I love this word. Ambition.
Why is that? Because it triggers so many emotions, especially conflicting
I recall suppressing laughter as my colleagues looked at me with confusion when I told them loud and clear that I’m an ambitious person. One colleague has even described me as ‘cold and calculated’, a judgment which says that I am a career-woman and not a family-woman. Does this sound familiar to you?
This description comes most probably from a misunderstanding of what I mean by ambitious. When I say I’m ambitious, I mean that I want to continue learning and developing new skills. I mean, I want to try new things, change roles within a company, work in a Non- Governmental Organisation (NGO), write about working mothers, and build my own business. These are all achievements I reached because I pursued my ambitions while also fulfilling my role as wife and mother. Some have tried to guilt trip me for that, but I’m not ashamed of my ambition.
I have three principal life ambitions:
provide a happy, sustainable lifestyle for myself and my family,
enjoy a fulfilled and impactful professional life,
and contribute to achieving gender equality.
Ambition is related not only to mastery of skills but also the recognition of what you’ve done. At the end of my life, I would like to be able to look back and acknowledge my accomplishments. I want to be proud of the family life I have built, my professional achievements, and my contribution to the gender equality cause. Of course, part of my life’s ambitions does imply a good paycheck, because how could I build a happy and sustainable lifestyle without it? It also implies that I need to achieve some level of leadership to have a fulfilled and impactful career. Nevertheless, my ambitions are related to my WHY rather than money or power.
As working mothers, we should not be afraid of being ambitious in all parts of our lives. We need to understand that our work defines who we are as much as our family and our interests. And there is no shame in that. At the same time, ambition is so different from person to person. We do not all need extravagant, complicated goals like establishing the next billion-dollar startup or writingthe next bestseller.
Your objectives do not even have to be career-related. They can be things like creating equilibrium in your family, having a job that you love, being able to afford holidays in exotic places, and having a supportive network of friends.
I would like you to take a moment to think about the following questions:
- What were your professional aspirations after you finished your education?
- And what about your personal goals then and now?
- How did your ambition evolve with time?
- Did your professional ambition change after you had children?
- If yes, what changed, and how?
- How much does your environment (family, culture, job) impact that change?
- What are you doing to cultivate your ambitions and achieve your goals?
- What are you doing to achieve your WHY?
It sounds like a lot of questions, but they are fundamental. Without a clear vision and goals in life, you will go nowhere. These questions are not only related to your professional ambitions, you can use them to think about your personal, family, societal aspirations too. Did the impact you wanted to have on the world change after you had children? What are you doing to achieve your personal goals? What were your family aspirations when you were in your twenties?
Heather McGregor, author of Mrs Moneypenny’s Career Advice for Ambitious Women writes: “There is no specific time in your career when you will need more, or less, help and support- at every age and at every stage women do better when they have the right ideas, the right focus and the right advice.”
Taking a moment to evaluate your life’s ambitions and assess what you are doing to achieve them is the starting point of a successful journey.
My professional goals did not change after my son was born. And there was a large price tag attached to it. I had to pay high childcare fees and cope with comments like, ‘How do you do all of that?’ ‘Do you ever even see your kids?’ and ‘When do you sleep?’ Now I see that my husband made all the difference. He is way more involved in family and house activities than the average man. For my kids, their dad is emotionally, operationally, and financially just as supportive as me.
Realizing the uniqueness of my approach is the reason why I have start researching about this topic and finish to write a book, Ambition Factor. My goal is to provide options and show how other women face the challenge of being an ambitious working parent today.