Guest post by Michele Dortch of IntegratedMother.com
What do you do?
It’s a simple question that comes up frequently for business women. Yet motherhood makes the answer complex.
Before children, you probably responded to this question with your career profession, “I’m an HR Manager.” Once children enter the picture, your heart wants to lead with, “I’m a mother,” but your head advises you to lead with something perceived as more credible first, especially if you’re at a business function.
If you’re like most success-driven women, you want to make a contribution to something meaningful. You also closely attribute what you do to your significance and importance. Becoming a mother complicates what you perceive as important – my career or my children? As a result the simple question, “What do you do?” transforms into the more difficult question, “Who are you?”
The transition from working woman to working mother is a period of significant change, yet few women recognize the change or actively do anything to bridge the gap between the two phases of life. Somewhere in between meaning, significance and importance is lost making the new question, “Who are you?” harder to answer.
The key to understanding the importance of knowing who you are can be explained by considering a metaphor; your life is like a computer.
When you first bought your computer, it was installed with a specific operating system (OS) as well as a variety of software applications. Technology advances rapidly, so before you know it you have to upgrade to a new OS to run new software applications, otherwise the computer will crash. This is exactly how motherhood works.
Before children, you operated from a specific set of values and beliefs (your OS) and pursued certain life goals (your software applications). You found confidence, importance and significance because new goals were handled by your OS with ease. Then one day, you added a radically new software application (children) and this required a major upgrade to your OS. But, you got busy and forgot to upgrade, so today you’re running on a patched up OS that’s often buggy and experiences full-system crashes periodically.
Sound familiar? If so, it’s time to upgrade your OS. Here are some basic steps to get you started:
- Clarify your values and beliefs. What are the 3-5 words or short phrases that describe who you are? If you’re having trouble determining your values, ask people around you for 3-5 words or short phrases that describe you.
- Establish your mission. A personal mission is a statement of purpose that provides direction and clarifies your reason for being. It’s a must-have for all working moms.
- Beta test and work out the bugs. Begin to actively use your mission statement. The ideal approach is to use it as a planning tool. As you plan your week, focus on activity that is aligned with your mission.
Once you complete these steps you’ll be well on your way toward upgrading your OS and before long, you’ll find greater ease and confidence answering the question, “What do you do?”