Are you a “type-A” working mother who used to define yourself by your career? Now that you have kids, do you feel constantly pulled by conflicting priorities? Are you most comfortable and familiar with operating at 110% but juggling work and family has you running at 220%?

One of my clients, whom we’ll call Sarah, is actively working to overcome these challenges. Forty-one years old and a vice president at a publishing house, she appears to have it all: two wonderful children, a loving husband, a rewarding job, a beautiful house and a large nest-egg for retirement.

Yet, despite these outward trappings of success, Sarah feels that she can’t be the professional or the mom that she wants to be and, as a result, she feels guilty for letting others (and herself) down. She worries that both her kids and her work suffer as a result. Exhaustion and stress have started to take a toll on her physical health, emotions and relationships.
Sarah is far from alone. Despite their significant achievements, many outwardly successful working mothers come seeking my services because they feel the same: overwhelmed, guilty and stressed.

So, the question becomes, how do you define success? A fat salary? Being a good mom? Enjoying a loving romantic partnership? Making a difference in the world? An impressive title?

At the end of the day, how you define success is very personal and no two people define it the same way.

Below is an exercise to help you get started in defining success on your own terms.

Step One:

Create and draft a compelling vision (best imagined outcome) for your career and life one year from now. Imagine your life is exactly as you'd like it to be. In one or two paragraphs, describe your ideal life.

Also, while there is no right way to do this, I recommend you find a quiet place and do ten minutes of deep breathing before you even start this exercise. It is important for you to give yourself full permission to dream without censoring or trying to figure out how you will achieve your vision.

In order for you to be clear about your vision, it is helpful for you to know what your values are; what’s truly important to you. Clarifying your values will help you discover what’s essential in your life. Values are the intangibles that drive us, inspire us, and energize us. For example, travel is not a value, but it may represent how the values of adventure and learning are expressed. Money is not a value, but it may represent how the value of freedom and a lack of want are expressed.

Here is a partial list of values to help cultivate your vision: accomplishment, beauty, adventure, creativity, family, nature, truthfulness, power, trust, security, challenge, directness, freedom, growth, leadership, service, recognition, partnership, etc. Make sure your vision aligns with your values.
Also, think about how your vision excites you. If it doesn’t scare you a little, or if you already know how to get there, you are probably thinking too small.

Here are a few questions to get you started:
- What will you be doing?
- With whom will you be spending your time?
- How will you show up in the world?
- What will your impact be?
- What will be exciting (engaging, rewarding) about that?
- How does this picture for your career and your life honor your values, and let you lead the type of life you desire?

Step Two:

Briefly describe the personal qualities you will need to bring forth to achieve your vision. (More confident? More focused? More forgiving of yourself?)

Creating your vision will help you define your priorities. Once you know what your priorities are, you’ll be better able to focus on what’s truly important to you. You may even find that you’re able to let go of some of that guilt about not being able to “do it all” or to be “everything to everyone”.

You may learn that you while you used to think you wanted it all, you choose not to have it all at the same time. Or perhaps you will discover that there are certain things that you are just not willing to sacrifice. Or you may learn that you can live more modestly with greater peace of mind. Whatever you discover, I hope you will remember that success is very personal and you’ve taken a great first step in creating a definition of success that fulfills your needs, goals, and dreams.

Author's Bio: 

Amber Rosenberg is a professional life coach who helps “Type-A” working mothers manage guilt and stress and re-define success on their own terms. After 11 years struggling to create her own work/life balance in the corporate and non-profit worlds, she is passionate about helping women actively choose how they want to spend their time. A popular speaker, Amber co-authored the book Inspiration to Realization with a chapter on “How to Manage Your Love/Hate Relationship with Time”. To sign-up for a complimentary one-on-one coaching consultation, to order a signed copy of her book or to sign-up for the Working Mothers’ free e-zine go to