Alice Park Photography » Blog

How I Measure Success

I’m 34-years-old, married, have two beautiful children (I think by law, I’m required to say they’re beautiful, right? Well, good thing they really are…), own and operate two businesses with my husband from our home and have a lifestyle that many consider unconventional and somewhat crazy.  I spend an exorbitant amount of time with my husband (did I mention we run two businesses together?) and my children. And very little time out there face-to-face with other professionals my age, who are no doubt sipping on their double mocha lattes, discussing the new hip & trendy lunch spot and making solid connections in the business and creative world.

In fact, I know many of my friends would cringe if they heard a roundup of what my day entails. It goes something like this…

6 am – Wake up. Shower and then get ready.  Answer emails, journal, tackle my to-do list, or maybe go for a quick 20 minute run. Wait for that 6:47 a.m. baby alarm to go off and get as much done as humanly possible before her day starts. Because when her day starts, I know mine ends.

6:47 am – Baby wakes up, and then I stop all productivity. I make her bottle, feed her, play with her and make breakfast for the others in the family.  My husband is usually up now too, and we tackle our family morning routine together.  We’ve got a pretty good groove now.

8 am – Lucky for us, our oldest likes to sleep.  He goes down at 7:30 at night and likes to sleep well past his 12 hour “recommended” amount, so it’s not rare that he sleeps in while we get in extra baby time.  He wakes up in a great mood, we eat breakfast, dance to Pandora Toddler radio and talk about how we’re going to tackle preschool life that day.

8:45 am – I take my preschooler to school. On our 20 minute commute there, we talk about everything because let’s face it – they sure do love to talk, and it’s proven at this age (at any age really!), that they are most likely to soak in the world in the mornings.  Life, philosophy, the arts – you name it.  My 4-year-old and I love our morning commutes.

9:30 am – I schedule my morning photo sessions then.  I spend 1-2 hours with clients Tuesdays – Fridays.  Mondays are reserved for staff meetings around then, so no sessions are scheduled.  It’s one of the highlights of my day and one of the rare opportunities I schedule time with other adults.  I savor those two hours; it’s also the time that either my husband watches the baby or his wonderful mother comes to spend time with her so he and I can get some work accomplished.

12 pm – I pick up my son from preschool and we head to an equally stimulating after-school activity like gymnastics or music or…grocery shopping. So fun.

1 pm – We head home and eat lunch as a family.  Kyu and I generally take turns cooking lunch, but it’s usually something really simple like a slow cooker meal meant to last through dinner or an equally nourishing meal like ramen.  Kyu likes to add frozen vegetables for added nutrients.

2- 5 pm – Our favorite part of the day.  We call it, “tag, you’re it!” – a fun game my husband and I play that involves switching roles of full-time parent and full-time business owner.  One is usually on the ground playing with the kiddos while the other takes a conference call or scheduled meeting.  If I’m with the kids, we’ll venture to the park for a play date, or play with bubbles or sand in the backyard.  If Kyu’s with the kids, they’ll build boxed RescueBots, build forts, or play soldiers and marines with the loudest, most annoying toy guns in the world.  And if we’re both tagged (meaning, we have to get work done), we’ll sit the kids in front of the television or YouTube (those Easter egg videos are so fascinating!) and tackle whatever crises is in front of us.  During this fun game of tag, the kids are generally in the middle of a conversation that involves legal papers, big picture initiatives and lots and lots of numbers.  We count that time as our “home school” time.

5 pm – Kyu and I generally stop what we’re doing and we all eat dinner together as a family. The kids are generally melting by then, so it’s a bit of a race to see who can bribe the preschooler the most with dessert and extra story time before bed for eating his vegetables.  We then all clean up the kitchen, put away our toys and head upstairs for baths and books.  Somehow, we always end up procrastinating the night routine by all jumping on Mom and Dad’s bed then.  The baby loves it, and I’ll admit it’s pretty rad to see big brother make her laugh.

6 pm – Bath time, more or less.  Dad takes care of big brother, and I take care of baby sister.  We try to have fun with it, but we’re fairly certain it’s the same routine as every other family household in America.  But we still think it’s pretty special.

7 pm – Kids are in bed.  We’ve read our last book, the lights go out and Kyu leads the kids in their nightly prayers. Also pretty special…

And it’s generally around that time when Kyu and I buckle down, power up our laptops and tackle our day’s work list.

We’ll both work until around midnight, and then we’ll pour ourselves a glass of wine and wind down the day together.  If we haven’t killed each other by then (from plain over exposure of one another), I call it my “happy hour” time with him.  If we have a new business idea, we’ll pitch it then.  Or if we’re excited to visit someplace new with the kids, we’ll discuss the possibility of it.  Work is put away, the kids are sleeping soundly, and we get in a good hour to just be husband and wife.

If you asked me 10 years ago how I measured “success,” I would have told you about my bucket list of achievements I wanted to accomplish before I turned 30.  This included starting several businesses that would take me around the world; discovering new people, new cultures, new ideas; working with the brightest, most innovative leaders/scholars/entrepreneurs and finding myself equally as accomplished in their eyes.

But sometime in between getting married and having our first born, something changed; I changed.  My ambition and my drive shifted from being on top of the world to being at home with my family.  Instead of building my own legacy to leave, I wanted to work hard to equip my children with the right tools so that they can be successful and live life to their fullest potential.

If you ask me now how I measure “success,” I will tell you about my desire to be a good wife, a good mother, a good friend, a good Samaritan.  I will tell you about my “Big Book of Ideas” that never came to fruition because I didn’t have the time to follow through on the execution.  But I will also tell you about my big book of my children that I’ve documented through the years, recording every “light bulb” moment my preschooler had, every big conversation and every big dream and every major milestone that I got to witness with my baby firsthand.

And I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Perhaps there will be opportunities for me again in the future to do something really, really big with my life.  But right now, that something really, really big is snoozing away in their beds while I write.  I’m pretty psyched to experience all of the little successes in their lives and know that I had a small part of helping them reach that.  More than anything, I’m happy knowing that in this grand and fulfilling life that I chose – it’s got gold stars all over it.



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