Career Choices We Make to Be Better Moms

Career Choices We Make to Be Better Moms

When was the first time you consciously said yes or no to a career path or job because you knew you wanted to be a mom?

The first time I distinctly remember making a career choice based on my desire to be a mom was in late 2004 (I was 26). Newly engaged, I started to think about what my life would look like as a mom and a wife.

At the time I had a job I enjoyed working for a boss I loved; however, I knew that to remain happy I needed to continue to move up the ladder. In my current role as Front Office & Guest Services Manager, my destination job was as General Manager of a hotel.

All the GMs that I knew were men, but that hadn’t previously entered into my calculations. I’d started in my first hotel job at 18 and by age 22 I’d already created and managed a Guest Services department of Bellmen and Valets, most of whom were older than me and all of whom were male.

I’d chosen hotel life, because I am a “people first” kind of person; I loved the hands on management of staff, and I loved facilitating an environment in which our guests knew they were important, valued and welcome in “our home.”

Book links in this post are Amazon Affiliate links!

What Makes a Family Friendly WorkPlace?

Not long after I’d put on my engagement ring; I received a call from my Night Auditor. They’d had a fire alarm and some issues closing accounts. At 1 AM I found myself crawling out of bed in the cold of Colorado winter night (thankfully no snow) to head into the hotel and get things sorted out.

By the time we finished up it was 4 AM and I had to be back at 7AM to greet a group of British Tourists, so I stayed a work (a perk of hotels is beds are easy to find). The more time I spent with my fiance and his 9 to 5 job, and suddenly the flexibility and perks of hotel life that I’d loved as a young single, didn’t seem to me like a good job for a mom and wife.

For better or worse, I quit, heading back to school to get a masters degree and with hopes I’d figure out another path. Instead, I faced a good 6 years of indecision followed by several more years of figuring it all out, restarting and stopping several careers, and getting divorced. along the way.

If only I’d known what I know now back then, I probably would have actually been quite happy to stay at the hotel. In this it wasn’t my job that was out of alignment, but my ideas about what family life should look like.

Core Values are Crucial

On one hand, I was smart to listen to my gut, when she told me that certain things were not aligned with my values. On the flipside, what I didn’t know was that many of my values were societal “I shoulds” and not actually my personal core values.

Another mistake I made, is that I thought I had to figure this all out on my own; had I sat down and had an honest chat with my GM (the proud dad of three kids) I might of started to understand my internal conflicts in a different light, but I didn’t.

Ultimately, I made big decisions based on what I thought I should be doing, verses on what I valued.

KNOWING YOUR STRENGTHS HELPS YOU UNDERSTAND YOUR NEEDS

Not only was I operating on miss-aligned values, I didn’t actually understand why I was good at certain things and why other things were always a push, nor did I understand what I really wanted out of a job, which was flexibility.

Like many “smart” people, I attribute my success to my smarts and hard work, not the subtleties of the different activities.  And, when I got bored at work, I immediately started to lose interest.

I’d been successful in the hotel biz, because my core strengths are strategy, adaptability, and communication. I have high empathy and appreciate a job well done. I am also high on input and learning, which means I need to variety (good in a hotel), and the opportunity to continually learn (hence my rapid movement from PBX operator to management).

What I needed in a job was that ability to continually grow, learn and contribute to strategy, while also honoring my personal needs for healthy living (fitness), and family time. If I’d been honest with my GM about these things, I am sure we could have figured out how to make it work. He was that kind of guy.

Determine Your Clifton Strengths 2.0 (Buy a new book or Kindle to get the code to take the online test)

Job Crafting: Understand and Voice Your NEEDs

If you are a woman that is already a mom or has the possibility of someday being a mom on her horizon here are a few things you can do to save yourself a lot of discomfort and indecision.

First, get clear on your values, your strengths, your needs and your interests. Instead of finding a *new* job or career, maybe you can figure out how to craft your current path meet you in the middle.

The first step to doing this clarifying your strengths, and values, so you can articulate where you want to go and what you need — essentially be clear about your hopes for the future.

In my case, looking back, when it comes to working in a hotel, even as the General Manager, the job is terribly flexible and actually a pretty awesome job for a family person (mom or dad). In reality, I likely would have been very happy in the role for a time (or a long-time), but I gave it up because I didn’t actually understand what I wanted or needed.

