5 smart strategies to design a career that works for YOU

The key to having the career of your dreams is defining “success” for yourself.

5 smart strategies to design a career that works for YOU

The key to having the career of your dreams is knowing what success means to you.

And the great thing about becoming a mother, especially a working mother, is that you learn to have thick skin about what others think you “should” do and start to really figure out what you want to do.

Ready to design a career that works for you, your goals and your family? Here’s how. to get started.

1. Know all your options.

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There’s never been a better time to be a working mom. With technology and modern business cultures increasingly supporting women and men who want more flexible work, you have lots of options. Research them carefully, because you have more negotiating power than you may realize.

Some of your options at work:

—Traditional full-time work in-office (check out Fairygodboss)

—Traditional full-time work in-office, but with a flexible schedule

—Contract-based work for a specific duration of time (see Emissaries)

—Part-time work in-office

—Split in-office/work-from-home schedule

—Project-based work you complete on your own schedule

—Full-time remote work from home (see PowerToFly)

—Consultant work for various companies and/or individuals

—Freelancing in your industry, taking smaller projects as they emerge

—Mid-career internships (check out Après)

—Starting your own business

—Volunteer roles that develop professional skills if you stay at home (see The Muse)

2. Think outside the box.

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You might think you know what opportunities exist in your field, but have you really pursued all your options?

Teacher? You can make a full teaching salary from home by working with a virtual K-12 teaching platform like Proximity Learning.

Nurse? Control your schedule (and often make more money in less time) with nurse contracting jobs. (See Nurse Choice.)

Office worker? There are thousands of new companies dedicated to helping talented working moms find meaningful work on their terms. (Check out The Mom Project.)

3. Prototype your future.

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Thinking of making a change to your career, especially if you grow your family? Don’t assume your plan is exactly right. Designing Your Life authors and Stanford professors Bill Burnett and Dave Evans explain that you need to test your plan before committing to it.

Here’s how The New York Times explained it:

Central to their philosophy is prototyping, a concept borrowed from how product designers work. Let’s say you’re thinking of changing careers. Interview someone who does the job you’re considering. Better yet, ask to shadow them for a day, or work in the field on weekends. If it feels right, take it a step further; if it doesn’t, move on.

So if you’re thinking of asking to work from home, test it for a few days. If you’re thinking of going 100% freelance, take on a side project and see how you like it. You’ll learn so much more by taking small actions than by simply making assumptions of what you think will work.

One more thing to think about when you’re deciding how to integrate your family life with your professional life: Consider going back to your job after maternity leave, even for a short three-month stint. Don’t assume that you will hate working after baby—if you give yourself time to adjust, you might find a new normal that you love. Or you might discover that you’re happiest at home. But you won’t know for sure without giving it a try.

4. Create your own job.

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Can’t find exactly what you’re looking to do out on the job market? Create your own job. It’s not easy to strike out solo, but you’ll have control over your schedule, your earning power and the skills you can focus on honing.

If you begin to grow a small business, you’ll be in good company. Natalie MacNeil reports on that the number of women entrepreneurs starting businesses is at an all-time high:

Women have been starting businesses at a higher rate than men for the last 20 years and tend to create home-based micro (less than five employees) and small businesses. Women will create over half of the 9.72 million new small business jobs expected to be created by 2018, and more and more are doing this from home offices across the country.

“The glass ceiling that once limited a woman’s career path has paved a new road toward business ownership, where women can utilize their sharp business acumen while building strong family ties,” explains Erica Nicole, who left corporate America to start YFS Magazine. YES to that.

5. Define success for yourself.

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Are you working a particular job because it gives you status in the eyes of others, or because you have an idea that you need to be earning a certain salary to prove your worth? Don’t get us wrong—we love that cash money and those fancy titles. But if you’re in it just to prove something to somebody else, you’ll never be truly successful.

New motherhood is a perfect time to rethink what success really means for you.

“Many Americans think of their careers as a race and feel that if they stop to change a tire in the pit, everyone will pass you by... the virtue of having a pit stop is that you might find you’re in the wrong race,” explains Richard Shell, a professor at the Wharton School.

Want to start defining success for yourself? “It helps to map out a narrative of the decisions that you’ve made in your career so that you can revisit and overcome any limits that you’ve imposed on yourself,” Shell says. By understanding what brought you to this point, you can better understand how to begin defining success for yourself, and how to take steps in that direction.

What does success look like to you? Is it having a greater sense of purpose at work? A leadership position? Bringing home the bacon ? without a traditional 9 to 5?

This is your own wild and marvelous life. Own it.

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Create a school-ready capsule wardrobe for your kids

Dress for success whether virtual learning or in the classroom!

Tina Meeks

Going "back to school" this year may be less of a literal statement than in years past—but there is just as much reason for your kids to celebrate moving on to new grades. Just like in every new school year, a big part of the fun is refreshing your kids' wardrobe with clothes that allow them to express themselves.

Even if finding back to school clothes this year doesn't include a trip to the mall, you can still make an event of it by shopping H&M's kids collection from your computer. Pull up another chair for your shopping buddy and get the cart started with these fave capsule wardrobe options we've already scouted.

Here are our favorite picks:

A t-shirt made for play

H&M t-shirt

Call them essentials, not basics. A graphic t-shirt aces the test when it comes to being perfect for school. And because your little student will probably want to wear something that expresses their personal style as often as possible, it's great to know the shirts can stand up to school time, playtime, downtime and everything in between!


Dressed-up casual shorts for total comfort

H&M boy shorts

Whether pulling up a chair for a virtual meeting with the class or heading back to the school for in-person learning, some comfortable, yet stylish, shorts will help your kid focus on the real tasks at hand: learning—and having fun while doing it!


Layers for when seasons change

H&M sweatshirt

When it comes to feeling comfortable at school, layers are the MVPs. Whether the AC is blasting or the day started off cool and is warming up quickly, having a unique sweatshirt to shed or add will help your kid look cool while staying warm.


A bit of flair with distressed denim

H&M distressed jeans

A school staple for generations, denim is both classic and continually fashionable with updates like distressing and new wash colors. If you're shopping online for jeans this year, take note of H&M's generous return policy—your kids can try on the orders at home and return anything that doesn't fit without a trip to the store.


A fashion statement piece

H&M girls skirt

What's better than expressing yourself through a stylish outfit when school is back in session? Still feeling perfectly comfortable and ready to tackle anything the day holds while looking so good. With so many fashion-forward looks available at budget-friendly prices, H&M's children's collection means every kid can find an outfit that speaks to them.


Some comfy kicks

H&M boys shoes

A sure way to put a little pep in your child's step this year, cool and cozy shoes are a staple on all back-to-school shopping lists for good reason. (Plus, it's fun to compare them to last year's shoes to see how much your kid has grown!)


Anything-but-basic blouses

H&M girls blouse

Whether in the classroom or showing up for a video call with the class, a styling blouse or button-down shirt is a great way for your student to comfortably dress up the day. Better yet? Style doesn't have to come at the expense of comfort with so many made-to-move tops designed just for kids.


A shirt ready to go whatever the day holds

H&M boys shirt

With "going to school" meaning anything from showing up in the classroom to doing a virtual session, it's important to have clothes that are perfect for anything the day holds. A classic, cotton shirt with a fashion-forward design is a great way to keep your student feeling ready to start the year with an A+ attitude.


This article was sponsored by H&M. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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