Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Measure of Success: How Do You Measure Up?

It is Transformation Tuesday! Today, coinciding with the Measure of Success Blog Tour, I am writing about how my view of success has transformed throughout the past 20 years. 

As part of the Blog Tour, I am excited to be writing alongside hundreds of other inspiring authors about what success looks like. Learn more and join in the blog tour – CLICK HERE! Read on to learn more about my own transformation.

Do you think it’s possible for women to “have it all”? In other words, can someone have a thriving career and a thriving home life? What do you think makes this possible or impossible?

I think it is possible for women to have both a thriving career and home life but not with out a lot of hard work, trial-and-error and support from her employer, colleagues and family. The trick is to find out how to keep things relatively in balance. Ever since I became a mother in 2001, I have been a full time, work outside the home mom. Now, with three kids from tween to preschool, I have different challenges than when I only had my first child. When I had one child, it was easier for me to do what was necessary to get ahead - work longer hours, travel, etc. There were fewer schedules to juggle. We also had less expenses so I felt a little more at ease taking career risks.

Now, with three kids, I feel more pressure when I am traveling, staying late, taking after hour calls or answering emails at night. I know how much pressure that puts on my husband's shoulders. His understanding and support is the main thing that has made it possible for me to be successful in my career. He wants me to do my best. He doesn't shrink from childcare duties, from parenting.

Have you ever had to make a difficult decision about work? This could be something such as quitting a job, taking on a second job, changing careers, starting over in the workplace after staying home, etc.? What motivated you to make that decision?

There have been a few times when I had to make difficult work decisions. One big one was when I was recruited to go run a PR firm for Catholic organizations. I had just completed six years of service at my firm, I loved my colleagues and I had the flexibility of working from home one day a week. But I wanted to grow and experience new challenges that launching a firm and managing an agency would bring. Challenges I could not experience where I was. So, I took the plunge and left a relatively secure workplace to launch a start up without any previous management experience. I would never do that now! 

Another time, during the recession and when I was out of work, I had to make the decision to be up front about the work/life balance needs I was desiring in a new position. Atlanta is a huge traffic nightmare and If I was going to commute into the city, I was not going to give up the ability to work from home at least one day week or lose vacation time I had accrued elsewhere. This kept me from some good opportunities, but I have my sanity intact - at least most of the time.

What do you think has shaped your sense of success? What do you think has driven your choices about work?

My sense of success has changed over time and as I have matured as a person and as a Christian. I used to think the big salary, title and corner office meant success. When I got the big title I sort of let it go to my head. That experience taught me a lot and out of it came my biggest period of professional and spiritual growth. Now I feel that success for me means so much less about material things and so much more about connection. To me success means:
  • Having a deep, personal relationship with Jesus and making room to grow in faith
  • Making a decent living, doing something meaningful that I enjoy (which in my case is helping Christian organizations, businesses and nonprofits communicate) and doing it well
  • Having the respect and friendship of my clients, my colleagues and my senior management team
  • Enjoying a level of balance that allows me to give my best to my job and my family
  • Living within our means 
  • Having a comfortable, inviting home
  • Being involved with each of my kids in a meaningful, personal way and connecting with them daily
  • A strong devotion and connection with my husband that deepens every year despite any struggles we face
  • Making a difference in my community
Certainly, finances have influenced my choices about work but I have always known I would work. My mom worked and yet she had the flexibility to always be there when I was home from school. I did well in school and pursued a journalism degree in college and never really thought I would not work. I am doer. If I was a SAHM, I can't even imagine the number of things I would be involved in outside the home. It is just in my nature.

Can a woman be godly and pursue a successful career?

Absolutely, women have always worked. They just might not have gotten paid for it. Being Godly is a condition of the heart. If you are following God's will for your life, loving and serving others it should not matter whether you work inside the home or outside the home. Both of those jobs have their own set of challenges. God has given each of us gifts and for some of us that means using them in a traditional work environment. 

What about you? Please comment below with your answers to the prompt questions and share on social media using the hashtag #measuringup or post a picture of “where you work” using the hashtag #measuringup. 

Carolyn McCulley wrote the Measure of Success about women, work and the home. Get your copy here.

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