FOX News Guest Contributor Carolyn Castleberry always knew she wanted to be a journalist. For years, she built a career in business and journalism through a variety of positions and ventures. However, she always dreamed of being a coach and encourager to fellow professional Christian women struggling to balance work and life, and decided to become a stay-at-home mom and author. She talks with us today about how she realized this dream and shares with us her top tips for dealing with a transition in life.
4word: How did you decide on a career in the media?
Carolyn: I’ve always been curious by nature and, sometimes, just a pest. I have two older brothers and as a child I used to follow them around with a tape recorder interviewing them. One brother’s response was, “Mooommm – Carolyn is bugging me again!”
The other one played along and gave the most hysterical interviews. I was hooked!
Believe it or not, my love for television began by watching a Billy Graham crusade. The brother who thought I was a pest, Jeff, had become a Christian and, truly, he became a different person. One day, we sat together and watched the crusade on television and things just clicked for me. The power of communications has always intrigued me. When God gives you a platform, you never know who is listening or whose life He will change.
In my undergraduate work I studied both journalism and business and have worked in both fields for 25 years. My career started out in local news and I continue to contribute segments to FOX News today. (Watch the video below to see Carolyn in action!)
4word: What challenges have you faced as a Christian in a news media workplace?
Carolyn: The challenges in media really are the same as the challenges of working anywhere in the world. While it’s tempting to hide in our comfortable Christian circles, we are called to be a witness to the lost. I view news as a unique opportunity to reach the hurting.
Usually, I was very fortunate to have a fellow Christian friend at the station. My 5PM co-anchor and I used to pray before each newscast. Seriously. It wasn’t a big, elaborate prayer; sometimes we just bowed our heads and said, “To Your glory, Lord.” She and I were great friends and I hope it inspired others.
Kelly Wright at FOX News is also a dear friend and true man of God. I believe the key to effectiveness with non-believers is to respect them. Listen to them. We never pushed our beliefs on to anyone, but when they came to talk to us we didn’t hesitate to tell them about the hope that is in us.
4word: You made the decision to leave your career as a news anchor and become a stay-at-home mom. What gave you the courage to make this leap? Was there a financial impact for your family because of this decision?
Carolyn: Wow, I’m glad you asked me this question because I’ve always worked – I just have chosen to work flexibly. So instead of calling me a stay-at-home mom, I guess I would use the term work-at-home mom or entrepreneur. I’ve detailed some of our story in Women Take Charge of Your Money: A Biblical Path to Financial Freedom. I can also say that God gave me the courage to take the leap after overcoming a lot of fear.
As a dual-income family (both my husband John and I have been entrepreneurs and traditional workers), we have absolutely made sacrifices and had very scary times. It was always my job to bring in half the income, but I do have a different perspective on money. I believe you can control it instead of having finances dictate your life and how you spend your time. Learning from entrepreneur, John Hewitt, has taken this to a different level, which I plan to write about.
Overcoming fear of finances and taking a good, hard look at how much is really enough are very important in this process. It’s hard to live your most significant life when you can’t pay the bills. For every choice, there is a cost. But I found the cost of working flexibly to be more than worth it.
Unfortunately, this question of money and work can be very contentious among Christian moms. I do believe the huge divide is shifting now because so many stay-at-home moms do work in some capacity. Part of my job as a Halftime coach is to help them understand the value of all of their experiences moving into their second half of life. For some of my ladies, the Halftime model isn’t from Success to Significance. The model is from Significance to Significance.
4word: Did you struggle with adjusting to life as a stay-at-home mom after working? How were you able to handle the transition?
Carolyn: Life as an entrepreneur is a huge adjustment. You are no longer just a 9-5 worker. Truly, you are rarely off the clock. The difference is you are in charge of how and when you work. One of our priorities was to be there for our kids at their sporting events. We’re a sports family including basketball, swimming, lacrosse and field hockey. I was able to schedule most of my consulting projects and appointments around the kid’s schedules. We’ve worked harder as entrepreneurs but the trade off is we have been there for our kids.
The other major adjustment in going from traditional employment to a home office is loneliness. Really. There were many days when I was working on a writing project when our dog was the only company I had. The kids were at school and the house became very quiet. These days, I work both in a home office and in a corporate office, which I find is a nice balance. I love the quiet of writing and I love people and working with great teams. It took me a long time to find that balance.
4word: How do your careers as an author and a coach fit in with your mission to balance your time between work and family evenly?
