When I wrote this post about not having goals or resolutions this year and instead, wanting to take a step back and have more balance, less work, and more time with my family, it was one of my most popular posts for WEEKS. So many of you felt the same way! It was nice, because this is a very new feeling to me, and it was reassuring to know I wasn’t alone. (I really REALLY wasn’t alone!)
Changing Hustle Culture
We’ve been having a lot of great conversations on Instagram stories/DM lately about “ambition” and “success”. And how we were taught a very narrow definition of “success” and what that should look like.
In reality, that narrow definition (you know, “society’s” definition) isn’t what makes a lot of people happy anymore–and it can be a jarring realization for a generation of women who have been brought up in “hustle” culture. Who were taught that “we could do anything” and we shouldn’t waste our shot. Because so many women before us didn’t have that luxury. It’s a lot, right?
But I think the pandemic made many of us realize that the work-centered life we’ve been killing ourselves over for the majority of our professional careers just isn’t doing it anymore. For others, it seems like motherhood was the catalyst that seems to have brought upon that clarity. (For me, honestly, it was both!)
It reminds me of that philosophy– “what got you here won’t get you there.” What worked 5 years ago isn’t working now.
That’s okay! Now it’s time to make some changes to re-align our lives with our current values.
For me personally, I’m in a season of “less”–emphasis on the “season” part. I know there will likely be other seasons where the tables are turned. If motherhood has taught me anything, it’s that everything is a phase. Everything is a season, and the only thing that is constant is that things are constantly changing. I even feel like I’m in a different (better!) place now than I was when I wrote that New Years Resolution post.
Of course, there are many ambitious women who have so much passion for what they do throughout their lives and that passion never wanes. And that is so amazing! I have many friends like this. (Many of them mothers, by the way. So please do not take this post to mean that motherhood makes you give up on your dreams–I think it just forces you to take a hard and fast look at what really makes you happy!) I’m so proud of these friends–it’s so rewarding to watch them figure out what they want. And to cheer them from the sidelines while they go after it!
Maybe they need to decline the promotion, not chase after it. Maybe they need to take a pause and re-evaluate. And maybe they just need a less-demanding job, even if it’s a more “boring” one, or less pay. Or maybe they need a whole new career or lifestyle change. (Whether that’s a paid or unpaid career change–and please note, making the choice to stay home with your kids counts as a career change!)
All of these things are EQUALLY as amazing. I have a lot of friends who have chosen this path too–and know what? Watching their new path and seeing them flourish is no less rewarding. I’m equally as proud of ALL of them.
Does this mean these friends are less ambitious? Does it mean they’re lazy? No! It’s equally, and one could argue, MORE ambitious to admit that you need a change. And then decide to take a path that is less secure, and more unknown! (Also, I can think of no job LESS lazy than staying home with your kids. WOW WOW WOW.)
Please know, whichever camp you fall into–and anything in between–it doesn’t mean you’re lazy. And it doesn’t mean you aren’t passionate. And it doesn’t mean you’re failing your female ancestors who weren’t granted the choices you were. Or that you aren’t a feminist.
It means you’re taking matters into your own hands. It means you are brave. And it means you’re chasing the life that you want–you aren’t willing to settle for less than your own happiness. Let’s champion ALL of these choices. They are all definitions of success!
Many of you had wonderful comments to share on this topic, so I wanted to share some of them in case they resonate with you too:
[one-half-first]”I pulled out of an interview process for a position at a new company. It was a better title, salary, and benefits, but I was like, “Do I want to prove myself again and work that hard? Nope.” We’ve all been conditioned to always go for the next thing. I’m proud of myself for saying no!”
“I’m quitting my job in a month to stay home with my daughter and have so many mixed feelings. Knowing it’s what I want, but struggling with that not aligning with society’s expectation of success, but I’m making the best choice for me!”
“The US is so focused on overworking and encouraging being a workaholic. I don’t want to feel “lazy” for not wanting to work more or achieve a certain status at work! I want to have balance and have time at home with my younger children while they are young.”
“Let’s normalize people making the decisions that are best for THEM and make them happy. Not glorifying some standard we think we have to live up to just because it makes someone else happy. Makes me think of that Glennon Doyle book that said, “stop asking someone else for directions to a place they’ve never been!”
“I struggled with this when I took a [career changing] job at a non-profit. I knew I could make a substantial amount more if I kept climbing the ladder at my previous corporate job. But I am still so happy I made the move to do something I love that also gave me aw ark-life balance! It’ been three years and every now and then, I feel the questions in the back of my head pop up about salary or promotion timeline…but then I just remind myself of my overall goals and settle back into what feels most right–for me!”
“People need to stop glorifying “work” as everything in life. Maybe a step back career wise means you’re flourishing as a MOM! And that’s a lot. You’re hustling in a very new way. We aren’t simply what we do for a living. We are so multi-purposed!” [/one-half-first]
[one-half] “I’ve been wanting to find a less demanding job for years, but my baby was the push I needed. I just accepted a new job with a smaller caseload and less demands. I don’t care about the slight pay cut. I’m never gonna regret not making a few thousand extra per year, but I sure as hell would regret missing out on time with my family and friends!”
“This hits at a perfect time. Took a year off teaching to be home with my little one and a job I’ve always wanted opened up at work, and I have no desire to apply, but feel like I should. I just don’t want to do more right now!”
“I’m graduating from Georgetown with my masters this May, and could 100% be applying for jobs with a better salary, but I know I wouldn’t have the work life balance I have right now, and I decided it’s just not worth it! I don’t know if the pandemic changed my views or what, but I’m here for it!”
“I have an interview for a promotion on Monday that I would’ve been overjoyed for 3-4 years ago, but I’m honestly just not that energized by the opportunity right now. And that’s ok! ♥️”
“Protecting yourself and your happiness is hard to do when you work so hard to be “successful” but then realize you aren’t happy working so much!”
“I loved the grind for over a decade after college, but was lucky enough to be able to quit my day job and focus on writing (and then later becoming pregnant). Sometimes I struggle feeling bad about “abandoning” my career path but…I’m so much more satisfied with my days and being able to take care of myself and my family instead of always feeling worn out and like my dreams are passing me by!”
“I just can’t justify the nonsense “hustle” in this season of life, and I freaking love it!” [/one-half]