What’s your vision for yourself as a working parent?

(hot tip: it can be more than just “survive.”)

I worked in strategy consulting for almost 15 years.  There were so many things I loved about it, but my favorite part was getting to help others put structure around complex problems and craft the right messaging to garner support for their plans.  When I told people I was a consultant, I’d often get the whole “oh so you steal their watch and tell them the time” comment, which I’d take in good stride, but was of course a little offended.  It’s probably because they weren’t completely wrong, but what people often don’t understand about consulting is our value isn’t necessarily coming up with the most groundbreaking, never-before-seen or thought of solutions – rather, our ability to take a very messy question, problem, or situation and put it into a cohesive, structured framework that’s easy to understand. 

We help set a strategic vision, then hold clients accountable to that vision – the decisions they make, the resources they invest in, the people they will serve – they all have to somehow support that vision. 

The irony of doing this dozens of times for clients is that I’ve never really applied this to my own life.  Perhaps I was too exhausted or didn’t see a need for it in the early days of my career.  It took becoming a mother – more specifically, a 2nd time working mother – to finally see that an investment in creating a strategic vision for my own life was sorely needed. 

As I think about it more, becoming a working parent is really the perfect time to do this – the stakes feel higher, and your life as you know it is upended.  You are fully responsible for another human being, yet the relationships and responsibilities you took on pre-baby are still there.  There are endless resources on how to take care of baby – far fewer on how to navigate the fact that your world just flipped on its head. No wonder it feels messy; there is no playbook that guides you on the decisions you make, resources you invest in, and the people you serve (and one of those people should be yourself, although we often forget that) – sound familiar?  See above.

At Josie, one of the very first activities we do with our clients is help them set a vision for themselves that is uniquely theirs. In speaking to other new parents, I realized that rarely do people take the time to pause and do this.  Amid the chaos of having a new baby, it’s hard – luckily, I had help from a Josie coach to create mine, and I want to share it with you today:

Michelle’s vision statement:

“I am kind and accepting of myself so that I can be the best leader, mother, and partner.”

I worked closely with my Josie coach to create this vision.  We dug deep and uncovered that I struggle a lot with self-doubt and can be really hard on myself.  At the same time, the most important thing I want is for my kids to be kind and accepting of others.  My Josie helped me understand that learning to be kind and accepting of myself in this season of life would be the best way to achieve what I want for my children, my partner, my career, and most importantly, for me.

Since then, I’ve used my vision in countless ways.  Here’s just one example:  as a Founder and CEO of a fast-growing startup, I have allocated more after-school hours to work than spending time with my son.  There, I said it!  That means my son stays at school after-care about an hour more than he did last year.  Instead of feeling guilty about this, I’ve accepted that this is what I want to prioritize right now in my life, and I’m lucky I get to do it.  I’m not giving something up, rather, I’m building an awesome career for myself and that’s 100% okay.  I hope my kids are learning that it’s okay as well.

Have you created a vision for yourself?  We want to know!  If you’ve gone through a similar exercise we’d love to know and understand how it has served you.  We love building our Josie community and hearing from other working parents!

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