5 game-changing moves you can make to advance your career now

Being a working mother is all about balancing priorities.

Sometimes home and work responsibilities have us running so hard that we forget to take a step back to think about the big picture, and specifically, to examine what we’re doing to move our career forward. Moreover, motherhood sometimes causes us to re-think our goals and desires.

So take a moment (or even a day off for yourself!) to take a pulse check.

If you realize you’re not learning anymore or engaged to your full potential, it’s usually a clear sign that you should push yourself to start seeking out the next level.

What is the next level? And how should you get to it?

No matter what the competing priorities, these are five steps you should make time to think about so your career continues to advance.

1. Identify your goal and dream big

Take the time to really hone in on your long-term career goal. Where would you like to be in 20 years? Don’t worry—you’re not etching it in stone. You may decide to change this goal the next time you do your career planning. But it’s important to have a clear idea of your destination so you can plot out your journey.

Whatever your career goal, make sure you answer the call of your highest ambitions in selecting it. As Richard Branson says, “if you’re dreams don’t scare you, they are too small.” Often, women can talk themselves out of their highest goals—suffering from what has been called a “confidence gap.”

Don’t fall victim. Be your own supporter, not a critic.

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2. Create a roadmap for your career, and do your research

Once you have identified a clear and strong goal, map out a potential path that you could get you there. Again, this will most definitely change. But just like you would do for any business project, a plan-of-action is critical.

How can you get from Point A (where you stand today) to Point B i.e., your career goal? What skills or experiences will you need? What relationships will you need to build? To figure out the path that might get you where you want to go, take to the time to learn how others have succeeded. Use research tools—such as Levo or Fairygodboss—to be connected to successful women how have achieved in similar roles and fields so you can get a realistic picture of what traits are valued in your dream job.

And don’t be afraid to enlist a career coach. It’s absolutely a worthwhile investment. You can find one that’s right for you online, using a site like The Muse or Daily Worth.

3. Solicit honest feedback about your strengths and shortcomings

It can be difficult and humbling to ask for feedback and here about where you need to improve. However, everyone needs to improve at something. Collecting honest and direct feedback from your boss or someone else you respect will certainly help you strengthen your value proposition as a professional.

So don’t be shy. Think of it as working out at the gym. It can feel painful...but the only way to get stronger—or in this case better at your profession—is to figure out where the weakness lies and work to improve it.

4. Read a lot—get smart about your “specialty”

Find an emerging, topical area of your industry our business that interests you and get

super-smart about it. Become an expert. For example, if you work in marketing, carve out a specific vehicle or social platform and become fluent in it. That way, you can become known as the person who knows everything about x.These days, there are lots of great online resources that allow you to take digital courses in many areas. For example, check out General Assembly for courses on everything from web development to data science to digital marketing.

Be loud and proactive about what you’ve learned. Tweet about it. Blog about it. Schedule meetings with leaders you admire and present your findings to them about it. Figure out a way to use your speciality to help drive your company’s performance.

This will help heighten your reputation around the company and get you noticed when you otherwise might not have been.

5. Network a lot

Whoever said “getting ahead is all about who you know” was absolutely right. Build a network of advocates and supporters who have seen what you are capable of. Work hard to meet new people who can help advise you.

And when you’ve networked—don’t be afraid to ask for what you need. Recently, the President of NYSE wrote a piece for Fortune Magazine called “I owe every job I’ve ever had to networking.” Men traditionally tend to be much more comfortable asking for help. You owe it to yourself to be aggressive and brazen in building out your network. Don’t get shy because someone has a big title.

It can be so difficult to try to manage a day job, family, and out-of-work responsibilities together with the third leg of the stool—which is continuous advancement of your career. However, if you keep a regular focus on these five things, you will surely move ahead quickly and achieve that big dream.

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One of our main goals as mothers is to encourage our children to learn, grow and play. They start out as our tiny, adorable babies who need us for everything, and somehow, before you know it, they grow into toddlers with ideas and opinions and desires of their own.

You may be hearing a lot more of "I do it!" or maybe they're pushing your hand away as a signal to let you know, I don't need your help, Mama. That's okay. They're just telling you they're ready for more independence. They want to be in charge of their bodies, and any little bit of control their lives and abilities allow.

So, instead of challenging your toddler's desire for autonomy, we found five of our favorite products to help encourage independence—and eliminate frustration in the process.

EKOBO Bamboo 4-piece kid set

EKOBO bamboo 4-piece kid set

This colorful set includes a plate, cup, bowl and spoon and is just right for your child's meal experience. Keep them in an easy-to-reach cabinet so they'll feel encouraged (and excited!) to get their own place setting each time they eat.


