How do you prioritize the various professional and personal demands in your life?
Explore This IssueJuly 2018
JV: I used to think that success meant looking like other successful people, doing the things these successful people do, etc. Over time, I’ve realized that this can be quite counterproductive. Does the person I’m trying to imitate have a life/values/reality similar to mine? Do I actually want my life to resemble theirs? My version of success is going to be specific to me and includes, among other things, happiness. Cheesy as it sounds, I’ve taken to listening to wellness and life-coaching podcasts (note: I’m happy to make recommendations!). Managing my thoughts and understanding how they influence my reactions and behaviors is a skill I have not previously developed, but is important for my overall wellbeing. It is also helping me define what makes me happy. This, in turn, is allowing me to focus my energy and efforts on exploring ways to constructively work toward those things.
That said, I am still learning to balance all the competing demands in my life. A restructuring of priorities occurs almost daily. Right now, personal life success includes being part of my partner’s and daughter’s lives for not just the major, scheduled, events, but for some of the mundane, everyday little things, too. Right now, at a minimum, that’s bedtime. I have to be home to participate in the bedtime routine. Part of the struggle for me has been reconciling expectations in my personal life, and my own unconscious biases, with reality. As a woman, socialized in a culture where statements such as “being a mother is the most important job” and “having children completes you” are the norm, not being the primary caregiver to my daughter can feel wrong. Not fitting into this paradigm can be painful at times. I try to remember that different from the norm is not wrong. I enjoy being a mother, but my professional life is equally fulfilling. Furthermore, of my skills and attributes, the endless patience needed to be the full-time caretaker of a toddler is not among them. It is, however, one of the characteristics her father possesses, and [this] allows our family dynamic to work for us. However, this isn’t to say that I wasn’t crushed when my daughter asked me this past weekend, “Mommy, are you happy when you’re with me?” followed by, “Do you still love me when you’re at work?” Personal life “success” is a work in progress!