Join our FREE live Masterclass: Repairing with Your Child After You Lose Your Cool
Register Here!
Join our FREE live Masterclass: Repairing with Your Child After You Lose Your Cool
Register Here!

May 6, 2024

May 1, 2024

Busting the Dream Job Myth: How Moms Can Find Fulfillment at Work and Embrace Career Growth

E:
223
with
Lauren McGoodwin
CEO of Career Contessa

WHAT YOU’LL LEARN

  • Why We Often Experience Career Disappointment
  • How Millennial Moms Are Set Up for Career Struggles
  • The Myth of the “Dream Job” and How It Impacts Our Careers
  • Why Motherhood Often Makes Us Question Our Careers
  • Working Mom Struggles We Often Face
  • Breaking Away from the “Dream Job” Myth
  • “Power Moves” and How to Become Proactive

I hear from moms every day who feel frustrated in their careers. To some degree, this is expected—so many of us feel pressured to work as if we don’t have children and mother as if we don’t work. 

Between unrealistic expectations and the massive weight of the invisible load (which falls to moms even when we work full-time jobs or outearn our partners), it’s a one-way ticket to burnout. 

But the more I speak with moms, the more that I have realized the real struggles working moms face go beyond overwhelm or even the weight of the invisible load. For so many moms, motherhood kickstarts a desire for something different something more in their careers. 

And for millennial moms who were often raised to chase the “dream job,” this can feel very uncomfortable. 

Gender norms, social expectations, and motherhood all become wrapped up in our identities, often leaving us questioning our career paths. But perhaps the answer starts with breaking away from the idea of a “dream job” and focusing instead on empowering ourselves to make active decisions driven by our internal values. 

Today, I’m joined by Lauren McGoodwin, CEO of Career Contessa, to discuss how women and mothers face barriers in the workplace and how they can start creating power moves to achieve real career fulfillment. 

Why We Often Experience Career Disappointment

Like so many of us, Lauren began her career path with determination, searching for the “dream job” that would bring her happiness, fulfillment, and passion. She moved, pivoted her career, and tried to find her place in the workforce, but even after landing a “good job,” she immediately realized this wasn’t what she wanted to do. 

This took her on a journey of analyzing careers, “dream jobs,” workplace goals, and ultimately took her into recruiting, where she became fascinated with the unique barriers women faced in the workplace. 

Ultimately, Lauren founded Career Contessa to provide a space for women to connect, share their experiences, and support each other through the ups and downs of their career journeys.

Lauren shared that in her experience so many women enter their careers with an external checklist in mind—go to college, graduate, land a high-paying job with benefits. But when checking off the boxes doesn’t bring the happiness or fulfillment they are looking for, they experience a disconnect. 

We really need to be turning within, rather than looking at what we’re “supposed” to do

She theorizes that this happens because we often don’t know what we want when we’re young. And yet, we’re told to choose our career paths early on. So we start to look externally for something to tell us what it is that we really want to do with our lives. The external goals become easier to check off.

But she believes that we really need to be turning within to understand our own passion and values, rather than looking at what we’re “supposed” to do. 

How Millennial Moms Are Set Up for Career Struggles

The millennial generation in particular struggles with this because of the way we were raised. Many of us were brought up to be high achievers and told that we could do anything we set our minds to. 

If we did well in school, people expected a lot of us. And because many of us were also people-pleasers, we often thought about what would look good or sound good in terms of career aspirations. 

We were taught to be ambitious, to be “go-getters,” and to search for our dream jobs. Women were raised with the idea that we can, and should “do it all.” 

Lauren said that we were a generation who was told we could be anything, but we heard that we have to be everything. She believes that millennials, especially women, were ultimately put on a path toward career disappointment. 

We were a generation who was told we could be anything, but we heard that we have to be everything

We were taught to check boxes and achieve more and push ourselves further. And when we arrive at our careers, everything changes. For the first time, we’re in an unscheduled environment with no clear direction. 

