A few weekends ago I was finally lucky enough to get my hands on a ticket to a ‘Lucky Things Meet Up’ event in London – a seminar and networking event organised by Sunita from ‘Lucky Things Blog‘. The theme of the event was ‘Career confidence’, and whilst I planned my journey and my outfit it occurred to me that this perhaps was the worst themed event I could have gone to. After all, I’m on a career break, being ‘just’ a stay at home Mum, doing ‘not much really’ as I so often respond to the question ‘What are you doing now?’.
I decided to go anyway, in all honesty because I needed a break from the potty training before I lost my mind. I figured I might get some insight about how to tackle the time I need to return to work, whenever that may be.
And, just a matter of hours later, it dawned on me that this of course was exactly the event I needed to attend at this juncture of my life.
You see, what I realised is that it’s time I stopped telling everyone I’m doing nothing, whilst I spend my days working my socks off as a Mother, and six evenings a week or so working my socks off as a blogger.
I have created my own business, I have cultivated a career that works around my family, and although it’s hard work, it’s working for us.
But does this make me a success?
Well, that depends what success looks like to me, or to you, doesn’t it?
As I’ve mulled this over since the event, when we were asked to think about what success means to us, and I realised that success isn’t necessarily a destination, but an ever moving goal post, depending on your dreams, aspirations and circumstances at any given point in time.
Looking back over my own life experiences, what I deemed to be success has certainly evolved as much as the person striving to achieve it.
As a young girl and teenager success was all about being popular. Having the right stuff, the right friends and fitting a mould. Not that I always achieved these things, but that in itself at that time in your life is enough to make you feel like a failure.
Fortunately, as the focus shifted to academic studies, success was all about exam results and the pathways they opened up. A university place, a college course, a decent job. At this stage career progression wasn’t really a focal point – not yet anyway…but that would soon come.
As careers were carved and the initial excitement of a monthly income faded, being successful suddenly took on a new shape. Career aspirations blossomed and suddenly each grade rise or pay rise was just a stepping stone to wanting the next one. Constantly pushing ourselves beyond our comfort zones to achieve the next jump, our twenties were the time we chased the promotions, built up our CV experiences and reaped the rewards.
But once the careers stabilised and the dizzy days of partying lost their appeal, suddenly the friends around me and I were striking a new norm – the world of ‘settling down’ and buying houses. Success suddenly felt about who had what property under their belt, how many bedrooms, and whether this was your much coveted ‘forever home’.
With rooms to fill came weddings and babies, lots of them. For us, for our friends and our family. Suddenly, this bombshell made success as we knew it take an entirely new shape.
For many of us, including me, success in career terms just took a totally new form. It no longer comprised working long hours and high end business trips with a tasty salary to match – it had a whole new much longed for factor; flexibility. Finding a career which accommodated your new and growing family suddenly becoming the deal breaker.
Many of those of us who have chosen to continue with their successful careers have had to find a way to achieve some kind of flexible working around their family – be it working from home, a reduction in hours, or perhaps any of these things for their partners work, should that be the better option.
As my career is no longer recognisable from it’s 9-5 office days of formal attire and scientific reports, it’s time to respect the fact that it is a career nonetheless.
Being a blogger brings on a whole new measure of success… followers, page views, events, networks, chart rankings, awards and accolades, and yes of course…earning money. It’s not a big thing to everyone of course, but every blog and blogger is different – some are doing it for fun around a great job, some as a form of therapy, some may not need the money, and some, well let’s just say for some writing about your ten favourite baby purees isn’t going to put food on the table.
Having started a blog as a hobby, I never expected to turn it into a business, but sometimes life takes a path you don’t expect. I now see my success as a blogger not as stats, not as rankings, not as followers, but as a way of doing something I LOVE as a JOB that WORKS around my FAMILY.
Striving to succeed in this game therefore isn’t about fame, or even about fortune, but about having a sense of pride that I have carved something out of nothing, and hope to continue to do so until the day it dries up, or it’s no longer giving me the work-life balance and job satisfaction that it is giving me right now.
Success at this moment in time, to me, means being at the school gate, the nursery door, and the class assembly. Being at the park, the supermarket or the garden centre when I choose to, and being hard at work at my kitchen table, my garden, on the sofa in my PJs when I choose to. Which sometimes, means not at all.
Success certainly takes all sorts of shapes and sizes to each and every one of us, and who knows how it will look in another, five, ten, twenty years from now…
But for now, I am Sarah, and I am a blogger.