In this issue of Working Mom 3.0, writer Stephanie Taylor Christensen explores how asking three key questions of yourself, and your career, can transform your work-at-home life this year.
Who am I trying to impress?
Being a work-at-home mom often invites a sense of trying to please everyone — yet feeling like you've come up short. It's only natural; you are, literally, managing two worlds at once. To make a meaningful transformation in the way your life is structured this year, consider what aspects of your lifestyle exist because of the joy and fulfillment they bring — and what you do because you feel that you should. Before you commit to any nonessential activity this year, ask yourself why you're doing it and if it's really the way you and your family can best use the limited time you have. If the kids no longer enjoy a sport or class they're enrolled in, you've overcommitted to your own groups or financial stresses are taking their toll to support a lifestyle you can't truly afford, make this the year you prioritize your energy. Such transitions can be challenging, but filtering your time to commit to what really makes an impact on overall happiness can transform the quality of your life and relationships.
What can I change about my reactions?
In The Four Agreements, a life guide of sorts based on the teachings of the ancient Toltec tribe, Don Miguel Ruiz shares a key secret to living happily: Don't take things personally. Instead of reacting emotionally to things people say or do, notice the patterns of your reactions — and how they might be based on a false truth that limits your ability to see situations for what they are. If business goals aren't working out the way you'd hoped, for example, don't assume it's a failure or sign of lacking on your part. If your spouse doesn't support you in a way you expect, resist the urge to assume it is a personal attack. When you learn to take your own emotions out of equations, you'll find more inner peace with outcomes and your interactions with others.
How am I devaluing myself?
Particularly if you took a step away from a lucrative career to be a work-at-home mom, you likely devalue the amazing feats you conquer every day, in your internal dialogue, and the words you choose to describe what you do to others. Though I'm very proud of my accomplishments as a work-at-home mom, I constantly catch myself minimizing how far I've come, out of fear of judgment or sounding arrogant. But the reality is, such reactions lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy that limits our success, according to Susan Krauss Whitbourne, a professor of psychology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. If you find yourself using words that minimize your career pursuits, or role as a mother, consider what feelings you're harboring that are making you feel inadequate. Whitbourne says that looking into the reasons you don't embrace success can help you face and overcome the fears that hold you back, whether it's a hesitancy to command premium rates or strive for a certain caliber of professional success.
Working Mom 3.0
The modern woman is redefining what it means to have a successful career. Rather than feeling torn between climbing the corporate ladder and having a happy family life, many women are choosing to merge the two and transition careers from a traditional role to a more flexible one. Working Mom 3.0 is reinventing the definition of "working mom," as office hours are held at home and revolve around nap times.
This column begins by chronicling the experiences of Stephanie Taylor Christensen, a former marketing professional turned self-employed stay-at-home mom, writer and yoga instructor, as she strives to redefine "having it all" on her own time and terms.
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