Senior Consultant Lisa Powney shares some personal reflections on balancing her ambitious nature with her love of being a mum.
I have always been driven. At school I always wanted to do well, I worked hard to prove it to myself and to my family. In life, I’ve always looked for the next new thing to be part of and put great energy and passion behind whatever I’m doing.
Whether working at my uncle’s pub at the age of 14, juggling three jobs and university at 20, or now, age 43, working for Curium, I love to use my skills and will always give my whole self to the project at hand.
I’m also mum to 15-month-old ball of energy Freddie. The last 15 months have been an incredible journey. I love being a mum, but I find it hard to balance the mother in me with my ambitious nature.
Becoming a mum has been my greatest lesson and blessing in life so far. I waited a long time for him, and I can truly say I have never loved like this before; never felt so protective or ‘grown up’. Until recently, that was enough. To be a ‘present’ parent was all that mattered and everything else came a distant second.
However, in recent weeks my drive for success, my need to be a role model in life as well as a mum has reared its head. I found myself thinking, what is next for me?
I am a busy person. I love to have a lot on my plate. I strive to achieve a great number of things, and to achieve them at a high level. I love working hard, using my brain to solve creative problems, and exceed expectations.
And motherhood is rewarding and fun. It is also relentless and very much same-same from day-to-day, not to mention incredibly time consuming. Precious time spent entertaining, changing nappies, feeding and cleaning up after Freddie means there is less time to fulfil my ambition; to succeed at work. It’s an exhausting juggle!
I’m starting to realise that personal growth as a working mum has to be approached differently and it starts with acceptance.
Acceptance that in work, I will feel frustrated that I’m not always going to put myself forward for opportunities or achieve what I want to. In life, I will feel guilty that I’m not spending the time I want or feel I should spend with Freddie. Accepting this is helping me to deal with it better.
I haven’t got the answer beyond ‘acceptance’, but applying the lens of TetraMap® is helping to shape my thinking:
- I’m re-defining my goals from both a work and mum perspective, challenging myself as to whether they are realistic, understanding that it’s all about the baby steps (excuse the pun!). Taking action is vital but it’s not about changing everything overnight. Taking small steps and being prepared to review and adjust my goal as I go, is more important.
- I’m getting better at planning ahead. Life as a mum is all about juggling, so I am trying to plot in my non-negotiables first – things I will never negotiate on (e.g. parents’ evenings, hospital appointments, Freddie being poorly) and these drive my calendar. For the rest, I accept that I need to be flexible.
- I’m making new connections with mums who are in the same boat. While on maternity leave, I joined groups to find like-minded mums who have been there and understand my situation. They have now become part of my support network, which is great.
- I’m finding new ways to be inspired. With motivation to carve out at least a small time each week for myself, I joined a Couch to 5K programme and never having jogged before, I’m inspired by my progress and what I can achieve. I appreciate what this is giving me.
I’m moving forward, despite the challenge. As Freddie grows and work logistics become easier to handle, I trust that I will become more in tune with how to make it all work, for me and for my family. In a few years’ time, when Freddie is older, I hope to look back at this journey, and be proud of myself for all that I have achieved.