What do you value? Time? Healthy Food? Being together?

I should-ed all over myself!

Stop Should-ing on Yourself

One of the beauties of life is that for the most part we actually have a lot of discretion to choose what we do and when. Sure, we may say I ‘HAVE’ to get X done by tomorrow, but really we chose to get X done because we value the outcome or the outcome is directly linked to something we value.

That said, often when we get stuck or that dreaded anxiousness or pressure in our chest when we think of something we need to do, it’s often because it’s something that we think we *need* to do to be a good employee, a good friend, a good mom, a good human, but it’s not really something we value.

The question is, do we really value the activity and the outcome?

Perhaps you just said YES to baking 120 cupcakes for the bakesale at your kids school, because you couldn’t say “no” and you think that is what “good” moms do. Now you feel an insane pressure, because you also have a report to do for work, need to take the dog to the vet and who knows what else.

You suddenly spiral into insane evil mom, snapping at her kids, honking at the cars around you and generally feeling like the world is caving in on you. There is so much going on and it’s all out of your control.

What would happen if you stepped back, outside of yourself and looked at this a couple different ways?

OPTIONS

What are your options?

  1. You could call up the school and say you can’t deliver on the cupcakes.
  2. You could go buy 120 cupcakes and save yourself some time.
  3. You could call up your boss, explain that you are excited to bake 120 cupcakes for your kids school, ask for a 24-hour extension and promise to bring cupcakes to the office.
  4. You could call up the vet and see if you can reschedule/drop off the dog earlier or ask a neighbor to help.
  5. You could take a deep breath and say, I love baking (so I said yes), I’ve got my report mostly finished, I only need to do X, Y and Z.
  6. There are probably some other options I didn’t list.

Values

The point is, if you can step back from your situation and identify how your values line up with your life. Go through your day and your life and see where you can replace “I should” with I value” or where you can replace “I have to” with “I choose to.”

I shoulds are what OTHER people value, not you. I HAVE TO is a phrase that removes your personal agency.

If you can happily swap in “I value” or “I choose to” you are on the right track. If you cannot — you’ve just made a super important insight into what in your life may be holding you back. Knowing what you value makes it a heck of a lot easier to say no without guilt and to set your boundaries.

If you want to do more work on values. Deep work on values, I suggest working with a coach or reading Brene Brown’s book The Gift of Imperfection. Personally, I’ve benefited from both!

Strengths

Another big part of this puzzle is your strengths.

Many things that people ask us to do or that we think are easy to do, somehow tie back into our natural talents and strengths.

Maybe you always get asked to bake, because people know you love to bake, you enjoy baking, and you are GOOD at it. Maybe it’s EASY for you and you value good, healthy, from scratch cooking.

Maybe you always get asked to write reports, because you write good reports. You understand all the components, you make them easy to read, you structure things correctly, but you hate it.

Maybe you actually despise writing reports, but you value clear communication and a job done well, so you follow directions and you just happen to be a good writer. Maybe it takes you five times as long to write a report as it would for you to write a creative essay.

Maybe you hate the idea of someone else buying store bought cupcakes, but in reality your peace of mind and your ability to focus on the report for work is of more importance. Will the kids really care where the cupcakes came from? Or will they care more about the money the cupcakes raised to do X?

If you understand your strengths, you can start to understand why you excel in certain areas, and how even a strength in one area, can bolster your success in another. Integrate your strengths with your values and you start to see why some things bring you joy and others ulcers.

With my clients I use the Clifton Strengths 2.0. You need to buy a new book or Kindle to get the code to take the online test.

Gratitude

Another super powerful trick is to work your gratitude practice into the application of your values and strengths.

→ Maybe you can find more joy in writing a report if you understand that you value clear communication and you see that you can write good reports.

→ Maybe you can say “no” to baking 120 cupcakes and be grateful that someone else said yes, even if their cupcakes won’t be as good as yours.

→ Maybe you can do both and not be stressed, if you recognize that you made a CHOICE that is aligned with your values and your strengths; and that you are super grateful to have work you love and kids to bake cupcakes for….

The Magic of Gratitude

Gratitude gets a lot of play in the media, because there really is something to the “science of gratitude.” However, genuine gratitude is a real challenge to muster up when we feel we “should be grateful” and yet all we feel is the pressure of the “shoulds” and “have tos.”

