I have been thinking of what to focus on with Lori while we wait for a response on her school application. The obvious choice is finding a job. I believe she is already working all the traditional channels, but I am fairly sure Lori would jump at a full time job that was more challenging than the reception/administrative type work she has been doing.
And while Lori has not said this, I do think it is really hard to put yourself 100% behind a job search when you are also pursuing an alternative that might make that effort less valuable, or at least unfocused.
So instead, Lori and I will discuss a plan for doing more social-professional networking & marketing for her freelance business. Our goal will be to increase her income. Lori and I still need to determine the actual number, but I'm thinking in terms of doubling and then doubling again her monthly income. Not only is this a business that she can continue, school or no-school, but it's something she can exert more control over, achieving a sense of satisfaction while still maintaining flexibility in her day to handle the unexpected sick child or other parenting emergency.
We'll start small — and it goes without saying that we need to think creatively when it comes to any additional expenses — but by first creating a longer term vision of what we want to have accomplished 6 months from now and then defining a series of specific weekly tasks, it will be manageable. Making even a little progress will reinforce the process and make it easier to continue to take increasingly larger strides. We'll focus — realistically — on how many new clients she could get over 6 months and then start building a plan around that.
I bet Lori will be surprised at the number of potential networking/referral sources she already has! Starting an advanced degree program will only increase that potential exponentially.