Am I doing enough?
It’s hard enough being a working mom—or a working parent—by the end of the day I’m usually hiding in an unmade bed somewhere, scarfing cookies while watching terribly trashy television like The Bachelor or The Voice and trying to find a quiet moment to myself. After 14 hours on non-stop duty from 5:00am until 7:30pm, my resilience and my willpower are depleted.
Yet I still wonder and ask myself—Am I doing enough on my business? Am I doing enough as a parent?
This is the prime time when I can go down a rabbit hole of discouragement and start that dangerous comparison game. You might know the one. When you go on Twitter and you read someone’s nifty little bio and think, dang, they are so accomplished, and you click through to their website, and you see what they’ve done and then… you also know ALL the things you still want to do and then… you feel worse.
When I go on social media, especially at night, I can end up feeling so deflated when I look at other people’s accomplishments and successes. It seems like everywhere someone is pushing through, hustling harder, or accomplishing more and I can’t keep up. Shouldn’t I be able to do it all, have it all, be it all—all in one easy breezy finish, perfectly made up?
No, stop. We need to stop this nonsense. As my college swimming coach used to tell me at every race:
Stay in your own lane.
It’s easy to compare our insides to everyone else’s outsides.
We know our own difficulty and frustration, the projects gone awry, the deadlines that were missed, the goals and hopes and dreams. Often we see other people and we assume that their outside persona is it—that the polished version of their efforts, all compiled into one fancy resume, was simpler or easier than it was. We have no idea what it took for them, nor do we know what they are currently dealing with.
Second, comparisons between apples and oranges are fruitless.*
Everyone’s version of parenting and working is different.
Some parents are working on side hustles that they only have a few hours a day to dedicate to—the Naptime CEO’s or the people with full time jobs working another project on the side.
Some parents are working full-time on their job WITH full time childcare. Some people have parents or in-laws around that watch the kids on the weekends. Some people have extra cash stored up.
In addition, every business story is variable. Some folks have piles of money from investors, and they’re building teams rapidly and pushing to scale. With millions of dollars, the team you grow and the speed you grow might be different than if you’re bootstrapping.
Every version of business, every version of parenting, is different.
If you’re working 4 hours per day or per week on your side hustle, set goals and benchmarks that are in line with 4 hours per week of work, not 40 hours or 80 hours.
If you’re building a startup from scratch with no outside funding, set goals and benchmarks for a bootstrapped business, don’t compare yourself to someone that has a million dollars to scale and build a team and enter the market more aggressively.
If you’re building a company with a newborn at home, or while you’re pregnant, set goals and benchmarks that line up with your energy and capability, don’t compare your efforts to your past self and set yourself up for intense frustration when you’re not performing the way you did when you weren’t with a small human.
If you’re suffering from burnout, exhaustion, fatigue, or you’re just interested in living a different version of your life than the one you used to live, your metrics might change accordingly. Pushing harder and working 80 hours and being exhausted might be the anti-goal of your project, not a side effect.
It’s okay to stay in your own lane.
Ask yourself what success looks like for you, right now, in this phase of your life.
Set goals and metrics for YOU, wherever you are right now. Set yourself up for a sustainable and smart business, and be wise about your choices. You don’t need to grow the biggest company or the biggest team—you get to decide what success looks like for you.
I meet and work with so many parents that tell me their goal for the first year after having a baby is simply to perform at 75% capacity and find a way to sleep again.
Many, many parents don’t feel a surge of energy until about 18 months after they welcome a child into their family. This extends for as long as your child isn’t sleeping—it takes about as long to recover from sleep deprivation as the length of time you spent exhausted (and not sleeping).
Maybe success is showing up every day and doing one thing. Maybe success is letting yourself take a half day each week to catch up on sleep because your children aren’t sleeping through the night. Maybe success is letting yourself off the hook. Maybe success is going after it because you feel ready and supported and energized to do it.
Don’t look at the woman (or man, or person) next to you and think that because they did it a certain way, you have to do that, too. You can carve your own path forward.
*Well technically apples and oranges are both fruit, so it’s not entirely fruitless, but it’s not productive, either. 🙂