Which leads to another distinction — there is a big difference between “being grateful” and “practicing gratitude.” I can sit here all day and say I am “grateful for this and grateful for that.” I am grateful I have food when others don’t, I am grateful I have a new car, I am grateful, I am grateful…

Having and practicing gratitude goes above and beyond the words. It’s a visceral experience in which are hearts are full and we get there by being clear on what we need, what we value, and in stopping to slow down and savor.

Practicing gratitude can look like slowing down as we walk down the front path, enjoying the warmth of sunshine, and the opportunity to take cupcakes to our kid’s school fundraiser. Recognizing that we made a choice and that we love contributing to something good.

Practicing gratitude can also be as simple as stopping to smile, say hello, holding open the door for someone carrying a plate of cupcakes. In this moment you can be grateful that you had an opportunity to for a moment, ease someone else’s path with a smile and a kind gesture.

My passion is helping moms to say ‘Goodbye” to stress and “Hello” to a more fullfilling life!

Three Good Things

Before I go to bed at night, I personally really love the practice of gratitude that asks me to think of three good things that I contributed to during the day. These “things” can be big or tiny, the key is that I think of how I participated in the good.

Maybe I helped my daughter draw shoes on her princess. Maybe I thank the technician for a job well-done. Maybe I took some time for myself to enjoy my coffee in the sun or to do a yoga class.

My two favorite side-effects of doing gratitude this way is that by thinking about how I contributed to what I am grateful for, is that it really sticks with me and gives vibe of positivity before bed. What’s more, when I wake up in the morning and I start to think about my day, one of the first things that pops into my mind, is the good from yesterday.

It’s like the magic elixir I need to start my day off with a smile!

The Original Book on Three Good Things and why it works.

What does this have to do with CHOICES we Make to BE Moms?

EVERYTHING!

Think about where you are today and where you want to be in 3, 5 or 10 years. What are you currently doing that is lined up with your values? What might you want to change? What might you want to keep the same?

Where do you feel stuck because of a miss-alignment of values and or strengths? Where do you have alignment that could benefit from the practice of gratitude?

How could you craft the job you have today, to better match the life you choose to live as a mother?

How can you use this new self knowledge, to find deeper meaning and a sense of satisfaction and purpose in your life today?

What Next

Now, if you discover that in spite of clarifying your values, and your strengths, that even when you practice gratitude, your particular job or line of work, remains out of alignment?

Another great survey is the Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin. If you find you *know* what you should be doing, but you have trouble taking action, understanding your tendencies may help you to complete the picture.

I am a “Obliger.” What are you?

Values, strengths, needs, gratitude, tendencies. Wow that is a lot. But what it makes is a foundation.

A solid foundation to explore what you want to build.

If you are not happy at work, you’ve got a good foundation to talk to your boss (even if that is YOU) about what you need in a job to be happy and about where you would like to go. Ideally, you can come into this meeting with a few constructive ideas to change your current work to better match your needs.

If you are happy with work, but want to be more intentional about your future, you again have built a solid foundation to set your vision.  

Maybe you read this piece not really knowing where you are or what is out of sync in your life. If that’s the case, maybe knowing your values and strengths has reminded you of a dream that you’d set aside, or decided wasn’t for you. Maybe now you want to bring this dream back to life or create a new one for the future.

Whatever you want to do, the underlying message in this piece is that it is TOTALLY POSSIBLE for YOU as a mom to craft a job and a life that fits what you need and value. Once you’ve got your solid foundation laid, you can explore building whatever you want in this life!

Reality for Mothers in our World Today

As women we do live, as they say, in the best of times and the worst of times. Doors and opportunities continue to open to us and to our daughters that couldn’t be enjoyed by previous generations. At the same time, we deal with new stresses, new pressures, feelings of isolation and the belief that we have to do it all and do it alone.

The truth is that no one has to do it alone and all humans belong. And that in sharing our challenges, we can find a sense of relief and sisterhood.

If you can honor your strengths and values, if you can be vulnerable enough to share your dreams and your challenges, you open the door for another woman to do the same, and in it all we can share our burdens and build a new future that honors our values and respects our choices as women and as mothers.