Carolyn: I do the majority of my writing and all of my coaching calls from my home office. I absolutely love it. Halftime coaching is the highlight of my day because I can feel God at work in the lives of these women and we are seeing great results. Business projects and investments will come and go, but I believe I will always write and coach until the end of my days. This is who I truly am.
This year we become empty nesters as our third child – our baby – goes off to college. The family balance now enters a different season. We will always be a family even if we’re not together everyday.
4word: Tell us about your published works. Do you have any upcoming releases?
Carolyn: As I mentioned my background is business journalism and I invested time learning and working as a financial advisor. While I’ve written quite a bit on money matters, I truly believe that our greatest asset is time. My books include:
It’s About Time: 10 Smart Strategies to Avoid Time Traps and Invest Yourself Where it Matters (Simon & Schuster, 2009)
Financial resources include:
Women, Take Charge of Your Money: A Biblical Path to Financial Security and Women, Get Answers about Your Money: because there are no dumb questions about personal finance (Multnomah/Random House, 2006)
More than Enough with Life Today is a collaborative work.
This past year, I’ve had the privilege of working with one of the top entrepreneurs in our country, John Hewitt. He’s the founder of two top tax firms and co-founder of Stop Hunger Now. His book, iCompete: My Extraordinary Strategy for Winning is our collaborative effort.
Personally, I am also working on additional faith-based business resources for women – stay tuned!
4word: What led you to pursue coaching with the Halftime Institute?
Carolyn: It was my “time” work that led me to Halftime as well as a dear friend, author Kathy Peel. She is known for her Family Manager books and we had talked about working together for women in the future. I told her about my dream of coaching women on investing time where it matters most to them and to God.
She was a client of Halftime and introduced me to this fabulous group. Kathy and I (as well as all of our coaches) have faced our own Halftime challenges and the feeling that God had something more for us in our lives.
For me, news was fine but my true desire was to focus on the good news of faith in a bigger way. Balancing work and family was also a huge challenge for me and, truly, changed my perspective on what’s really important. Now, as an empty nester, I see the balancing act with different eyes. That’s where coaching comes in and I believe the second half of life can be just as significant as the first half – different, but amazing!
4word: What are some top reasons/concerns that prompt professionals to seek the counsel of a professional coach?
Carolyn: The biggest challenge is gaining clarity as you re-orient your life toward your priorities and goals for your second half.
Together, we address questions such as:
- What does significance look like for you, and how do you attain it?
- How does the desire for significance dovetail with the other important elements of your life? i.e., marriage, family, a need for continued income)
- How much (success, wealth, lifestyle, acclaim, etc.) is enough?
- What is your personal mission for the next season of life?
- How can you find a best-fit role?
I have found that many moms my age (over 50) feel that life and true significance is over when children leave the nest. Not so! This can become a beautiful season for you because God has indeed prepared work for you, in advance, uniquely designed to your strengths and gifts.
The Halftime process usually takes a year of soul searching and working one on one with a coach to help guide you in next steps. Accountability and encouragement are key factors.
4word: Can you share some of your top tips for dealing with transition?
- Don’t try to do this alone. I strongly suggest partnering with a one-on-one coach who has successfully navigated these murky waters and knows how it feels.
- Recognize that to transition successfully through the season of halftime takes a lot of work, thought and time.
- Failure is not fatal. Try some things. Experiment with activities you think you will enjoy. Dip your toe in some ministries. We call these low-cost probes.
- If you are married, we suggest involving your spouse in the journey.
Embrace the heart journey. This isn’t just a head journey – what am I going to do next? It’s also who do I need to be or become.
What dreams have you carried with your throughout the years? Have you ever taken the steps to start making them a reality? Take cues from Carolyn’s example and start pursuing the project, career, or outreach that you’ve always felt called to!
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Carolyn has more than 25 years of experience in business journalism and is a nationally recognized author with Simon & Schuster and Random House on time and money management. For the last several years, she has worked in financial services with prominent national firms.
Carolyn’s halftime call came in the mid-2000’s when she walked away from a successful career as a newscaster to balance family and search for significance in her work life. What followed was a decade-long ride of great experiences in ministry and the corporate world, along with excruciating trials. Carolyn paid the “dumb tax,” ending up in places and positions – with well-intentioned people – that were the wrong fit.
Thankfully, God’s grace won the day and the decade. These challenges led Carolyn to Halftime and a more thoughtful, process-driven approach to discerning God’s call. Her mission is to empower leaders for Christ in a safe, non-judgmental, protected environment to create enduring impact for the Kingdom. Carolyn and her husband have been married for 20 years with two daughters in college and a son who works in financial services.