Success Through The Stages of Motherhood - BY Abby Herman for MotherHustle
“The more I define success by things that aren’t tangible, the more successful I am–in my own definition of the word.”

What IS “success,” anyway?

Just one definition of success is the attainment of one’s goals. Another definition is the attainment of wealth, position, honors or the like.

The thing is, what is success to me may not be success to you. It’s subjective, intangible and often ever-changing.

Back in my teens, I thought success was moving away from the home I grew up in, having cash in my pocket and “stuff” filling the walls and shelves of my house. I didn’t have many ambitions and I was rather head-in-the-clouds superficial. I don’t know where the money was going to come from, but by golly, I was going to buy all the things.

In my 20s, success was getting married, having a great job and fulfilling my dream of having three kids before I turned 30.

Yep, I still wanted all the things too, but I had credit cards to buy them all. Cash? Who needs cash? (Cue the debt.) For the record, I was done having babies before I was 30 after all and that one baby (now a teenager) is the love of my life.

Success didn’t exist for me in my 30s because I thought it was something that was entirely unattainable.

I was broke, divorced and in a job that sucked at my soul. Success was anything but where I was and what I (didn’t) have.

Now planted squarely in my 40s, success (and life, for that matter) has an entirely different meaning. It took me so long to get to this place that I’m determined to make it count. Today, success is:

  • Doing work I love, every single day
  • Growing a kind, motivated young adult who wants to make a difference in this world
  • Taking care of friends and family when they need it most
  • Being a partner to someone I love
  • Making a difference in society–whether it’s for one person or many
  • Having a roof over my head and the means to travel and enjoy myself–without worrying about how the bills are getting paid
  • Being able to spend quality time with the people who matter most in my life

It’s not about making the most money or having the most stuff. It’s not about exotic trips or being able to quit working.

It’s about making the most of the time I have left on Earth, no matter how long (or short) that is. It’s about being there for my daughter and other loved ones.

And it’s about being able to do some of the things I wasn’t able to do when I was broke, superficial and miserable.

Interestingly, the more I define success by things that aren’t tangible, the more successful I am–in my own definition of the word. Because it’s all about setting goals to be a better person tomorrow than I am today. And it has nothing to do with wealth, awards, recognition or celebrity.

Success is simply living the best I can today, tomorrow and beyond. At this stage in my life, I don’t see that changing. Someday I might add to that definition, but I’m pretty darn satisfied with the success I’ve seen thus far in my 40s.


MotherHustle panelist Abby Herman is a content strategist and content coach for small business owners, helping to get her clients’ written message out to their audience, in their own voice and on their own terms. She specializes in working with female-owned, service-based businesses to generate ideas and strategies that help to move their businesses forward with content that attracts the perfect clients. Abby firmly believes in the power of educating and empowering business owners so they can grow their businesses without breaking the bank. Community over competition is truly her jam!

When she’s not crafting words or coaching her clients through their own writing roadblocks, you can find her exploring the mountains near her home in Phoenix or finding new ways to get her teenaged daughter to take a break from the school books and technology. You can follow her on Instagram,YouTube and Facebook.

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