One of the most frightening and liberating times in my life is playing out every day as I redefine my own personal success, and, in turn, that of my family. Almost a year ago, I was running ragged, but I refused to admit there was a problem.
On the surface, I was the picture of American success. At 36 years old, I had a high-powered job as co-host of a network morning show, a role I'd dreamed of and worked hard to achieve. I had a husband who supported me every step of the way, and was a true partner in every sense of the word. Our two sweet, funny, healthy little boys never ceased to make us laugh and smile. I have a wonderful relationship with my Mother, my in-laws, my sister... there was literally nothing in my life I could complain about. Leaning on society's traditional definitions of success, especially for a working mother, I had it all. And yet, I was miserable. I was almost embarrassed by my achievements, thinking, like many women, that I didn't really deserve all these riches.
I believed my "success" meant doing everything myself, lest someone realize the many things I still didn't know. I was constantly worried someone would call me out, and let the world know I was hanging on by a thread, my sanity waving in the balance. My colleagues would joke about how I never wanted anyone to carry anything for me -- even if it meant I was always a half-step away from dropping everything and falling flat on the floor (a metaphor, perhaps?).
When it came to my kids, I was convinced that if I couldn't be the one to wake them up, start their day and get them school, then I HAD to be the one to pick them up, bring them to every activity, cook their dinner from scratch and put them to bed. And do it all with a cheery smile on my face.
I refused to see how my quest to "do it all" meant I wasn't doing any of it well, and I certainly wasn't enjoying life the way I should. I had become a woman in a constant state of stress and anxiety. I felt I couldn't measure up in any aspect of my life. Talk about successful!
On July 26, 2012, that world came to a screeching halt... and I recognized almost immediately the gift I'd been given. I was replaced on the show I had anchored in various incarnations for the past four years, and while there is a certain pain that comes from being told you're not the one, there was a freedom in knowing I was about to get a second chance.
For three months, I thought about what I wanted to do next, and what was most important to me. I thought about what would make me feel successful. Again and again, I came back to my family. I thought about the example I wanted to set for my children, and about the person I wanted to be both for them and for me. I thought about the small moments I wanted to be a part of. I thought about owning my achievements, and celebrating what *I* saw as my successes... not what society defined them to be.
Part of that journey was admitting that I deserve the success I've worked so hard for, and that I am, in fact, good enough and smart enough to demand the recognition. I learned the importance of saying, "No", rather than trying to please everyone. I learned the beautifully empowering, yet utterly simple, "Thank you" in response to a kind compliment. I stopped making excuses and giving others credit for my achievements. I began to own my success, and, in turn, take back my life on my terms.
I also made a commitment to be present, whether it was at work or at home. I am now redefining my success every day, and am much more comfortable with the example I'm giving my children. I speak up more, both for myself and for others. I am more focused on the task at hand, because I'm not as focused on living up to someone else's definition of success. Instead of obsessing over what I'm not doing, I celebrate all that I can do, and all that I will do. I am learning to be my own cheerleader, one day at a time.
This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post in conjunction with our women's conference, "The Third Metric: Redefining Success Beyond Money & Power" which will take place in New York on June 6, 2013. To read all of the posts in the series and learn more about the conference, click here. Join the conversation on Twitter #ThirdMetric.