As a career coach, I lean on the field of positive psychology and human flourishing, to help my clients flourish. What’s more, I know that each woman that I help, takes her joy and flourishing out into her community, creating that beautiful butterfly effect that truly has the power to change the world.

So ladies, whether you chose to be a mom or not, do what you value, know your strengths, and understand your choices.

Be powerful.

When was the first time you consciously said yes or no to a career path or job because you knew you wanted to be a mom?

The first time I distinctly remember making a career choice based on my desire to be a mom was in late 2004 (I was 26). Newly engaged, I started to think about what my life would look like as a mom and a wife.

At the time I had a job I enjoyed working for a boss I loved; however, I knew that to remain happy I needed to continue to move up the ladder. In my current role as Front Office & Guest Services Manager, my destination job was as General Manager of a hotel.

All the GMs that I knew were men, but that hadn’t previously entered into my calculations. I’d started in my first hotel job at 18 and by age 22 I’d already created and managed a Guest Services department of Bellmen and Valets, most of whom were older than me and all of whom were male.

I’d chosen hotel life, because I am a “people first” kind of person; I loved the hands on management of staff, and I loved facilitating an environment in which our guests knew they were important, valued and welcome in “our home.”

What Makes a Family Friendly WorkPlace?

Not long after I’d put on my engagement ring; I received a call from my Night Auditor. They’d had a fire alarm and some issues closing accounts. At 1 AM I found myself crawling out of bed in the cold of Colorado winter night (thankfully no snow) to head into the hotel and get things sorted out.

By the time we finished up it was 4 AM and I had to be back at 7AM to greet a group of British Tourists, so I stayed a work (a perk of hotels is beds are easy to find). The more time I spent with my fiance and his 9 to 5 job, and suddenly the flexibility and perks of hotel life that I’d loved as a young single, didn’t seem to me like a good job for a mom and wife.

For better or worse, I quit, heading back to school to get a masters degree and with hopes I’d figure out another path. Instead, I faced a good 6 years of indecision followed by several more years of figuring it all out, restarting and stopping several careers, and getting divorced. along the way.

If only I’d known what I know now back then, I probably would have actually been quite happy to stay at the hotel. In this it wasn’t my job that was out of alignment, but my ideas about what family life should look like.

Core Values are Crucial

On one hand, I was smart to listen to my gut, when she told me that certain things were not aligned with my values. On the flipside, what I didn’t know was that many of my values were societal “I shoulds” and not actually my personal core values.

Another mistake I made, is that I thought I had to figure this all out on my own; had I sat down and had an honest chat with my GM (the proud dad of three kids) I might of started to understand my internal conflicts in a different light, but I didn’t.

Ultimately, I made big decisions based on what I thought I should be doing, verses on what I valued.

KNOWING YOUR STRENGTHS HELPS YOU UNDERSTAND YOUR NEEDS

Not only was I operating on miss-aligned values, I didn’t actually understand why I was good at certain things and why other things were always a push, nor did I understand what I really wanted out of a job, which was flexibility.

Like many “smart” people, I attribute my success to my smarts and hard work, not the subtleties of the different activities.  And, when I got bored at work, I immediately started to lose interest.

I’d been successful in the hotel biz, because my core strengths are strategy, adaptability, and communication. I have high empathy and appreciate a job well done. I am also high on input and learning, which means I need to variety (good in a hotel), and the opportunity to continually learn (hence my rapid movement from PBX operator to management).

What I needed in a job was that ability to continually grow, learn and contribute to strategy, while also honoring my personal needs for healthy living (fitness), and family time. If I’d been honest with my GM about these things, I am sure we could have figured out how to make it work. He was that kind of guy.

Determine Your Clifton Strengths 2.0 (Buy a new book or Kindle to get the code to take the online test)

Job Crafting: Understand and Voice Your NEEDs

If you are a woman that is already a mom or has the possibility of someday being a mom on her horizon here are a few things you can do to save yourself a lot of discomfort and indecision.

First, get clear on your values, your strengths, your needs and your interests. Instead of finding a *new* job or career, maybe you can figure out how to craft your current path meet you in the middle.

The first step to doing this clarifying your strengths, and values, so you can articulate where you want to go and what you need — essentially be clear about your hopes for the future.