Puj PhillUp hangable kids cups

Puj PhillUp hangable kids cups

Before you know it, your little one will be asking (okay, maybe demanding) to fill their own water cups. This amazing 4-pack of cups attaches directly to the fridge (or any glass, metal, tile or fiberglass surface) making it easier for your child to grab a cup themselves. Just be sure a water pitcher or dispenser is nearby, and—boom!—one task off your plate.


Wise Elk puzzle tower blocks

Wise Elk puzzle tower blocks

These beautiful blocks, made from sustainably-sourced wood and water-based, non-toxic, lead-free paint, will keep your little one focused on their creation while they're also busy working on their fine-motor skills. The puzzle design will encourage patience as your kiddo creates their own building, fitting one block in after the next.


Lorena Canals basket

Lorena Canals Basket

This *gorgeous* braided cotton basket is the perfect, accessible home for their blocks (and whatever else you want to hide away!) so your kiddo can grab them (and clean them up) whenever their heart desires.


BABYBJÖRN step stool

BABYBJ\u00d6RN Step Stool

Your kiddo might be ready to take on the world, but they might need an extra boost to do so—cue, a step stool! An easy-to-move lightweight stool is the must-have confidence-boosting tool you need in your home so your growing tot can reach, well... the world.


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


When expecting a baby, there is a lot you can test-run in advance: Take that stroller around the block. Go for a spin with the car seat secured in place. Learn how to use the baby carrier with help from a doll. But breastfeeding? It's not exactly possible to practice before baby's arrival.

The absence of a trial makes it all the more important to prepare in other ways for breastfeeding success—and it can be as simple as adding a few of our lactation aiding favorites to your registry.

MilkBliss chocolate chip soft baked lactation cookies

MilkBliss lactation cookies

Studies have shown the top reason women stop breastfeeding within the first year is because they are concerned about their milk supply being enough to nourish baby. Consider MilkBliss Lactation Cookies to be your secret weapon. Not only are they wholesome and delicious, but they were formulated specifically for breastfeeding moms based on the science of galactagogues—also known as milk boosters. They also come in peanut butter and wild blueberry flavors.


Evereden multi-purpose healing balm

Evereden multipurpose healing balm

Also up there on the list of reasons women stop breastfeeding: the toll the early days can take on nipples. Made from just five ingredients, this all natural healing balm is ideal for soothing chafed nipples, making for a much more comfortable experience for mama as her body adjusts to the needs of a breastfeeding baby.


Lansinoh milk storage bags

Lansinoh milk storage bags

For a breastfeeding mama, there are few things more precious and valuable than the milk she worked so hard to pump—and it's the stuff of nightmares to imagine it spilling out in the fridge. With these double-sealed milk storage bags, you can be assured your breastmilk is safe and sound until baby needs it.


Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Nursing a baby is a 24/7 job, which calls for some wardrobe modifications. Because Belly Bandit specializes in making things more comfortable for the postpartum mama, they've truly thought of every detail—from the breathable fabric to the clips that can be easily opened with one hand.


boob-ease soothing therapy pillows

Boob Ease soothing therapy pillows

For nursing moms, duct can quickly become a four-letter word when you suspect it's getting clogged. By keeping these soothing breast pillows in your breastfeeding arsenal, you can immediately go on the defense against plugged milk ducts by heating the pads in the microwave or cooling them in the freezer.


Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

A unfortunate reality of nursing is that it can really seem to limit the wardrobe options when you have to think about providing easy, discrete access. But by adding functional basics to your closet, you can feel confident and prepared for breastfeeding on the go.


Bebe au Lait premium cotton nursing cover

Bebe au Lait cotton nursing cover

Nursing in public isn't every mama's cup of tea. But babies can't always wait until you've found a private place to get down to business if that's your preference. That's where a nursing cover comes in handy. This one is made from premium cotton and features a patented neckline that allows for airflow and eye contact even while you're covered.


Lactation Lab basic breastmilk testing kit

Lactation Lab breastmilk testing kit

Curious to learn more about the liquid gold you're making, mama? The testing kit from Lactation Labs analyzes your breast milk for basic nutritional content like calories and protein, as well as vitamins, fatty acids and environmental toxins to help boost your breastfeeding confidence.


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this


Our list of 100 baby names that should be on everyone's list this year includes more choices than in the past of names that are obscure and surprising. That's because there are so many more unusual baby names coming into widespread use and baby namers have become a lot more adventurous.

Expectant parents do not need to be told to move beyond Jennifer and Jason. Their thinking about names has evolved to the point that the most useful thing we can do is offer a large menu of intriguing choices.

Here are our picks for the 100 best surprising + unusual baby names now.

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