Careers are very different than school. They aren’t always constantly evolving to the next level. They don’t come with coaches or teachers or guidance. And they don’t come with report cards or levels of proven achievement. 

This, combined with the idea that our “dream jobs” are supposed to feel a certain way, can leave us questioning our jobs and careers, even if we might actually be in the right place. 

The Myth of the “Dream Job” and How It Impacts Our Careers

Lauren said that the idea of a “dream job” is a myth we have been sold—an image of work that is not just a job, but a fulfilling career that brings us purpose and passion, pays well, doesn’t have a terrible commute or a toxic boss or co-workers, that we wake up excited to go to. 

When we’re told that this unrealistic picture actually exists, it makes us question our jobs if we don’t love every single aspect. It also makes us feel as if it’s our fault if we don’t feel that way—and that we should just go keep searching for that dream job. 

She said that this keeps us in a “grass is greener” mindset, always thinking about where we are going to go next. 

The irony of the dream job myth is that it keeps us from being happy at work. 

But she pointed out that the irony of the dream job myth is that it keeps us from being happy at work. We never actually reach the pinnacle of “dream job.” And because we’re always searching, we end up missing out on real growth opportunities and the chance to become impactful, valuable employees where we are. 

Lauren said this can even contribute to workplace burnout because we don’t feel that we are making an impact, or we don’t recognize the value we bring to the table. 

Why Motherhood Often Makes Us Question Our Careers

When all of these pre-existing factors for millennials and career frustration are in place, motherhood is often the catalyst that pushes us over the edge. 

We become different people and often start reevaluating many aspects of our lives. And that internal work—which Lauren believes is actually what we should use to guide our career decisions in the first place—is hard. 

Lauren said that it’s harder to look inward than to try to check boxes. There’s no grade or clear direction or getting a certificate at the end of something. It can feel like the progress isn’t as clear or linear. But the internal work is much more rewarding. 

We can pivot from the idea of “dream job” to a “good enough job” that doesn’t ask us to give up our lives for work. 

She said that it’s helpful to pivot from the idea of a “dream job” to a “good enough job,” which she defines as one that doesn’t ask us to give up our life for work. 

When we have healthy hobbies, passions outside of work, and strong relationships with our families and friends, we might not put as much pressure on ourselves to have that “dream job” that defines our identity. 

This can feel hard—especially in a society that tells us to focus all of our passion, attention, time, and energy on our children. But allowing ourselves space to rediscover who we are in motherhood is important. 

Working Mom Struggles We Often Face

For many moms, working can feel like a complicated issue. Even the choice to work or not work isn’t always clear-cut or within our power. 

Many moms are pressured to return to work before they are ready or aren’t offered paid leave. Many moms feel pressured to sacrifice their careers or put their work on the back burner to stay home with children. Many moms stay home with children when they wish they could return to work but it doesn’t make financial sense to do so. Many moms look for part-time or flexible work. Others want to work full-time, and are able to, but might find themselves wanting to pivot or change. 

Even the choice to work or not work isn’t always clear-cut or within our power. 

We can’t always control these aspects of work in motherhood. But for those of us who are in a place where we are able to make choices, searching inward for our needs and understanding what it is that we are seeking can be very valuable. 

Lauren shared that one of her podcast guests once said, “the grass is greener wherever you water it.” This can apply to not seeking the “dream job,” and instead cultivating value and a positive relationship with the job you have. But it can also apply to work and motherhood. 

She said that we can often find ways to fulfill our professional values or maintain our career skills even if we aren’t working full-time jobs, especially in the online work world. 

For example, she pointed out that if we are in a season of life where our career is on the backburner, but we still want to keep our skills sharp, we might volunteer in our children’s class and strengthen our networking skills. Or perhaps a side hustle or fractional consulting work is a possibility. 

