Victoria traveled the road of corporate success. With her hard work and diligence, she achieved seniority and was very well compensated. While pregnant, she started a blog titled Philly Baby Bump. The blog highlights local resources in the Greater Philadelphia region. It helps expectant moms navigate pregnancy, maternity leave, and life after baby. The blog took off. In a short amount of time, it became one of the Philadelphia’s most popular blogs.
After the birth of her daughter, Victoria returned to work. Like it happens to many parents, her return to work didn’t have the same allure it once had. Victoria’s story resonates with me. If I had to locate this feeling on a map, I could put a pin exactly on the location. Giving life to a human adds a very complex layer to your life. Your perspective shifts in a way that rearranges your expectations and priorities. For Victoria, these shifts created a desire to consider a different path for her career. She decided to leave the corporate world behind and pursue her blog.
I speak with Victoria over video conference. We’ve hushed our voices for the sake our little ones’ nap times. Both of us, sitting in our respective home offices, are able to work when the children sleep. We quickly set a rhythm that feels so natural. Like talking to an old friend you haven’t seen in years, and you haven’t skipped a beat. Occasionally, the hushed exchange has bursts of laughter. We glance past our monitors to make sure the little ones didn’t wake. This is how we master the side hustle and have fun at the same time. It’s how we mompreneurs “live dangerously.”
It is brave to make the leap from the safety net of corporate life to pursue your dreams. This move demonstrates self-love and respect. Often we lean towards a more traditional path to find success. A few months after leaving, Victoria wrote her first book, The Insider’s Guide to Maternity Leave. Her perseverance is unrelenting despite challenges to this bold new way of working. She is developing a new project titled: Activate Purpose.
Challenge yourself to focus on self-careStacy: I connected with something you said in one of your blogs about focusing on what brings you “joy.” What has that journey been like for you? Because from my own experience, it takes a lot of hard work to maintain that focus. You have to be vigilant at all times. What happens when you fall back into old habits? How do you bring yourself back to “joy?”
Victoria: I learned to be deliberate with my actions. With that mindset, when I need to complete something I prioritize myself in a manner that has no strings attached. If I need my husband to do the dishes, I ask. No strings attached.
Being deliberate also means I arrange time and space for myself. I wake up every day at 5:00 AM and use that time for myself. Whether it is yoga or writing, it is only me time. The benefits of this practice have a positive impact on the family as well. I am more productive at work. I find that I have more patience with my daughter, and I am more adaptable throughout the day.
Of course, my days aren’t seamless and without chaos. I’m sure you get to the end of the week and when you ask yourself “what did I do this week?” The answer is often a head scratch and silence. I knew I was working so hard in this transition, but I felt a little confused by my own empty answer to that question. So, I decided to start a ‘Victory Log’ for myself. I learned about the concept in this book I read called The Success Principles. At the end of every day, I write down a few bullet points about a victory for that day. Let’s see here… My daughter ate noodles last night. Noodles that I cooked! VICTORY!
Stacy: You are raw on your blog about being a full-time mom and entrepreneur. You write about yourself and family. Can it feel weird to be so open about your personal life? How do you create your real-life stories on the page?
Victoria: I remember feeling terrified as I stared at the “Publish” button when I wrote the first Philly Baby Bump blog. I am my own worst critic, but I try to silence that. When we take our challenges and share them with others that is the real experience of creating a community. People connect with genuine experiences. Don’t let traditional criteria drive your version of success.
Stacy: Are you still afraid of writing?
Victoria: Writing has been a journey of perseverance, I am fighting the inner critic. It has led me down a new path though, and I’m excited about it. It didn’t always feel “right” to call myself a writer, even after writing a book. Well, I am pushing myself to get past this. I decided to take a writing class. I found that there were a few areas where I needed to push myself out of my comfort zone. When I decided that I was going to own this process, I realized it was a great journey to share.
So, I’ve started a podcast series called Activate Purpose, where I focus on addressing the challenges of trying to “find my purpose” while juggling the realities of career and motherhood. I realize we can all learn to do a task or a job, but I’m interested in discovering what I am passionate about. It’s an inverse self-discovery journey. I find myself digging into my childhood to think about things I enjoyed doing.
Stacy: You’ve transitioned from a steady corporate paycheck to a startup entrepreneur salary. You are working as hard, if not harder than before. Sometimes as a new entrepreneur, you cannot contribute to the family pot like before, at least not right out of the gate. Was this a sticking point for you?
Victoria: First, I want to say it’s a myth that you need to start your own business to be happy. But, absolutely, It was scary at first to take this leap! I was raised by a strong woman who methodically implanted this work ethic to be self-sufficient and provide for oneself. Now, I help provide for my family that includes a baby! It was intimidating, and scary to take a step in this direction. But, I knew what I wanted. This transition became a question of, “What am I willing to sacrifice to achieve it?” I am fortunate to have an incredibly supportive husband and equal partner in this adventure.
Stacy: What are some of the sacrifices that you had to make?
Victoria: I realized what had value, and “stuff” did not have value. I like nice things, expensive food, nice vacations. When I realized those things had little value when it came to the bottom line of measuring my happiness, the sacrifice was easy. I’m a minimalist in many ways. The changes we were making are far more uncomfortable for other people than they were for us.
We found so much happiness in getting rid of material distractions and everyone else was confused by the process! The other realization I had was I did not have to make a sacrifice between work and being a mother. I have both, and I am comfortable with the balance that I created.
Stacy: How has this journey of entrepreneurship made you a better mom? A better wife? A better business person?
Victoria: I am ruthless with my time. I mentioned earlier that I am more deliberate and direct with my needs. All my priorities and perspectives shifting required more productivity from me. What little time I have, I need to make the most of it. Like all the stuff I got rid of around my house, I have also uncluttered my life from things that are not a good use of my time or my family’s time. I do my meditations and journaling first thing in the morning. When I take that hour for me, I find what’s in my head. I get to myself FIRST thing in the morning, not at the end of the day. When I am there for me first, I am then present for my daughter, my husband, and my work.
There are so many benefits that are measurable, and some are not. I can definitely say I am happier. A different part of my brain every day is put to use. I tackle everything from designing logos to the bookkeeping. I’m multidimensional. I realize it’s not fair to pigeon yourself in one role and one job. Oddly enough though, I’m doing LESS but I’m gaining MORE by not spreading myself thin.
What can we learn from Victoria’s perseverance?
Everyone has a different path, but you have to be open to experience, even if it is scary. The journey may seem random, but know that it is not. Make preparations the best you can in order to make the leap. When you are ready, take ownership of your work life. Perseverance is often about trusting your skills and abilities to figure things out. It is a leap of faith in yourself.
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