this dream but that was the precise timing it was meant to happen. After all, timing is everything.
Money can be a very valid and frightening concern,” when venturing out on your own. “For me,” Dr Hicks says, “I just made a plan and stuck with it.”
It can be difficult to juggle work and family but for Dr Hicks who has worked for so many years, it was not an issue. Furthermore, she says, “this is not something I have any difficulties with. I have always had a chaotic life with many priorities and many obligations. Its partially in my nature to thrive there.”
As far as financing her new career she says, her husband “is fabulous. Totally supportive and my biggest cheerleader. He often says he has no idea what or how I do the things I do but he just has faith that everything I do with all my soul will be successful. So far — I have never let him down but. Although I am married, my husband and I do not share finances, a choice we both made well before our marriage. Therefore starting my business was fully on my shoulders.
About a year before I decided to leave my corporate job I got really serious about my finances. I started by eliminating the small things — coffee’s and subscriptions I hardly used, etc. Then I applied for a consolidation loan to wrap in all my credit cards allowing a lower interest and a single monthly payment. This also meant I completely stopped using credit for anything. Everything came from my debit card/cash or I didn’t buy or do it. Finally, I started socking away as much as I could every month. Anytime I wanted to splurge, I looked at my sticky note with my business idea on it and reminded me why I was sacrificing. At the end of a year, I had managed to save enough money to cover around 7 months of bills. This was my runway for starting to earn money.
And then I never looked back.
At some point I had to decide who is in charge of my life. There is a saying I like to remind myself of often: Stop asking directions from people who have never been where you are going. This was my key to shedding other’s expectations and doing what I knew in my heart was right for me.”
Age has never been a factor for Dr Hicks. On the subject she says, “Age is a number we internalize. My mother is 71 and yet she has the energy and spirit of a 45 year old. Take good care of yourself — physically through exercise and good nutrition; mentally through reading and engaging with other intellectuals; spiritually — through your meditation or prayer or whatever way you quiet your mind and connect with something larger than yourself. These are the things that keep us young, regardless of how many years since our birth.”
Her upcoming book is called, Incongruent; My misaligned life and the trek to becoming congruent. “It illustrates the lightbulb moment she realizes her own life was slightly off center and the plan she put in place to right size into congruency. This book is both a journey of her understandings and a roadmap inspiring the reader to become the person they were designed to be.
Incongruent is a story of peering into the looking glass of our authentic selves. It is a story of deep self-discovery and acceptance of the good, bad and ugly of our own reality. It is a story of being resolute about who we are and what we stand for. It is a story of being brave enough to accept nothing less than perfect alignment with our values no matter what the cost.
Spanning topics both cringeworthy controversial and humorously mundane, Dr. Hicks, who wrote her first book at 10 years old, and has been published in numerous magazines and websites including Forbes.com, Humanity Wine Co., The District, Doctor’s Life and the Journal for Research Administration, winds her way through her own life experiences in career, relationships, religion, politics, and society highlighting the peaks and valleys in pursuit of her own dharma. Along the way she features the stories of others on a similar trek, exemplifying each person’s unique way to find meaning.”
You can reach out to Dr. Hicks at email@example.com
Or follow her at:
@InPursuitMelSue on Instagram
@InPursuitMelSue on Twitter