Even if those things aren’t possible, then it might look like visualizing what your career would look like if you could return to work. This can help us through the chapter of life we are in, even if it isn’t where we ultimately want to be. 

Breaking Away from the “Dream Job” Myth

Lauren said that one great way to start breaking away from the “dream job” myth and determining what we truly want is to think about our trade-offs and our non-negotiables. 

No job is perfect—there are always going to be trade-offs. But we can focus on what is most important to us. 

That might be flexibility in schedule or working from home while our children are young. Or it might be having on-site childcare. For some of us, it might be physically going into the office to provide a clear separation between work and home. 

No job is perfect—there are always going to be trade-offs.

It’s important to remember that our top priorities when it comes to work can change with each chapter of life—and that’s okay. What is most important to us when our children are little might not be the same later down the line. We can always re-evaluate and make decisions based on our evolving values, our priorities, and our season of life. 

This also applies to what works for us, or doesn’t work, within the home. We have often been unintentionally conditioned to prioritize our partner’s time or to deprioritize our own, especially as moms. We often find ourselves defaulted into mental labor or becoming the go-to to take off work for doctor’s appointments, field trips, and other events. 

We might need to revisit the distribution of labor, have open conversations about the mental load and who is juggling what, and talk about pick-ups, drop-offs, and who is taking off for sick days. These conversations can change over time, and they are important to revisit frequently. 

It can be hard for us to break patterns, but we can push back on gendered default roles and assumptions and discover what works for us and our family. 

“Power Moves” and How to Become Proactive

Both at work and at home, Lauren encourages all moms to start embracing “power moves,” or actions and behaviors driven by being proactive rather than reactive. 

We usually make career moves as a reaction to something—like losing our job, a negative relationship with a boss or co-worker, or even a promotion. But Lauren believes in playing a more proactive role in our career development, thinking about intentional career growth, financial moves, conversations about promotions or raises. 

Power moves also include looking for learning opportunities and having a growth mindset about your professional development. 

These power moves don’t always have to be big. It can be as simple as not allowing yourself to be interrupted in a meeting, or setting a boundary at home that allows you to prioritize a work project. 

Little power moves are stepping stones that can lead to bigger change

Lauren said that the little power moves are stepping stones that can lead to bigger change, more fulfillment, and greater happiness in our careers and personal lives. 

There is often some level of discomfort when we start down this path. But Lauren said we shouldn’t shy away from that discomfort. Lauren said that we can view this discomfort like a quarterback who sometimes has to stay in the pocket a little bit longer to execute something big. If we can tolerate a little discomfort, something better might be waiting on the other side. 

The more we start to embrace power and become proactive for our own needs, our own values, and our own growth, the more comfortable we become. 

Struggling to prioritize your time or cope with the pressures of being a working mom? Book a FREE 15 minute virtual consult with a mom therapist today!

NEWSLETTER

Subscribe to our newsletter and stay updated.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Tags:

Working Moms, Values, Millennials Moms

Stage:

Postpartum, Motherhood

Share Now:

OUR GUEST

Lauren McGoodwin
CEO of Career Contessa

Lauren McGoodwin is Career Contessa’s CEO, #1 power move advocate, and has a life mission to help women build successful and fulfilling careers on their terms. Career Contessa now helps over 3 million women each year with their careers through content, online learning courses, and job listings.

Lauren has a Bachelor's in Education from University of Oregon and a Master’s in Communication Management from USC where she wrote her thesis on millennial women and career resources.