In my case, looking back, when it comes to working in a hotel, even as the General Manager, the job is terribly flexible and actually a pretty awesome job for a family person (mom or dad). In reality, I likely would have been very happy in the role for a time (or a long-time), but I gave it up because I didn’t actually understand what I wanted or needed.

I should-ed all over myself!

Stop Should-ing on Yourself

One of the beauties of life is that for the most part we actually have a lot of discretion to choose what we do and when. Sure, we may say I ‘HAVE’ to get X done by tomorrow, but really we chose to get X done because we value the outcome or the outcome is directly linked to something we value.

That said, often when we get stuck or that dreaded anxiousness or pressure in our chest when we think of something we need to do, it’s often because it’s something that we think we *need* to do to be a good employee, a good friend, a good mom, a good human, but it’s not really something we value.

The question is, do we really value the activity and the outcome?

Perhaps you just said YES to baking 120 cupcakes for the bakesale at your kids school, because you couldn’t say “no” and you think that is what “good” moms do. Now you feel an insane pressure, because you also have a report to do for work, need to take the dog to the vet and who knows what else.

You suddenly spiral into insane evil mom, snapping at her kids, honking at the cars around you and generally feeling like the world is caving in on you. There is so much going on and it’s all out of your control.

What would happen if you stepped back, outside of yourself and looked at this a couple different ways?

OPTIONS

What are your options?

  1. You could call up the school and say you can’t deliver on the cupcakes.
  2. You could go buy 120 cupcakes and save yourself some time.
  3. You could call up your boss, explain that you are excited to bake 120 cupcakes for your kids school, ask for a 24-hour extension and promise to bring cupcakes to the office.
  4. You could call up the vet and see if you can reschedule/drop off the dog earlier or ask a neighbor to help.
  5. You could take a deep breath and say, I love baking (so I said yes), I’ve got my report mostly finished, I only need to do X, Y and Z.
  6. There are probably some other options I didn’t list.

Values

The point is, if you can step back from your situation and identify how your values line up with your life. Go through your day and your life and see where you can replace “I should” with I value” or where you can replace “I have to” with “I choose to.”

I shoulds are what OTHER people value, not you. I HAVE TO is a phrase that removes your personal agency.

If you can happily swap in “I value” or “I choose to” you are on the right track. If you cannot — you’ve just made a super important insight into what in your life may be holding you back. Knowing what you value makes it a heck of a lot easier to say no without guilt and to set your boundaries.

If you want to do more work on values. Deep work on values, I suggest working with a coach or reading Brene Brown’s book The Gift of Imperfection. Personally, I’ve benefited from both!

Strengths

Another big part of this puzzle is your strengths.

Many things that people ask us to do or that we think are easy to do, somehow tie back into our natural talents and strengths.

Maybe you always get asked to bake, because people know you love to bake, you enjoy baking, and you are GOOD at it. Maybe it’s EASY for you and you value good, healthy, from scratch cooking.

Maybe you always get asked to write reports, because you write good reports. You understand all the components, you make them easy to read, you structure things correctly, but you hate it.

Maybe you actually despise writing reports, but you value clear communication and a job done well, so you follow directions and you just happen to be a good writer. Maybe it takes you five times as long to write a report as it would for you to write a creative essay.

Maybe you hate the idea of someone else buying store bought cupcakes, but in reality your peace of mind and your ability to focus on the report for work is of more importance. Will the kids really care where the cupcakes came from? Or will they care more about the money the cupcakes raised to do X?

If you understand your strengths, you can start to understand why you excel in certain areas, and how even a strength in one area, can bolster your success in another. Integrate your strengths with your values and you start to see why some things bring you joy and others ulcers.

With my clients I use the Clifton Strengths 2.0. You need to buy a new book or Kindle to get the code to take the online test.

Gratitude

Another super powerful trick is to work your gratitude practice into the application of your values and strengths.

→ Maybe you can find more joy in writing a report if you understand that you value clear communication and you see that you can write good reports.

→ Maybe you can say “no” to baking 120 cupcakes and be grateful that someone else said yes, even if their cupcakes won’t be as good as yours.

→ Maybe you can do both and not be stressed, if you recognize that you made a CHOICE that is aligned with your values and your strengths; and that you are super grateful to have work you love and kids to bake cupcakes for….

