How to Redefine Success as a Parent and a Professional

Posted on: January 19th, 2021 by Kristen Miller

Start 2021 With a Fresh Perspective

A New Year. Full of potential, full of opportunity.

Maybe you, like so many of us, are looking at it as a much needed fresh start.

In year’s past, this time of year may have consisted of vision boards, picking a “word of the year” and envisioning all the good things you’d work toward.

But this year, it may look a little different.

Maybe you’re tired. Like bone tired. And fed up.

Or maybe you’ve lost someone close. Or had a health scare.

Chances are good that you’re approaching 2021 a bit, well, apprehensively.

And as you do, maybe you’re not planning a single thing. 

Not a single thing.

A stark contrast to January of 2020.

Guess what?

That’s okay.

You’re okay.

Or maybe you’re one of the lucky ones, and you’re gathering up the magazines, the art supplies and scissors to make your vision board with as much excitement as last year.

That’s okay, too.

No matter how you’re entering 2021, you’ve dealt with a lot. A LOT.

There’s no getting around it.

And so have our kids.

They deserve some attention, too.

And a redefining of ‘success.’

I can’t tell you how many times, over the last nine months, I’ve heard parents and caretakers say… 

“My son just can’t learn online. He’s falling behind.”

“My daughter is really depressed. She used to love school. And now, well, she doesn’t.”

“I worry about him, a lot.”

All valid concerns. All real-life stuff.

It’s why we must redefine success. For you and your mental health. And for your kids. 

And what better time of year to do that than the first month of the year? 

It’s time to look in the mirror while looking within. 

Ken Ginsburg, MD, MS Ed, FAAP, at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, gives us a bit of perspective. He said, “The best way to protect our children is to shape the lessons gained during this difficult time. We do so best when we intentionally manage​​ our own feelings and experiences with an eye toward helping them build resilience.”

As you work to help your kids, our collective future, ask yourself some questions.

Ground Yourself With 6 Questions This New Year

What worked in 2020?

I know, I know. It was a year. A YEAR.

And the reality is, you learned a lot. Some of it the hard way. 

But some things worked. After all, you did make it out the other side.

You survived. You fought your way through the thickest of it. And you stuck it out. In the craziest of crazy, you’re still standing.

So, take a few minutes and jot down what worked for you in 2020. 

For me, it was a deep faith in my employees. They are amazing. And talented. And caring. And good. Such good humans. And they did the right things in the right ways.

The culture and foundation we have built here at my nonprofit, Community Connections for Children, is one where all staff are valued, trusted, and appreciated. 

It helped us transition to working remotely with confidence. Confidence in our team and in our work. Confidence in our clients, and the excellent, consistent support they receive day in and day out. 

My team taught me a lot this year. And I’m so thankful.

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’”

‒ Eleanor Roosevelt

What didn’t work in 2020?

This is your opportunity to take inventory and write down the things that didn’t work last year.

For most of us, there’s a lot to choose from.

You can focus on big things or small details. Try your best to capture it all.

Need a good laugh from our inventory? 

In early 2020, CCC formed a Safety Committee. Yes, a Safety Committee. 

The committee worked hard to create policies and procedures. They sent out tip sheets related to home workspaces, ergonomics, and more. But alas, the planned inspection of our office spaces (and possible updates if safety issues were found) didn’t work in the wake of COVID restrictions.

So we intentionally paused that work. And we looked for other ways to better ourselves in a pandemic controlled 2020.

“Only when we are brave enough to explore our darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”

‒ Brené Brown

How do you want to feel in 2021?

Okay, so now we’re going deep. 

Remember life before the pandemic? And the crisis that ensued? The uncertainty, unrest, and injustice?

Maybe there is a feeling you felt back before all the changes that you’d like more of.

I, for one, want to feel energized and hopeful in 2021. 

I want to acknowledge all we have been through, collectively as a staff and a community, and personally during this past year. 

Not just the impact of COVID and working remotely, but the personal challenges faced by so many of my team, friends, and family.  

We are joyful, resilient, creative, hardworking, and determined humans.

I want to honor that and build upon our strengths to ensure a better 2021. I want to feel energized and hopeful.

Taken a step further, ask how do I want to make others feel this year?

After naming that feeling you want to inspire, identify a few ways you can spread that feeling. If you’re helping others to feel it, chances are good that you will feel it, too.

“No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.”

‒ Theodore Roosevelt

What do you need more of?

Yes, we’re going there. Look within, and really ask yourself what do I need more of?