Erica Djossa
Erica Djossa
PMH-C | Founder of Momwell
Erica is the founder of Momwell, providing educational resources and virtual therapy for moms. She is a mom of three boys and a registered psychotherapist. Erica’s work has been featured in the Toronto Star, Breakfast Television, Scary Mommy, Medium, Pop Sugar, and Romper. how they want it.
RELATED ARTICLES
April 29, 2024
April 24, 2024
Understanding and Implementing Responsive Parenting: How to Break the Yelling/Shame Cycle
E:
222
with
Dr. Cindy Hovington
Founder of Curious Neuron
April 22, 2024
April 17, 2024
How to Maintain Friendships (and Make Friends) as a Mom
E:
221
with
Danielle Bayard Jackson
Author
April 15, 2024
April 10, 2024
How Stressed Moms Can Cope: Understanding and Breaking Out of the Stress Cycle
E:
220
with
Amelia Nagoski
Co-author of Burnout
March 25, 2024
March 20, 2024
How Partners Can Share in the Invisible Load and Reduce Mental Labour for Moms
E:
217
with
Zach Watson
Content Creator and Invisible Labor Educator for Men
April 1, 2024
March 6, 2024
Overcoming Unwanted Intrusive Thoughts About Baby: The Role of Stress, Anxiety, and Anger
E:
215
with
Dr. Caroline Boyd
Clinical Psychologist
March 25, 2024
February 28, 2024
How to Embrace Career Change as a Mom: Finding Your Passion and Overcoming Guilt
E:
214
with
Jess Galica
Career and Leadership Coach, Best-Selling Author
March 11, 2024
February 14, 2024
Rekindling Your Sex Life After Baby: Communication Is Key
E:
212
with
Vanessa & Xander Marin
bestselling authors & hosts of the podcast Pillow Talks
February 26, 2024
January 31, 2024
Postpartum Rage vs. Parental Anger: How Social Expectations Create Overwhelmed Moms
E:
210
with
Dr. Ashurina Ream
Founder and CEO of Psyched Mommy, licensed clinical psychologist
April 25, 2024
January 24, 2024
You’re Not an Angry Mom: Why We Experience Mom Rage (and What We Can Learn From It)
E:
209
with
Minna Dubin
Author of Mom Rage: The Everyday Crisis of Modern Motherhood
February 20, 2024
January 17, 2024
What Causes Mommy Brain? The Role of the Invisible Load on Forgetfulness and Brain Fog
E:
208
with
Dr. Jodi Pawluski
neuroscientist, psychotherapist and author
February 20, 2024
January 3, 2024
How Parents Can Avoid Information Overload: Maintaining Confidence in Our Decision-Making
E:
206
with
Cara Goodwin
Licensed Clinical Psychologist
February 20, 2024
December 6, 2023
Navigating Different Sex Drives in Parenthood: What Impacts Libido and How to Reconnect
E:
202
with
Dr. Lauren Fogel Mersy & Dr. Jennifer Vencill
Licensed Psychologists and Authors
February 20, 2024
November 29, 2023
Prioritizing the Invisible Load of Motherhood: Valuing Our Own Time and Letting Go of Mental Labor
E:
201
with
Whitney Casares
Founder and CEO of Modern Mommy Doc
February 20, 2024
November 22, 2023
Erica’s Husband Reflects on Sharing the Invisible Load
E:
200
with
Frenel Djossa
Erica’s Husband & Co-Founder of Momwell
February 20, 2024
November 15, 2023
Breaking Generational Trauma Cycles: Healing Our Past and Moving Forward in Motherhood
E:
199
with
Dr. Mariel Buqué
Psychologist and the author of the book Break the Cycle: A Guide to Healing Intergenerational Trauma
February 20, 2024
November 8, 2023
Is There Such a Thing as Healthy Perfectionism? Reframing the Concept of “Perfect” in Motherhood
E:
198
with
Katherine Morgan Schafler
Psychotherapist and author
February 20, 2024
November 1, 2023
Breaking Out of the Default Parent Role: How to Communicate with Your Partner and Change Patterns
