A Better Way to Measure Success in Working Motherhood

Recently an image by @LizandMollie about how we are taught to measure success at work versus what a better measure might look like made its way around the internet:

a better measure of success

We couldn’t agree more that there are many facets to success so we turned to our Community on LinkedIn to get their reactions to this idea and to see what some would add or subtract to the equation. We heard everything from flexibility (a big one for most moms according to one of our WerkLabs studies) to job satisfaction, from passion for your work to free time for pursuing interests outside of work, from societal impact to how your children perceive your job. Some people wanted to scrap salary and title all together. There were graphs with one thing and graphs with dozens of inputs.

Our biggest takeaway from the conversation?

Success is (or at least, it should be) a deeply personal experience. What works for me might not even be a blip on your radar and the reverse is true as well.

This graph wasn’t specifically directed at moms, but it is highly relevant when considering our careers and how we view our successes as working mothers. One thing we would add is that this graph is not static. The truth of working motherhood is that your priorities will change depending on which stage of life you're in. There is a seasonality to motherhood and the other aspects of your life may have to bloom or hibernate depending on which season you are in. Which makes this idea of one standard of success a false narrative, one we should stop buying into.

“We can design our own success based on what’s most important to us. So name your own slices of pie and decide how big they are. And then when you achieve that, you’ve been successful.” - Casey G.

Instead of a fixed destination, let’s look at our life in this season, in this stage that we are currently in and consider what will make a positive impact for us today, and tomorrow. How can we pursue opportunities that lead to more of what we want and need? What do we do when we cannot find those opportunities right now? How can we measure success in a way that is true to our current step in the journey of working motherhood and is also setting us up for future success? 

“Success isn’t a destination, it’s the habits and thoughts we allow ourselves to practice.” - Cynthia R.

Today’s success may look like flexibility and a twenty hour work week. In 3-5 years it may be a landscape you cannot even imagine right now. Just as we pay attention to the way our children’s needs change as they grow (bigger clothes, different foods, age-appropriate toys and games, school or child care and so on), we should also pay attention to how our needs change as our children grow and as we, ourselves, grow.

“I think this is such a much needed reminder given the last 12 months of constant changes for everyone. Between stresses we can control and stresses we can't, this pie chart is a moving target!” - Lori K.

Our challenge to you

Take some time to write down what success means to you when you incorporate all aspects of your life. How you are successful as a mom, an employee, a boss, a friend, in your family, in your community and so on. Then take your list and divide it into your own pie chart to measure your success.

different areas of success to consider

You might just find that success isn’t a certain title or salary, and it certainly isn’t competing against other mothers in this world. Success is you doing you: finding happiness, challenging yourself and bringing the best version of yourself to your life as often as you can. All that adds up to a life truly well-lived. 

Tiffany Nieslanik is the Managing Editor at The Mom Project, a graduate student, and a homeschooling mom to 3 young kids. In her (limited) free time she’s also an avid reader, a proponent of power naps, and enjoys getting outside as often as possible

Success on your own terms

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