As a parent, as a professional, as a leader. 

For me, it’s engagement.  

Full, complete engagement. A place where attention, purpose, and interest intersect.

“Work at showing people that you care. It’s been shown that the more other-focused you are, the more people listen to you, gravitate to you, and appreciate you.”

‒ Jack Groppel

As the pandemic drug on (and on), I found it harder to stay actively engaged with ALL members of the CCC team. Now, I’m focused on finding new ways to cultivate real engagement, in a manner that resonates with each individual staff person and with EVERYONE on our team. 

And as I do, I know I’ll feel more energized. And hopeful.

Funny how that works.

What does success look like for you? 

Okay, so this question may be triggering for you. 

And your answer continues to evolve, just as you do.

Does success equal money? Knowledge? Power? A CEO title or a multimillion dollar business? Or does success mean something different?

You’ve lived through a pandemic. A pandemic! And now, in 2021, it’s time to redefine success. To realign. For you, your family, your kids, and your team. 

An example? Your toddler.

If we’re looking at traditional standards, metrics and measurements, yes, your preschooler may have technically “fallen behind.” 

But what did he or she gain? 

Deeper relationships with immediate family? More time outside? Did he or she solve problems independently? Or resolve conflicts with siblings? Learn a new technology to video chat with grandma? Or maybe potty training has been a huge win?

All success. Real-life success.

So pause for a moment, and think about what success looks like for you. 

Figure out a new definition. And claim it. 

Because sometimes, sometimes, a season can shift our entire perspective. And we will carry our newfound knowledge and priorities with us for the rest of our lives.

For me, success is serving my team, my clients, my partners, and constituents with honor, respect, and excellence. 

Success means quality child care for each and every family. So parents can have peace of mind and be productive workers, and so their children have a strong foundation for school and life.  

Success is reflection, revision, and improvement. 

Success is engagement; for me and my team. It’s a focus and commitment. It’s confidence – in each other and in our talent and potential. 

And it’s not being afraid to try new things, to fail, and to learn from those failures.  

“When we give ourselves permission to fail, we, at the same time, give ourselves permission to excel.” 

‒ Eloise Ristad

What is your theme for 2021?

Okay, so ‘a theme’ sounds super important. And maybe even a bit daunting.

But you’ve put in the work. And your theme may be pretty clear. That’s great. Jot it down and use it to help you make decisions in the coming year.

If you’re still at a loss, try this exercise. 

Think back to the last gathering you hosted. Chances are, it was over a year ago. But none-the-less, there was probably a party theme.

Remember who you were with? And what you were celebrating? Do you remember the theme?

Who chose it? And how did it add to the gathering?

Maybe it added to the aesthetic and helped you choose decorations and activities during the party. But it didn’t make or break it. It was just a bonus.

So think of your 2021 theme as a bonus. Something to help you navigate the year ahead, keep you on track when your priorities are askew.

Point being, your theme is completely up to you. 

You could choose a theme for your family, for your kids, for your career, or for your life. 

There’s no pressure. It doesn’t have to be permanent or posted on social media. It could even change as 2021 progresses. 

In fact, the simpler, the better.

Themes could be adventure, reading, nature, growth, advancement, hope, health, etc. Literally, there’s no wrong answer. Your theme could be unicorns. And it would be wonderful.

My theme for 2021?


I’m going to work to be more engaged and to encourage those around me to be more engaged. 

So go on, choose a theme. And empower your team to do the same. And your kids. You may be surprised at the themes they come up with. 

As a bonus, it gives you something to collectively work toward.

Build Your Resilience While Holding on to Hope

As you reflect, looking within at your emotions and your failures, you’re building resilience in real-time. You’re growing as you lean into the discomfort.

“When we learn to become resilient, we learn how to embrace the beautifully broad spectrum of the human experience.”

‒ Jaeda Dewalt

This human experience, it really is beautiful. So beautiful.

Wishing you resilience, hope, and more of the things you want in 2021.

Community Connections for Children, Inc. (CCC) is a nonprofit centered in the heart of Pennsylvania. They are the backbone of the economy, serving childcare providers and low-income families ‒ the ones that have been impacted the most by the pandemic. 

For you and your business, CCC helps keep childcare options open for your employees ‒ saving missed work hours and lowering on-the-job stress levels. They work with early childhood education programs and home-based providers to improve the quality of care, ensuring that all children enter school ready to be successful.

Christy Renjilian serves as its Executive Director.

To learn more and to donate, visit


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