E:
197
with
Erin & Stephen Mitchell
Founders of Couples Counseling for Parents
February 20, 2024
October 18, 2023
Rebuilding Connection and Intimacy After Baby: How Family Systems Can Help Us Navigate Relationship Challenges
E:
195
with
Aaron Steinberg
Co-Founder of Babyproofing Your Relationship
February 20, 2024
October 11, 2023
Embracing the 7 Types of Rest: Why Moms Are Exhausted and What Actually Helps
E:
194
with
Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith
Board-Certified internal medicine physician and award-winning author
February 20, 2024
October 4, 2023
Interpreting Newborn Hunger Cues and Sleepy Signs: How to Learn Your Baby’s Needs
E:
193
with
Sharon Mazel
Author of Bite-Sized Parenting: Your Baby’s First Year
February 20, 2024
September 27, 2023
Understanding Overfunctioning in Relationships: How to Change Dynamics After Baby
E:
192
with
Dr. Tracy Dalgleish
Clinical Psychologist and Relationship Expert
February 20, 2024
September 20, 2023
Managing Mom Anxiety: Why Millennial Moms Are So Anxious and How to Overcome Our Fears
E:
191
with
Dr. Lauren Cook
Licensed Clinical Psychologist
February 20, 2024
September 13, 2023
Embracing Power as Moms: Reshaping Dynamics In and Out of the Home
E:
190
with
Claire Shipman
NYT Bestselling Author
February 20, 2024
September 6, 2023
How to Raise Confident Kids: Breaking Cycles of Negative Self-Esteem
E:
189
with
Dr. Vanessa Lapointe
Founder of The North Star Developmental Clinic
February 20, 2024
August 23, 2023
Understanding Sensory Self-Care: How Overstimulated Moms Can Regulate and Regain Calm
E:
187
with
Holly Peretz
Pediatric Occupational Therapist
February 20, 2024
August 16, 2023
Navigating Matrescence: The Roller Coaster of Becoming a Mom
E:
186
with
Dr. Catherine Birndorf
Co-Founder and Medical Director of The Motherhood Center of New York
February 20, 2024
July 26, 2023
The Journey of a Bereaved Parent: Stefania Thomson’s Story of Navigating Grief and Loss
E:
183
with
Stefania Thomson
Bereavement and Grief Advocate
February 20, 2024
June 21, 2023
Myths About Toddler Behavior: How to Reclaim the "Terrible Twos"
E:
178
with
Dr. Cathryn Tobin
Pediatrician
February 20, 2024
June 14, 2023
The Invisible Load of Fatherhood: How Dads Can Challenge Gender Norms and Become More Involved
E:
177
with
Dr. Singley
Psychologist and Director of The Center for Men’s Excellence
February 20, 2024
March 29, 2023
Birth Trauma Part 2: Facing Pregnancy After a Traumatic Birth
E:
166
with
Kayleigh Summers
Clinical Social Worker
February 20, 2024
March 22, 2023
Birth Trauma Part 1: How Birth Trauma Impacts Our Family Decision Making
E:
165
with
Kayleigh Summers
Clinical Social Worker
February 20, 2024
March 15, 2023
Real Self-Care for Moms: Why Mindset Matters More Than Massages
E:
164
with
Dr. Pooja Lakshmin
Psychiatrist
February 20, 2024
February 22, 2023
Navigating Working Mom Struggles: How to Let Go of Norms, Expectations, and Guilt
E:
161
with
Mary Beth Somich
Mental Health Counselor
February 20, 2024
February 8, 2023
Overcoming Mom Guilt: Rewriting the Motherhood Contract and Charting Your Own Path
E:
159
with
Libby Ward
Founder of Diary of an Honest Mom
February 20, 2024
December 28, 2022
Coping During Postpartum with No Family Support: When Reality Clashes with Expectations
E:
153
with
Emmalee Bierly and Jennifer Chaiken
Founders of ShrinkChicks
February 20, 2024
December 14, 2022
Navigating Career and Motherhood: Approaching Maternity Leave with Confidence