The Magic of Gratitude

Gratitude gets a lot of play in the media, because there really is something to the “science of gratitude.” However, genuine gratitude is a real challenge to muster up when we feel we “should be grateful” and yet all we feel is the pressure of the “shoulds” and “have tos.”

Which leads to another distinction — there is a big difference between “being grateful” and “practicing gratitude.” I can sit here all day and say I am “grateful for this and grateful for that.” I am grateful I have food when others don’t, I am grateful I have a new car, I am grateful, I am grateful…

Having and practicing gratitude goes above and beyond the words. It’s a visceral experience in which are hearts are full and we get there by being clear on what we need, what we value, and in stopping to slow down and savor.

Practicing gratitude can look like slowing down as we walk down the front path, enjoying the warmth of sunshine, and the opportunity to take cupcakes to our kid’s school fundraiser. Recognizing that we made a choice and that we love contributing to something good.

Practicing gratitude can also be as simple as stopping to smile, say hello, holding open the door for someone carrying a plate of cupcakes. In this moment you can be grateful that you had an opportunity to for a moment, ease someone else’s path with a smile and a kind gesture.

Three Good Things

Before I go to bed at night, I personally really love the practice of gratitude that asks me to think of three good things that I contributed to during the day. These “things” can be big or tiny, the key is that I think of how I participated in the good.

Maybe I helped my daughter draw shoes on her princess. Maybe I thank the technician for a job well-done. Maybe I took some time for myself to enjoy my coffee in the sun or to do a yoga class.

My two favorite side-effects of doing gratitude this way is that by thinking about how I contributed to what I am grateful for, is that it really sticks with me and gives vibe of positivity before bed. What’s more, when I wake up in the morning and I start to think about my day, one of the first things that pops into my mind, is the good from yesterday.

It’s like the magic elixir I need to start my day off with a smile!

The Original Book on Three Good Things and why it works.

What does this have to do with CHOICES we Make to BE Moms?

EVERYTHING!

Think about where you are today and where you want to be in 3, 5 or 10 years. What are you currently doing that is lined up with your values? What might you want to change? What might you want to keep the same?

Where do you feel stuck because of a miss-alignment of values and or strengths? Where do you have alignment that could benefit from the practice of gratitude?

How could you craft the job you have today, to better match the life you choose to live as a mother?

How can you use this new self knowledge, to find deeper meaning and a sense of satisfaction and purpose in your life today?

What Next

Now, if you discover that in spite of clarifying your values, and your strengths, that even when you practice gratitude, your particular job or line of work, remains out of alignment?

Another great survey is the Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin. If you find you *know* what you should be doing, but you have trouble taking action, understanding your tendencies may help you to complete the picture.

I am a “Obliger.” What are you?

Values, strengths, needs, gratitude, tendencies. Wow that is a lot. But what it makes is a foundation.

A solid foundation to explore what you want to build.

If you are not happy at work, you’ve got a good foundation to talk to your boss (even if that is YOU) about what you need in a job to be happy and about where you would like to go. Ideally, you can come into this meeting with a few constructive ideas to change your current work to better match your needs.

If you are happy with work, but want to be more intentional about your future, you again have built a solid foundation to set your vision.  

Maybe you read this piece not really knowing where you are or what is out of sync in your life. If that’s the case, maybe knowing your values and strengths has reminded you of a dream that you’d set aside, or decided wasn’t for you. Maybe now you want to bring this dream back to life or create a new one for the future.

Whatever you want to do, the underlying message in this piece is that it is TOTALLY POSSIBLE for YOU as a mom to craft a job and a life that fits what you need and value. Once you’ve got your solid foundation laid, you can explore building whatever you want in this life!

Reality for Mothers in our World Today

As women we do live, as they say, in the best of times and the worst of times. Doors and opportunities continue to open to us and to our daughters that couldn’t be enjoyed by previous generations. At the same time, we deal with new stresses, new pressures, feelings of isolation and the belief that we have to do it all and do it alone.

The truth is that no one has to do it alone and all humans belong. And that in sharing our challenges, we can find a sense of relief and sisterhood.

If you can honor your strengths and values, if you can be vulnerable enough to share your dreams and your challenges, you open the door for another woman to do the same, and in it all we can share our burdens and build a new future that honors our values and respects our choices as women and as mothers.

