How do we measure success? Well first, “what role you are measuring?”
- Your role as a parent?
- As a climber?
- Success in career?
- Success in relationships?
All of those should have different measurements for success, right?
Standard measures of success
Some would argue that as a climber, you measure success by how hard you climb. Or what routes you’ve sent. As a runner, what races have you won, or what is your personal best? In your career, the measurement is more commonly salary or title. With romantic relationships and children, our measurements get a bit more complex. Is your kid the smartest? Best behaved? Well liked? Is your spouse faithful, hardworking, a good parent?
If these are the things by which success is measured and judged in our society, why is it that we strive so hard to be successful when what we really want is to be happy? Why not measure success by happiness? In your role as a parent, are your kids happy? Are you happy? In your role as a spouse, is your partner happy? Are you? In your job or career. . .Are you, your coworkers, and your customers happy? Do you feel good about what you do or do you enjoy the work? And finally, in your role as a climber, does that route you just climbed make you happy?
We put so much stress on being the best (and I am a huge culprit of that with my strident competitiveness and Ivy League education) but we do not consider the toll that being the best takes on our happiness. Some say that if you do what you love, what makes you happy, you will find financial success – that you are good at those things that you enjoy, therefore financial rewards and public accolades follow.
A new measurement of success
As a parent, doing what you love with your kids must be better than all of the scheduled games, practices, classes and events. Unless you and your child love those things, and are happy with their scheduled evenings/weekends. What makes one child happy is completely different than another. So why do we insist on conforming to the group and miserably trying to make our child like everyone else’s?
There have been a number of recent articles dissecting the perfect mom, the stressed parent, criticizing the mom on the phone. . . talking about the end of school blues and the struggles to get through the year. The articles (or rants, as they are sometimes called) and the “counter- rants” that inevitably crop up, still don’t address why we are so judgmental as parents. . . and why we always feel so judged by others. It’s because we are being groomed to think that there is only one right way. Conform or fail.
We judge the home schooler or the over scheduled kid (look, I did it above), or the tiger mom, or the slacker. But what if that is what works for them and their kid? Similarly, we judge the sexually free woman or we judge the virginal one. . . why does it matter? Let it be what it is – if it makes them happy.
(ASIDE) Notice, I have done my best above to go with the generic “parent” instead of “mom”. Each article so far contextualizes the parenting role as solely the stress and strain on the mother. . . while mommy guilt abounds, I would argue that each of the articles linked above continues the preconceived stereotype that moms are responsible for, well, everything. The truth is that we have the power, as moms and as individuals (men, too!) to stop the cycle of self inflicted mommy guilt and just focus on not buying into the societal pressures of being successful as defined by others.
As a parent, stop judging success by the standards that others have given you and set your own. I’m not saying to get rid of all ambitions, just pointing out that all goals and measurements are not created equal. I’m not advocating complacency or mediocrity, just a perspective shift that says if your goals aren’t making you happy, SET NEW GOALS.
And, please please please, stop judging others that don’t have the same goals.
Measure Success Differently.