Adrift, Frustrated, and Confused: Life Changing Lessons From a Working Parent’s Tumultuous Journey

F*&#% is the only word that rang through my head as I stood in heels, in winter rain, in the parking spot where my car was supposed to be. My 18-month-old strapped to my body. It’s February, 2018. 10-months ago, I left my comfortable and familiar job at HubSpot having been counseled by mentors that my career was plateauing. As the rain poured down on me (and my child), my mind raced questioning every life decision that I had ever made. 

You ask, how did this happen? Well, I was caught in the midst of life imbalance juggling the requirements of my job and the needs of my child, like so many working parents. It was the middle of the day and to run (literally) from Downtown Boston to Cambridge to pickup my 18 month old who required occupational therapy to help her learn how to walk. Not having parking at work, I had left my car in a parking lot that my daycare had told me would be safe to leave my car. Sadly they had failed to tell me there was a specific part of the lot to park in and my car was towed. 

I tried to explain all of this to the man on the phone who had towed my car but he doesn’t care. He also doesn’t care that he has my car seat and keeps telling me to grab an Uber, which is an impossibility, given seat belt laws and the 18-month old who is strapped to my body. 

I felt like I had no options and no hope. I had gone from loving my old job to hating my new one, and the confidence that I used to have was shot. To make matters worse, I was so maxed out from the work-life imbalance that I couldn’t enjoy time with my amazing family. Sound familiar?

Fast forward, I’m extremely fortunate that 2 years later, my life is in a dramatically different place. But it’s important to ask, how did my life get so off track? 

Mistake #1, What were my values? 

I listened to the advice of others without accounting for my own values. I was getting advice, not coaching. When a new opportunity presented itself that was not the right fit, I wasn’t ready to evaluate the tradeoffs that I would have to make. By being focused on taking a step up in my career I didn’t realize that I was going away from my current job and hadn’t fully speck’d out what I was going towards.

Mistake #2, What were my options?

I didn’t explore all my options. It’s easy to tell ourselves that we have explored all of our options, but if you list out your options and there is nothing on that list that is a true “wild idea”, then you haven’t fully explored your options. It’s often the wildest ideas that help us realize our most valuable and creative solutions.

Mistake #3, What were my resources?

I didn’t have the right resources. I thought I was lucky and well equipped because I found a bunch of great mentors who I could occasionally talk to. But I didn’t understand the difference between mentorship and coaching. Mentors are great, they can give excellent under the right circumstances, but what I needed was a coach. Someone who could help me identify my values and goals and ask me critical questions to help me find my own answers.

While it may seem easy to look backwards and critique my errors by being mindful, I can recognize my mistakes and prevent this from happening again. If you are reading this and recognize yourself in this story, start by getting square with these 3 questions to guide you to your better path.

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