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Little Wins for Working Women

6a00e551f1f515883300e553ed41008834-320piHave you ever felt like you’re juggling so many things you can’t possibly be doing a good job of any of them? In the women’s forums I run for organisations and community groups, this theme emerges every time. Women talk about the challenges they face being the significant minority in their leadership team; of personal and professional lives at cross-purposes; of the guilt they experience from wanting to off-ramp or to on-ramp (you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t!); and of the pressure they feel to conform with the male-oriented stereotypes of the business world.

Sound familiar?

Of course I’m not talking about your average, run of the mill women here. The women I work with are successful by any measure. They are entrepreneurs and business owners; managers, general managers and department heads; senior associates, directors and partners of professional firms. They’ve achieved career success, in many cases beyond their own expectations. And on the whole, they have rich friendships, loving family relationships and personal interests that complement their professional achievements. If you’d asked them as children what they wanted to be when they grew up, many couldn’t have imagined they’d have such rich and fulfilling lives.

So why do so many working women feel a sense of failure?

Perhaps failure is too strong a word, but it’s certainly the sentiment expressed in my forums. It seems to me that for many working women, anything less than perfection (in every single element of our lives) does in fact conjure up feelings of failure. Which is crazy! Ask any motivational expert and they’ll tell you to focus on the positives, but when you’re caught up on the treadmill it sure can be hard to see the wood for the trees.

We are so hard on ourselves. But why? Well having spent a few months pondering this question, I’ve come up with 5 key factors (I’m sure there’s many more – feel free to post a comment with your ideas):

  1. Marketers have done a wonderful job of convincing us that more is better. It’s no longer good enough to be good in one area (eg work); we also expect to be perfect in all others (eg cooking, housekeeping, gardening, yoga, parenting, language classes, postgraduate degrees and the list goes on!)
  2. We live in a world where only the biggest, hairiest, most audacious goals are considered worthy of pursuit. No one thinks about the little wins any more.
  3. There are very few female role models to show us the way. Most of our peers are men who have stay at home partners to manage their personal lives. And the few women at the top have the reverse. So who is leading the way for women who are going it alone, or whose partners also work?
  4. There’s a general reluctance to speak out about how tough many women find juggling their work and home commitments. So we all think we’re the only in meltdown. No, you’re not alone.
  5. Women are generally nowhere near as good as men at asking for help. Instead, they keep taking extra things on until – inevitably – there’s a straw that breaks the camel’s back.

As a community, we need to speak out about the challenges and the successes we experience in our personal and professional lives. The challenges are important, because it reminds each of us that others are going through the same things. And the successes are equally important, because they remind us of all the little wins we have every day. It also encourages other women to think about the positivity in their lives, and since success breeds success, it brings more wins everyone’s way!

My little win this week is the arrival of my first book, Little Wins for Working Women: a gift of inspiration for when the going gets tough.

Little wins is a hardcover gift book and a treasure chest of advice, insights and practical strategies to ensure every day of your life is filled with success. It’s about celebrating your every day achievements and recognising the little things that make a big difference.

When things don’t go to plan, when you’re feeling frustrated or inadequate, or you’re finding it hard to push on, this book encourages you to celebrate all the little wins that contribute to your seriously successful life. It’s a tribute to each of you who dare to pursue the dream of having it all, and serves as a reminder that you are all winning in so many ways.

I hope you’ll find inspiration from it on those days when things don’t quite go to plan!

Little Wins is available online now.

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