E:
151
with
Allison Venditti
Founder of Moms at Work
February 20, 2024
November 23, 2022
The Mental Load of Motherhood: How to Address the Imbalance of Household Labour
E:
148
with
Gemma Hartley
Journalist and Author
February 20, 2024
November 16, 2022
Surviving the Baby Witching Hour: How to Cope With Colicky and Fussy Babies
E:
147
with
Dr. Whitney Casares
Pediatrician
February 20, 2024
November 2, 2022
How To Deal With Toxic Positivity As a Mom: What To Do When Someone Invalidates Your Feelings
E:
145
with
Whitney Goodman
Marriage and Family Therapist
February 20, 2024
October 19, 2022
Returning to Work After Maternity Leave: Navigating the Emotions, Difficulties, and Challenges
E:
143
with
Dr. Cassidy Freitas
Marriage and Family Therapist
February 20, 2024
October 12, 2022
How to Know if You Have Postpartum Anxiety: Red Flags to Watch for in Pregnancy, Birth, and After Baby
E:
142
with
Dr. Sarah Oreck
Reproductive Psychiatrist
February 20, 2024
October 5, 2022
Protecting Maternal Sleep: The Relationship Between Sleep Deprivation and Postpartum Depression
E:
141
with
Dr. Nicole Leistikow
Reproductive Psychiatrist and Psychotherapist
February 20, 2024
September 21, 2022
Encouraging Independent Play: Why Unstructured Play Matters and How to Foster It
E:
139
with
Susie Allison
Founder of Busy Toddler
February 20, 2024
September 14, 2022
Dividing Labour Fairly in the Home: Redistributing the Mental Load of Motherhood
E:
138
with
Dr. Darcy Lockman
Author and Psychologist
April 25, 2024
August 31, 2022
Why Does a Messy House Give Me Anxiety? How to Stress Less About Cleaning and Keep Your House Functioning
E:
136
with
KC Davis
@domesticblisters on TikTok and Founder of Struggle Care
February 20, 2024
August 3, 2022
Overcoming Postpartum Depression and Anxiety: Why Support Matters and How to Find Resources to Help
E:
132
with
Dr. Wendy Davis
Executive Director of PSI
February 20, 2024
July 27, 2022
Overcoming Working Mom Guilt: Why Moms Should Never Be Ashamed to Be Ambitious
E:
131
with
Lara Bazelon
Law Professor and Author
February 20, 2024
February 16, 2022
What is Matrescence? The Transition into Motherhood (And Why Being a New Mom is Hard)
E:
108
with
Dr. Katayune Kaeni
Perinatal Psychologist
February 20, 2024
February 9, 2022
How to Prepare Your Dog for a New Baby: Planning, Introducing, and Keeping Everyone Safe
E:
107
with
Dominika Knossalla
Certified Dog Trainer
February 20, 2024
February 2, 2022
Discover Your Personal Core Values
E:
106
with
Dr. Cassidy Freitas
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
February 20, 2024
January 26, 2022
When Mommy Rage Strikes: How to Prevent and Control the Anger
E:
105
with
Dr. Ashurina Ream
Founder of Psyched Mommy
February 20, 2024
January 5, 2022
Sleep Training Doesn't Have To Be Scary
E:
102
with
Dr. Aubrie DeBear
Founder of Baby Sleep Dr.
February 20, 2024
January 19, 2022
Carrying the Mental Load: How to Redistribute the Burden and Give Moms More Freedom
E:
104
with
Eve Rodsky
New York Times Bestselling Author
February 20, 2024
January 12, 2022
Baby Blues vs. Postpartum Depression: How to Spot the Signs So You Can Seek Support
E:
103
with
Dr. Kristina Deligiannidis
Reproductive Psychiatrist
February 20, 2024
December 29, 2021
Decluttering: The Secret of an Easy to Tidy Home
E:
101
with
Katy Wells
Declutter Expert
February 20, 2024
December 22, 2021
100th Episode: Erica’s Husband Tells All
E:
100
with
Frenel Djossa