How to Manage Career, Motherhood and Life Without Losing Yourself
by: Michelle Dortch
Somewhere between working woman and working mother life changes dramatically. Priorities shift. Responsibilities expand. Time passes with greater speed. Worst of all you begin to lose yourself in the haste of work, family and life until suddenly you wake up to realize that you're always last on your "to-do" list.
You constantly put your needs aside by saying things like, "if I had more time," or "my job is so demanding," or "one day when my kids are older." Eventually, the thought of caring for yourself sounds blasphemous and impossible so you resign yourself to a life of service to others. You lose yourself to the demands of working motherhood then one day you fall asleep to your life and forget about your dreams, aspirations and needs altogether.
When you begin to feel out of balance, restless or discontent about your life, it's usually because something deep inside you is waking up. Your dreams are begging to be heard. Your aspirations are longing to be fulfilled. Your needs are aching to be met.
All these are subtle cues to the dissonance you have in your life the gap between what you're doing and what you truly want to be doing.
How do you find yourself and resolve this feeling of dissonance? The solution is to address these three key elements of integrated living:
Personal Mastery: Mastering the Inner You
Personal mastery is the fulfillment of your potential in balance with the development of your mental, emotional, social and physical well-being. To achieve this you must develop a foundation of inner and outer strength. Working moms who have achieved a high level of personal mastery coast through tough times with confidence and grace. They have a higher degree of confidence, self-love and assuredness that evokes balance and happiness.
To achieve personal mastery you can start by asking three simple questions:
>> What is my dream?
>> What are my principles for living and how am I living them out?
>> What are the key roles in my life and how am I honoring them?
Take time to reflect deeply on these questions and then free-write for five minutes put pen to paper for continuous writing. Do your best not to limit yourself by your past or your present. Just allow whatever comes from your mind and heart to flow freely on to the paper. Then spend time each week reflecting and refining your thoughts until you've crafted a Personal Mission Statement, which will become your compass for daily living.
Possibility: Practicing Optimism Everyday
It's said that your "attitude is everything." Your attitude, or thinking, influences your behaviors and actions. When you are consumed by negative thoughts you invite negative results. If, however, you focus your thinking on possibility and optimism, success and achievement are more likely to enter your life.
Why is that? Stephen Covey, in this book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, offers a simple answer in this see-do-get model. In this model he explains that what you see creates what you do, which results in what you get. So if you see yourself stuck in a job that you really hate because you have to pay the bills, it's very likely that you notice all the negative things about work everyday. However, if you choose to see your work as a vessel for leveraging your talents and strengths you will begin to take pride in your work which may result in a promotion or offer to take on work that truly fits you.
Learn to transform adversity into opportunities rather than roadblocks. Tell positive life stories, rather than stories of scarcity, fear and inadequacy. When life hands you lemons, then make lemonade and celebrate!
Connection: Nurturing Relationships that Count
Being a working mom can be an isolating experience. Often, the business of life makes it challenging to find time to develop and maintain your personal and professional network. Or you may be the kind of person who believes you can make it on your own. So when you hit a ripple in your life or you want to share a new accomplishment, you may find that you've got no one to turn to who truly matters.
If you seek balance in your work/life, then developing a strong community is essential. When you've developed supportive relationships you're much better at responding to stress, plus you have access to information, resources and connections that will help you navigate through the ups and downs of working motherhood.
Start today by analyzing your current relationships. Who are the important people in your life right now? What have you done to nurture and develop that relationship? What gaps do you see in your network? Do you need a mentor? Do you need help caring for your children so you can take time for personal renewal? How can you help the people in your network?
About the Author
Michele Dortch is the Founder of The Integrated Mother, a nationwide coaching and personal development company providing work+life solutions for working mothers and their employers.