Monday, August 16, 2010

Changing the meaning of success

I used to dream of having the corner office and leading a PR firm as a senior vice president of something. I truly believed I could have it all—the uber-successful career, the perfect marriage and the perfect kiddos.

For those of you who finally stopped laughing at the last statement, you realize how impossible that dream was. But it motivated me. It kept me seeking the next great opportunity where I could learn/do/manage more. But then I had kids and life became a bigger balancing act.

I read an article on that talked about how women are redefining the meaning of success in the corporate world. As I read the article I found myself nodding along with statements from other working moms who have found a way to make it work. Working moms make up 51% of the workforce now, and we’re making it work for us.

I personally subscribe to the philosophy that I work to live, not live to work. That’s not to say that I don’t love my job, because I do. But I appreciate that my employer encourages a healthy work-life balance. When I work, I work. When I’m home, I’m dealing with the work that needs to be done at home: directing homework for the kids, dinner, baths, laundry, cleaning, planning the next day, etc. Occassionally I check my iPhone for work e-mails, but I don't feel guilty if I don't.

Companies are realizing that there’s great value in keeping working moms happy. We are excellent multi-taskers, can find the most efficient ways to get things done, and are very diligent with our time management. That’s not to say women without children haven’t honed these skills. But many mothers have this down to a science.

Not all who drop out of the workforce do this because they want to. Some just feel pushed out because their company didn’t value the idea that “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” By not allowing moms the ability to balance kids and work, they lose out on executives who would work harder for them because they feel valued.

I have a successful career in PR. I’m not a vice president of an agency, but am happy as a manager in a health system. I am currently president of the local chapter of my professional organization, the Dallas chapter of Public Relations Society of America. I do have it all. I just had to change the definition of what “all” is. To me it’s a job that satisfies my professional and financial needs, flexibility to do field trips with my son, and the ability to go home at the end of the day and focus on my family.

My kids aren’t perfect, my marriage has its moments, and my career is relatively successful. And that’s perfect for me.

Reace Alvarenga Smith, APR
Public Relations Manager

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