Are You Unambitious for Choosing Your Family Over Work?

Plenty of people prioritize their careers and are lauded for their ambition.

They’re admired and treated with respect.

But what about those of us who choose family over work?

Are we unambitious underachievers by comparison? 

Or, do family-first women and men deserve just as much recognition as those who are hyper-focused on climbing the corporate ladder?

Raising a family and building a happy home life isn’t easy. It takes time, dedication, and hard work—easily on par with building a successful career.

Focusing on your family above all else is a legitimate road to living a successful, fulfilling life. The wins will just look a little different than those along a career-oriented pathway. You might even define “success” in a completely novel way, beyond the norms of earnings, raises, promotions, and fancy titles.

And that’s awesome.

Here are 5 reasons choosing family over work is a decision that deserves respect—and why you’re NOT unambitious if this is the road you choose to walk.


5 reasons why choosing family over work deserves respect

1. You’re doing three (or four, or five) jobs in one

Even if you work outside of the home (or work from home), when you prioritize your family you probably wear multiple hats—and some all at once: Cook. Accountant. Scheduler. Cleaner. Travel agent. Chauffeur. Dishwasher. Gardener. Counselor. Childcare expert. Coach. Party planner. Tutor.

Running a successful, happy, healthy household requires expertise and competence in so many different areas, you’d think you’d need multiple degrees and extensive training to handle it all.

But you don’t. You’re just you, making it work. (Insert round of applause.)


2. Family over work is a huge commitment

If you consistently prioritize your family over your career, you’ve probably made quite a few sacrifices.

Maybe you haven’t moved up at your current job in a long time. Or, you let promotions slide by because a bigger, more important work role would take up too much time and energy—resources you need to devote to your family.

Maybe you’ve declined to take on new clients or grow your business because your family would suffer without you around as much. 

What a lot of people don’t realize about prioritizing family: It’s not one cut-and-dry choice, but rather a series of choices made over and over again throughout your life. 

It’s bypassing promotions and raises in favor of being home to help the kids with homework and attend their games and recitals. It’s eschewing after-work drinks and networking so you can get home and cook dinner for everyone. It’s working part-time so you can better manage your household, juggle your chores and tasks, and tend to your most important relationships.

Just because it’s something you ultimately want to do doesn’t make it easy. But you stand firm because you know it’s right for you and your loved ones. That’s laudable.


3. Prioritizing family promotes a balanced life (and might help you earn more)

Did you know that people who prioritize their families earn more money on average than those who prioritize other things (career, fitness, friends, etc.)?

Priorities and payoffs infographic showing average annual income by gender and top priority

On average, women who prioritized family made nearly $1,500 more annually than women who prioritized their careers. For men, the difference was even more pronounced: Family prioritizers made about $5,400 more annually than career prioritizers.

Why the salary gap? Those who put family over work might invite more balance into their lives, which leads to less stress, better productivity, and higher well-being. That could equate to better work performance.

Additionally, overwork can have a ripple effect and impact your loved ones just as much as you. In another interesting study on work-life balance, researchers found that women with partners working 50 or more hours per week had much lower relationship satisfaction and higher stress than women with partners working 35+ hours/week.

Prioritizing your family and making a conscious effort to spend more time with them promotes everyone’s well-being, not just yours. 


4. Your family role makes you a better employee (or boss, or entrepreneur)

Someone who works hard for and prioritizes their family often makes a fantastic worker, boss, or entrepreneur.

They know how to multitask successfully. They can manage people and processes without batting an eye. They understand how to navigate conflict and build relationships. They have a vast array of hard and soft skills at their disposal.

In other words, if you’re busy building your family AND working, you’re a powerhouse with so much to offer any employer, client, or partner.

Check out this working mom story to see what we mean:

Jenna Shoobridge prioritizes family over work, but she is grateful to enjoy both motherhood and her career
Jenna Shoobridge, Social Media Manager (Michigan), shares her experience of balancing motherhood and her career. For the full caption, click the image above to read her story on Instagram.


5. You’re redefining “success” 

Just because your life doesn’t fit into some preconceived notion of “success” doesn’t mean you’re not successful.

Instead, you probably measure success in your own way. Your definition doesn’t rely on earnings or promotions, but rather on satisfaction, skill, flexibility—and most importantly, a happy, thriving family and a loving home.

As long as you’re satisfied and fulfilled with your family/work balance (or if you’re a stay-at-home parent, your full-time job), that’s all that matters.

What’s more, you’re flipping the script on what it means to be successful and how success is measured, and that’s amazing. 


Family over work: Your version of success matters

If you’re putting your family over work and thriving, then there’s no need to compare yourself to those who put their career first.

You’re simply living out your version of a successful life. While it may look wildly different from someone else’s story, the point is it’s yours. And it deserves respect.

The work you do is often behind the scenes and not on display like it would be if you were taking names in your career—but you don’t do it for awards or recognition.

You do it for the deep satisfaction it brings you daily. You do it because your family matters most to you.

That’s worth celebrating every single day.

Seeking more work-life balance? Want to put family first and work on your own terms? Work for Vector and define your version of success.