Cortney Jones, founder of nonprofit Change 1, urges boss moms to remember to nurture the self.
By McKenzie Henningsen, Photos courtesy of Cortney Jones
After growing up in foster care, Cortney Jones was suddenly faced with the brutal reality of many 18-year-olds in the system: homelessness. But after attending Texas State University for social work and earning her master’s degree, Jones decided she wanted to protect Austin’s youth from experiencing what she went through. In 2013, she founded her nonprofit organization, Change 1, which helps foster youth find their way in the world. On top of her demanding career, Jones is also an adoptive mother of two.
With so much on her plate, Cortney Jones answers the question: How do you do it all?
Don’t be afraid to do the work on your own.
I’m only one person, [but]I wanted to be the change I wanted to see in my community. I was once in foster care myself. That’s what made me want to become a social worker. But reality set in. Starting a nonprofit was a lot harder than I thought. Having my own nonprofit while working full-time, while being a mom, it was hard to navigate. I was bursting at the seams. So, I made a lot of mistakes, and I grew in a lot of ways during that time. But I still did the work, regardless of being afraid.
Remember why you started.
In 2007, I came up with the concept of starting my own nonprofit. I wanted to give back and help kids who had encountered the foster care system. Because I went through that system myself and I aged out into homelessness, it really means a lot to me for kids to not go through what I went through. But [with Change 1], I’m able to show them something different, and I’m able to create opportunities that will help them see there is light at the end of the tunnel. That’s what makes me want to continue to do what I’m doing.
Trust that you can do it.
Motherhood is challenging, but it’s rewarding when you see that your child is growing and developing and grasping the things you’re trying to implement in their life. I didn’t think I had the capability of being a mom because I never really saw it modeled for me through [having]a mother. But you just get the strength from somewhere. I realized that I have super strength I never thought I could have or never thought that was there. I enjoy being a mom because all the things I wish would have happened in my life, I’m able to ensure that it is happening in my children’s lives. I’m proud to be a mom. I’m proud to know that I have the strength that I never thought that I had.
Remember who’s number one.
What happens with mothers is that we become the wife, the mom, the employee. We become everything to everyone, and we lose who we are. Through being a boss, through being a mom, through being an entrepreneur or whatever it is that you are, don’t lose yourself. Schedule time to love yourself. Practice self-care. Remember, if you’re no good for yourself, you can’t be good for anybody else.
It’s okay to set boundaries.
Cut off work and don’t take that home. In the beginning [of Change 1], there was no separation. I said yes to everything, and I was burnt out. I had to have a season of saying no. Had to understand that if I’m burnt out, stressed out because I’m saying yes to everything, I’m not giving 100% to it all. I need to make sure that whatever I’m focusing my energy on, I have the time to do it. Had to learn to compartmentalize. I had to learn that my work was going to be okay if I left it there at 5 p.m. I had to condition myself to believe that it’s okay to say no, and it’s okay to compartmentalize things. It’s okay to set boundaries because it’s needed. Yes, you’re superwoman, but superwoman has boundaries.