Life is not linear, your career path isn't either. There are moments of 'plateau' and that's OK, so how do you navigate the different phases in your career?
I come from a very traditional Cuban background, yet my parents were progressives in the idea of education for women, especially my traditional father. In education, he encouraged me to go far and be the best. Use the power of education and gaining knowledge as a way to create my own path. He could be contradictory in this, as he also believed in traditional gender roles and the "need" to be married, plus he wanted grandchildren! Yet formal education was very encouraged.
In my 20's I was in undergrad, then graduate school, then working as a staff counselor in a hospital and then an agency. Then I finally went on my own. I was on a clear mission. By the age of 30, I was starting private practice, yet my 30's also hit my "biological clock." One I knew existed but one that I had not tuned into much. I remarried during that time and "suddenly" felt the strong urge to reproduce, and I have my first daughter as I am launching my own practice. It was a culture shock for sure. My 30's goes in a blur, with my 2nd child, my practice growing and trying to "do it all.” All this with my "progressive" parents now wanting me to be more of a mom instead of a businesswoman.
And when I didn't, or couldn't, do it all and do it "perfectly," there were many days of Imposter Syndrome taking root and dragging me through the mud! It was exhausting.
That being said, I encourage young women these days to pace themselves, to enjoy the moment as they set flexible professional goals. I remind them that they can enjoy each stage of their lives without losing themselves. I try to help them create the time and space for reflection within the hecticness of parenting. I encourage them to believe that they can dream, start some pre-planning for their Self goals now, even if they are or will be ready to launch later. I also encourage them to ask for help, to create a tribe, that can be a bridge to their next professional level while they are enjoying having their kids.
We can have our dreams turn into a purposeful and satisfying reality, just not all at once. It is not sustainable…and that is perfectly OK!