"I want to be around more while my baby is, well, still a baby."

Thanks to our brand partner, Triumph


As a kid, I always liked to win.

Whether it was my weekly tennis pennant or a maths quiz at school, a make-believe adventure with my sister or a round-the-dining table game of Monopoly with my cousins – I wanted to come out on top.

In the various contests of childhood I rarely possessed the natural talent that would make me the best. So to feed my need for victory, I instead relied on excessive enthusiasm and a healthy dose of determination. Consecutive school reports remarked on my competitive streak and unwavering belief that I was always right.

Once you reach adulthood, being obsessed with winning is metamophasised by management speak. You attract new labels, like ‘ambitious’, ‘driven’ and ‘goal-oriented’. The very traits that annoy childhood peers the most become workplace attributes; qualities headhunters and interviewers consider desirable.

Each year I set a series of targets for the 12 months ahead. I would achieve this, reach that; climbing rung after rung on the illusionary career jungle gym in my mind. Pressure and pace were my mantras. I place the highest possible expectations for myself and tried to reach them as quickly as possible. Goal, plan, work, achieve. Repeat.

But now, after almost a decade, I’ve decided to stop.

I’ve resigned from my secure, salaried, prestigious management job to pursue freelance work. Why? Because I want to be around more while my baby is, well, still a baby.

Jamila chose to take a step back after the birth of her son Rafi seven months ago. Image via Instagram @jamiliarizvi.

I gave birth to my first child seven months ago and if you’d told me then that this was my future, I would have checked your head for signs of concussion. It’s not a direction I ever expected to take. Nor is it a choice that every mother can or wants to make. But I think it’s the right thing for him and for me, at this moment in time.

It’s an eerie feeling beginning the new year without a checklist. While I was all confidence and bravado about my decision back in December, the harsh light of January weakened my resolve a little. After defining myself by work and career for so long, it’s incredibly confronting when it all goes away. I can’t help but wonder if the 8-year-old version of me would be disappointed. Can you ‘win’ at being a mum?


My son, Rafi, seven months old, doesn’t give a toss about winning. He isn’t aware when mummy has received an award. He can’t understand why I’d need to stay back late at the office. He won’t appreciate the importance of my five year plan. How could he? He’s only just learned that his feet are attached to the rest of him.

To him, I’m just mum.


“To him, I’m just mum.” Image via Instagram @jamiliarizvi.

Someone who sings the theme song from Chariots of Fire to help him fall asleep. The person who insists he wears socks when it’s cold, even though he’s going to kick them off anyway. I’m the arms that will catch him before he hits the ground when he takes a nose dive off the change table. The servant who holds him up aloft to every available light switch so he can carefully inspect it. The one with the boobs.

So for the next little or long while – whichever it ends up being – I’m going to try and follow my baby’s lead. I’m going to forget about winning. Instead of always setting my sights on the next achievement, I’m going to give myself the time to look upwards and around me. To take pause, to observe, to notice and to joyfully devour this first year of Rafi’s life; a time that so many people have warned me will be gone before I know it.

Some would call it smelling the roses.

Others might describe it as living in the moment.

For me, it’s about cherishing what I have, instead of pursuing what I don’t.

And I can’t think of a better ambition for 2016 than that.

How are you changing your outlook this year?