Women Breadwinners & the Early Start: 5 Ways to Get Your Day Off to a Fabulous Start!

wake upI’ve always said, “The way things start are the way they end…”  That comment has a multiplicity of meanings which I won’t go into in this post.  However, that point truly fits how you start your day.  If you’re like me, you’ve lived the evidence:  You wake up… 10 minutes late (the alarm didn’t go off or it did and you, in mid-sleep hit the snooze button).  You get out of bed and hit your big toe against your footboard, “Shit!” and you limp to the bathroom.  You look in the mirror and put on contacts.  Your last contact breaks and you’re stuck in glasses all day… and the rest of the day is… shitty.

Yes, the way you start your day has a powerful influence on your mood, your approach, your entire day.  Even in the scenario above, your attitude determines a lot but if you live in such a way that you live by the seat of your pants with no game plan for your morning, when crap hits the fan, you’ll succumb to the negativity.  There is a better way.

Decide, in advance, how you begin each day.  Make it a ritual (a habit with meaning).  Make it sacred.  Make it NON-NEGOTIABLE.  In other words, the first 10 minutes to 1 hour of your day needs to be about you: you getting centered, you feeling cared for, you honing in on your intentions for the day and how that fits into your entire life.  Yes, it’s big stuff.  So, here are 10 ways to get your day off to a fabulous start.  Pick one and see how great you feel after being consistent with it for 3 weeks (yes, I said 3 weeks; doing it for 3 days doesn’t count; be consistent!):

1. Wake up and meditate for 20 minutes.  Choose your music, your mojo, your method.  Quieting your mind and centering your soul is a wonderful way to begin the day, especially if your inner critic had a field day the night before.  Check out Deepak Chopra’s meditation center (lots of meditations available for free): http://www.chopra.com/library/guidedmeditations

2. Get outside and do your hour of power.  I learned this technique from Tony Robbins’ Ultimate Edge CD program.  Spend your first hour outdoors, walking, breathing, feeling gratitude, setting intentions, speaking out loud (as you move) how you want your day to go.  In his program, Tony walks you through it.  I go to the Santa Monica mountains and get my hike and hour of power done in one go.  Here’s a video on You Tube featuring Tony Robbins talking about getting to the next level in life: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ScuTtEa3UPo.

3. Hire the Heavens.  If you haven’t read Jean Slatter’s book Hiring the Heavens, google her and find out.  I spend 5 minutes every morning meeting with my Joy Committee and hiring my angels to help me with whatever I have on the agenda for that day.  When you hire the heavens, two things happen: 1) you get results, 2) you feel lighter (it’s an awesome feeling to know you can tell an angel what you need and let it go at that).  Don’t be a skeptic.  Read the book and try it for yourself.  Here’s Jean’s website: http://creativemystic.com/.

4. Listen to some good music as you drink your favorite am drink.  Coffee, tea, hot chocolate, green smoothie.  Add a jam to it that gets you pumping.  My favorite track is the Step It Up 3 Soundtrack.  When my husband first downloaded it, I thought to myself, “Yeah right!  I’m not 16 anymore.”  I have half of the songs of that soundtrack on repeat as I workout in the gym.   LOVE the energy it gives me!

5. Work out.  This is Body By Jake’s way to start his day.  Dwayne The Rock Johnson swears by it.  They’re both up at 4 am every day making it count in the gym.  Find time to get your body moving and strength training on.  One hour in the gym will add to your life and your wallet.  If you’re paying for a gym membership every month and not using it, it’s time to stop that.  Get back to the gym!

And there are 5 ways to get your day off to a fabulous start.

What are your ways to get your day off to a fabulous start? 

I look forward to your comments!

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Women Breadwinners & Priority Management: What Comes First? (Read Time: 3 min.)

busy womanI’ve spent the last week “trying” to get exercise back into my schedule.  Being a firm believer in Yoda’s quote, “Do or do not; there is no try”, I’m sure you can imagine how far “trying” has gotten me.  It’s Tuesday and I’ve made it to the gym ONE TIME this week (yesterday) and I certainly won’t make it to the gym today.  Knowing how the spiral of inconsistency in strength training works, I find myself saying (to myself): “You have got to work out!  You have got to work out! You have got to work out!”  And… I’m sitting in front of this laptop working on this post.  So… needless to say, allowing my inner drill sergeant to run the show is not the most effective way to get this goal met.

Women breadwinners everywhere face similar challenges: how to prioritize different, clearly critical life responsibilities or tasks, all within the confines of the same 24 hours a day, 7 days a week that we all have.

So… how do you do that?

5 simple, straight forward, highly effective steps:

1) Decide the area of life you’d like to move from the bottom of the priority list to the top.  For me, in this moment, it’s exercise (specifically strength training).