As a career coach, I lean on the field of positive psychology and human flourishing, to help my clients flourish. What’s more, I know that each woman that I help, takes her joy and flourishing out into her community, creating that beautiful butterfly effect that truly has the power to change the world.

So ladies, whether you chose to be a mom or not, do what you value, know your strengths, and understand your choices.

Be powerful.

Be you.


Be you.

How to Succeed and Overcome the Fear of Failure

How to Succeed and Overcome the Fear of Failure

Let’s look at what it takes to design a career of purpose and freedom that delivers both fulfillment and allows you to create your own definition of success.

One of the most seemingly benign (or to some people annoying) and yet incredibly powerful questions that I ask of anyone struggling to find their direction is:

“If you could do anything and be assured success, what would you do?”

I get many different responses to this question.

Some people launch directly into their current path and goal. They’ve got an answer at the ready.


Some people pause, take a deep breath and launch into their dream vision, which they clearly desire and yet [currently] consider to be impossible.


Some people make an uncomfortable laugh and tell me something seemingly impractical, such as a desire to become Superman or be the first person to land on Mars.


Others give me a mixed story that hints towards their dreams and passions but is oddly undefined.


And some, you might be one, simply tell me they have no idea, they just want a good job with a nice work-life balance.

None of these replies qualify as the “right” answer, because there isn’t a single correct answer to this direction.

However, each response is telling, and as a career coach practitioner, it is sometimes the light in the person’s eyes, their choice of vocabulary, they way they make eye contact or avoid eye contact when they respond that is even more telling.

A Common Denominator

A common denominator in nearly all the replies, even the person who launches directly into their current goals, is that most people don’t really believe that they can do or achieve whatever they put their mind too.

Most adults qualify their goals based on what they’ve been taught is practical, logical, and safely achievable.

Society has led us to believe that a happy life is an easy life and that security is more desirable than risk and  that the people who dream big and succeed are simply LUCKY and that luck is not something that can be made or found, it just is.

10-Year Study on Lucky People

Happiness is not an Easy Life

And so, too many of us settle for a path of least resistance that meets our basic needs and that will supposedly deliver us happiness in the form of security, titles, and sufficient material wealth.

We are a “yes” culture that does as we’ve been told. We worry a lot about what we should or shouldn’t be doing or have or look like and then we wonder why, in our so called modern society, those of us living in countries ripe with freedom and success continue to see rising rates of depression and a culture that is terrified to fail.

And yet, life is not easy. Even those who succeed experience  pain and suffering in their lives. They lose loved ones, they fail, they get sick and sometimes they don’t want to get out of bed when the alarm goes off. Success and failure are both perfectly human.

At the same time, to feel courage you must also experience fear.

To win big, you must take a risk.

Happiness is not easy, hope itself requires that you’ve got a goal in mind that you are “hopeful” to achieve.

Hope itself even requires that you have a clear vision in mind that you know what you want and that you understand what you must do to achieve your goal, combined with the belief that you can make it happen.

So let me ask you this question and I want you to answer with HOPE:

If you could do anything and be assured success, what would you do? What is your desired life direction? Where do you really want to go? Who do you want to be?

Direction

What is “direction” and why is this question so telling? Direction gives us both purpose and inspiration, it helps us to prioritize what is good in our life and say no to the things that distract us or lead us down unhelpful paths.

Direction is a vision for who we are and who we hope to become. Many people have trouble with this question, because for so many years their dreams have been squashed, either by people in their lives or by their own fears and anxieties.

When a 40 year old answers the above question with “drinking cocktails on the beach” or “becoming an olympic gymnast” or anything else that is not grounded in reality, I hear in the response that this person is a bit lost and could benefit from finding her direction.

This person likely has a private dream or desire, but she is afraid. She is frozen. She thinks the effort or the money, the sacrifices or the special steps required to achieve this dream make it impossible. She lacks faith in herself and the universe and she fears what might happen is she tries and fails.

Fear

Humans are biologically programmed to be fearful, we are naturally inclined to display a negativity bias, to be watching for the lion or the leopard that might gobble us up around the next corner. However, in our daily lives, many of our fears are really “worse case scenarios” and statistically not likely to happen. Most of us don’t have lions in our backyards (except in Colorado, where I am from…ha!)

