We’ve seen in recent blogs how combining a successful career with motherhood presents a unique set of challenges. There are obvious pitfalls linked to stress, overwhelm and guilt, as well as external pressures such as discrimination, inflexibility and resistance in the workplace. However, the fact remains that many women do manage to balance a high level career and motherhood successfully. They do, indeed, seem to ‘have it all’. So what’s their secret?

You Can ‘Have It All’ (If you know what you want)

‘Having it all’ used to mean having a top-flight career and raising several children in superwoman fashion – a la Nicola Horlick, the archetypal career mother.  However, I believe that ‘having it all’ is no longer about aspiring to some superhuman level of living, but about identifying what truly makes YOU happy and fulfilled.  There is no ‘standard’ you have to reach. What one woman wants may be very different from another’s. Set your own benchmarks and define your own set of priorities for living a contented life. Be realistic about what ‘having it all’ means to you and don’t let anyone else or society dictate what you can and can’t do.

Take Control

Once you realise that ‘having it all’ is not some impossible gold standard that only a few superwomen can reach, you can start taking control over your own destiny. You are free to ascertain what is important in your life and can decide not to let external circumstances dictate where you end up.

The key to all this is taking control of what you CAN change, instead of focusing on what you can’t. To do this you need a rock solid positive belief in your own choices and abilities. It sounds so simple, and yet negative beliefs may turn out to be the biggest hurdle to achieving your goals.

The first step, then, towards a successful transition to working motherhood is to construct a positive picture of your journey. This is a summary of the “Picture Your Journey” exercises in the first module of the Babyproof Your Career Programme

Have it all

1. Having it ‘all’ – What is your personal vision?

What are your goals – both for your career and personal life? Is it your dream to be a partner or have a seat on the board, or are you happy to go with the flow and see where your career takes you? And in your personal life, do you want kids and if so how many? Imagine yourself 5/10 years from now. How are you working? Where are you living? How are you balancing it all? When reflecting on these questions, be mindful of the following:

  1. Watch out for self editing

    We all tend to limit our dreams and goals to what we think is or isn’t possible. It’s also common to be afraid of making our goals so specific. We worry that we’re going to be tempting fate, or jinxing ourselves. But studies show that the clearer you are about your goals, the greater your chances of achieving them.

  2. Be ambitious

    We’re talking about having it all, remember. Let go of any fears you have of wanting or hoping for too much. Create a vision that is bold and daring, even one that seems impossible, and then sit on it for a few days. Even the most audacious of goals can start to feel comfortable after the initial adrenalin rush that comes with thinking big.

  3.  Challenge your preconceptions

    Does your upbringing, past experience or people you know affect the way you think about what it means to be a good mother? Do you focus on negative surveys or reports about working mothers or think about a happy childhood spent with a stay at home mum? To give yourself the best chance of creating your vision, your version of having it all, here are some ways to gain a more balanced view:
    – Reflect on where and who these beliefs come from.
    – Find evidence giving the opposing view, such as talking to a friend who grew up with a working mum and loved  their childhood.
    – Do your own research – don’t believe sensationalist hype about the effect working has on kids. There are always two sides to every story.

  4. Find a role model

    Look for people who embody the values you admire. Use their qualities and successes as inspiration and motivation in your own career and personal life.

    have it all

2. Future challenges. What should you expect? What must you prepare for?

Forewarned is most definitely forearmed. Think about all the challenges that could arise for you in balancing your career and personal life. Take a look at the 5 pitfalls of working motherhood and think about how they might affect you personally. With knowledge and planning you can prepare strategies for overcoming obstacles and dealing with pressures.

3. Positive mindset. Get out of your own way!

Believe you can do it. Combining work and family is just another challenge. Ok so it’s a super huge one, but it’s still a challenge. And with any challenge it helps if you are on your own side and can have confidence in your own ability to succeed.

All too often when faced with a daunting challenge we doubt our abilities and skills, little realising how much harder the task becomes as a result. Enough of that. It’s time to trust in your ability to make your vision a reality. Be bold. Take a leap of faith. Do what you’re afraid to do. This is how goals are achieved and visions turned into reality. Here are some tips on building your confidence:

  • Renounce perfection – aim to be good enough, nobody’s perfect! And you don’t need to achieve remarkable results.
  • Embrace your inner imposter. If you suffer from Imposter Syndrome, you are probably very successful at working hard to overcome hardship and beat the odds! Use this knowledge to empower you. Know that you can succeed in difficult circumstances.
  • Keep a record of all your past achievements and the praise you have received – use them as affirmation of your abilities.

Now you have an outline of how to picture your successful journey to career/life balance, sign up to our mailing list for more detailed information, resources and strategies, or visit our Linkedin Group for further in-depth discussion and ideas.

Coming soon – you have the vision of your dream working and family life, now prepare the foundations! We’ll show you how to put yourself and your career on a solid footing before the time comes.

Please share with colleagues and friends!