2) Look at your daily and weekly schedule.  What time are you best at?  What time would be your “prime time” for getting this priority taken care of?  What would you need to move around on your schedule to make this priority a TRUE priority so it actually would happen?

3) Shift the priority ON YOUR CALENDAR for the next 7 days.  Put it in writing.  Do this in 7 day increments so if you find that something didn’t work this week, you try something different next week.  In other words, as I’m writing this post, I’m putting my workouts ON MY GOOGLE CALENDAR and that Google calendar syncs with my android phone.  I’ve even got reminders set up to let me know where I’m supposed to be and when.

4) Make this new priority a NON-NEGOTIABLE.  In other words, decide and commit to the idea that if nothing else were to get done in your day, THIS will get done… and stick to it.

5) Keep track of your progress over a 6 week period.  In other words, develop a consistency tracker.  I use a poster board and mark off each day using a highlighter.  You can use an app as easily as you can pen and paper but you need a consistency tracker that you will be able to look at everyday when you get up and before you go to bed.

At the end of the day, the truth is the truth, whether we ignore it or not and here’s the truth:

We make time for the things that are important to us.

#thatisall

Why I’m Afraid to Be MORE Powerful… and the 7 Steps I’m Taking to Get Over That (Read Time: 4 min.)

powerfulI was at the gym this morning lifting weights for the first time in a LONG time and it felt wonderful… and, as I left Equinox, I found myself wondering two things:

1) Why did I stay away from consistent weight training for so long (it’s been 2 years since I last strength trained consistently for at least 6 months)?

2) What’s keeping me from doing those things that I KNOW will take my life and my power to the next level? 

And then my inner critic chimed in: “You’re just not disciplined enough… You say you want it but you don’t do it… You drop the ball on this one area of your life because you don’t see the value of it EVEN THOUGH you know where it “should” go on the priority list.”  My inner critic had a field day this morning… and as I moved through some morning errands, thinking about the two or three areas in my life that I REALLY want to see change but haven’t been taking consistent, persistent steps, I came to an epiphany I hadn’t come to before: I am afraid to be MORE powerful.

See, it’s not power that frightens me because I love power.  I love being able to say what I need to say and do what I need to do and I’m not afraid to ask for what I want I want and guess what?  Even when people say no, I make sure I get it.  So claiming and using power is not the issue.  But when it’s time to go from being an supporting character to the star, there’s anxiety around that shift, even when the movie is the story of your own life.

So I’m sitting with this new understanding of myself: I am afraid to be MORE powerful.  I am afraid to be on top of my game 24/7, letting everyone know it, showing it, walking it, talking it, vibrating at a high level consistently and persistently.  I’m afraid to go for broke in certain areas of my life, especially the areas where I’ve failed before.  I am afraid to declare it and share it.  I’m afraid to want certain things because a part of me wonders if those things are REALLY for me and, even if they are, will they REALLY bring me joy?  I’m afraid to give ALL I have to ALL I’m doing in those two to three areas of my life that aren’t working because, on some level, I fear that I can’t do it all, that I won’t be able to keep the high performance in the areas I’ve focused on as I spread my focus and drive to the areas I haven’t been focusing on.  At the end of the day, it all comes down to this:

I am afraid that I AM NOT ENOUGH… AND I’m afraid that even if I am, THAT won’t be ENOUGH to fulfill me.

How’s that for a double-edged sword?

So now that I get why I’m afraid to be more powerful, what do I do to work through it? 

Since this is a new epiphany and I don’t have the history of months or years to show you results, I can give you the path that I’m embarking upon.  Join me if you choose.  Stepping into MORE power, for me, requires doing some key things in the areas of my life that I’m not happy with:

  1. Name my fear (I just did that in this post).
  2. Embrace my fear (I just explored that in this post and as I walked through the grocery store this morning).
  3. Make a commitment (Even though I feel like NOT enough, I’m going to commit to taking daily action in those 2-3 areas that bug me and NOT give up when I falter, fail, or have a setback).
  4. Stop looking back (the woulda/shoulda/couldas got to go!).  Instead of focusing on all of the things that I should’ve done, I’m going to continually refocus my attention on the one thing I CAN do RIGHT NOW.
  5. Expect imperfection.  That perfection monster gets me EVERY time.  Instead of expecting to do EVERYTHING right, I’m going to institute what John Maxwell calls a failure quota.  I’m going to plan to fail forward at least 5 times a day for EACH of the 2-3 areas I’m working on.  At the end of each day, I’ll do a mental inventory of how I failed forward and what I learned from that.
  6. Forgive myself for anything and love myself for everything.  In other words, I am ready to let go of who I used to be, to stop driving my daily agenda by who I think I’m supposed to be, and to finally start loving who I am right now knowing that every experience led me here and every thought in the present will take me there and I’m guided divinely and completely every step of the way.  It’s the ultimate form of surrender to be able to treat myself in a way that honors the truth: I don’t have to suffer to grow.
  7. Expect great things to happen daily and when crappy things happen, chock it up to information, insight, or a lesson… and let it go in the moment it happens.