Our parents, our friends, our insurance agents and in particular our TV broadcasters set our daily programming to worry “what if.” We live in a society that conditions us to want everything and at the same time to give up before we start.

Why then do some people succeed? What makes a boss? I let you in on a little secret, the boss across the street or running that yoga studio or rapidly growing start-up  isn’t different from the rest of us in that she is invincible, perfect or that she lacks fear.

She is successful because she has faith in herself, she has hope and she has set her direction. She is aware of her fear, so aware that she identifies it and she sets a plan in place to step into that fear, finding her courage, making a plan, and forging ahead.

You cannot have courage without fear and vulnerability.

Permission

When we step into our fears and anxiety, when we push through to the otherside, we do risk failure, but at the same time we invite success.

John Lennon said, “Life is what happens when you are busy making plans.”

You can dream and plan all you like, but if you don’t take action, if you don’t pick a direction, life will pass you by.

But as John Lennon also said, “You’re just a human.”

So give yourself permission to be human. No one expects you to be Wonder Woman. You might make a mistake or drop a ball, but that’s okay. If you drop a ball, it means you are playing the game of life, not just sitting on the sidelines watching life go by.

Plan of Action

Which takes us to PLANNING and ACTION. If you’ve got a direction, if you’ve acknowledged your fears and given yourself permission to be human, then the next step to your success is to make a plan and take action. Even one tiny action per day can make a difference.

Baby steps lead to toddler steps lead to kid steps and so on. If you’ve got a dream, if you’ve got your direction, what steps can you take TODAY to make this a reality?

Whether you plan out your next ten years or your next 10 days — there are definitive small steps to take that will add-up and move you towards your goal.

Sometimes our direction or our overarching goal seems so big and complex that a useful trick is to work backwards. First identify where you’d like to be in 5 years (or 10 or 20!). Then identify where you might need to be with this goal in 3 years and then 2 years, working all the way back to where you stand with this goal today. Now that you’ve visualized your goal in reverse, you can lay out the ground work to move forward effectively.

What can you do today to move you towards this goal? Maybe it’s research, maybe it’s a phone call, maybe it’s signing up for a class or making a budget.

Now, what is one tiny thing you can do every day for the next 10 days, to move you in the right direction?

Reflection

An important part of achieving our goals and successfully moving in a direction that meets our hopes and desires, is taking the time to reflect and adjust. Indeed,  intentional living and cultivating long term life satisfaction doesn’t mean that you set your course and forge blindly ahead, never stopping to learn, listen or make adjustments. .

Note that I used the word reflect, not ruminate. You cannot change your past, but you can create your future. You can reflect on what is going right and what you could do better. You can learn from mistakes, but if you want to move forward to avoid wasting your time ruminating on your mistakes leave them in the past.

Reflection questions you might ask:

What have you done in the past that worked?

What might you do differently in the future?

What fears or anxieties continue to hold you up?

What have I done that has brought me the most joy/satisfaction/feelings of usefulness?

Am I living up to my vision for excellence?

Take the time to reflect. Even to meditate. And to rest.

Your Personal Compass

Remember that the direction — the path — you’ve chosen to follow is your path. And you can change your path. Perhaps you’ve spent the last three weeks or the last three weeks pursuing a particular path, but upon reflection you notice that you’ve changed or learned something new, maybe you need to modify your path and your direction.

That’s okay. That’s even good. Self-awareness, the permission to be human, intentional decision making are components of self-agency. Your path is yours. Set the direction that you want to go and define your own success.

Your success might be making enough money at a day job to travel wherever you wish on vacation. Your success might be to figure out how to raise your kids and work part-time or to be a stay-at-home-mom with no regrets. Your success might be to start your own business and never have kids, or to start that business in spite of your family obligations.

The Story of My Father the Artist

Every person is unique. Every direction is unique. What we all have in common is the desire to set our dreams in motion and make them happen. To step into our fears and to feel that rush of courage. To try or learn something new, to feel the progress and exprecience the progression in our life.

So, if you could do anything and be assured success, what would YOU do?

Please honor me with your hopes, as your advocate and your champion, I want to know. You can either comment below or email me, whatever you choose, tell me your answer!


If you want to know more about this subject and my story you can read “Who are you meant to be?” or my about page!