It won’t be easy but it will be worth it…

Women Breadwinners & Sheryl Sandberg: The Problem With Leaning In

sheryl sandberg 2The debut of Sheryl Sandberg’s book, “Lean In” has made a tremendous splash in the media.  It has everyone talking.  Although I haven’t read the book in full as of yet, I’ve watched many of Sheryl’s interview as well as her TED Talk that inspired the book.  At first glance, I love her message.  It’s empowering, inspiring, and exactly the catalyst for a dialogue about feminism and women’s rights that is long overdue.  But… when I dive in a little deeper and read the articles and points brought about by Sandberg’s critics, it leaves me with more questions than answers… and that, for women breadwinners, is a great thing.

For the woman breadwinner, the problem with leaning in isn’t simply that we are already doing that but that we have learned how to do it so well that far too many of us lean in, achieve a lot, and find ourselves just as unhappy as our mothers or grandmothers were in being stuck in the house raising kids.  So the question becomes: where’s the happy medium?  How do women breadwinners run the show, be present in the home, and still lean in?  And that’s where the problem with leaning in shows up…

Women breadwinners are a powerful group of women.  They know how to achieve.  They know how to produce results.  They know how to work hard.  So, in looking more deeply at the idea of “leaning in”, here are 3 problems I see for women breadwinners who are going to take Sheryl’s message to heart:

  1. Changing the meaning is more important than altering the message.  In her video clips, Sheryl talks about women who don’t own their success, who attribute their achievements to the support of others, luck, or hard work.  She talks about the fact that women need to own their success as fully as men do.  For the woman breadwinner, it’s not simply a matter of owning her success.  A woman can change how she speaks about her success but that doesn’t guarantee others’ approval of her ownership of that success.  More powerful than what she attributes success to is the direction women breadwinners leverage failure and rejection in.  In other words, owning success isn’t half as important as knowing what to do with the criticism, rejection, and disapproval of people in power who may turn a woman breadwinner down from a position she deserves, who may tell her that she’s not “right” for a position she knows she’s overqualified for, and who may steal her ideas and claim them as her own.  The true test of success is knowing how to leverage all of these negative experiences and take decisive action to get from where she is to where she wants to be.
  2. Sandberg’s message provides no roadmap for women who’ve made poor marriage and partnership choices.  Napolean Hill talked about the fact that one’s choice in a marriage partner is VITAL to building wealth and living a happy life.  Sandberg’s message on choosing the right partner is centuries old.  But what about the women breadwinners who’ve chosen partners who aren’t true partners?  Or those women breadwinners who are single mothers and don’t have partners?  Or those women breadwinners who have gotten so used to doing everything on their own that they’re now struggling to balance the power dynamic in their marriage and work through the troubles that led them to a place of overwhelm and disappointment?  Sandberg’s argument says “Choose a real partner” but provides no roadmap or suggestions on how to take corrective action if you did not do that.  Saying “a man who washes the dishes gets more sex” is not a practical tip for the woman breadwinner.
  3. The proof of success is pointed in the opposite direction of fulfillment and satisfaction for many women breadwinners.  In other words, leadership and ambition do not necessarily equal happiness.  Women may not be going after the C suite or the seat on the executive board not from a lack of ambition but from a deep inner knowing that the life that they want looks very different from the high adrenaline, long hours executive style life that exists at the top of the corporate ladder.  Kathy Ireland said it best: “Why take a seat at someone else’s table when you can own your own?”  Many women breadwinners are learning that they don’t have to sit at someone else’s table and they are learning how to own their own.

At the end of the day, Sheryl Sandberg’s message is vital… and flawed.  It’s for some and not for all.  The key is to take from it what empowers and question the rest.  The questions will draw from your inner knowing the answers only you can give…

Women Breadwinners: Are We Teaching Our Daughters to Lean In? (Read Time: 4 min.)

mom daughterI’m the mom of a 6 year old daughter.  I’m also a woman breadwinner.  On a daily basis, I know that I teach my daughter how to say “Please” and “Thank you.”  I make sure her homework gets done and it’s done well.  I make sure she can outreadand outperform her peers, that she’s independently able to do her homework, and that when I give her instructions on how the work’s supposed to be done, she can follow them to the tee.  I also make sure that she goes to school looking presentable, that she refrains from hitting others, and that she knows how to be “nice.”  I do all of that understanding that I’m raising a daughter who has to grow up and one day become a lady.  At the same time, I’m raising her with an expectation of excellence that will give her the foundation for success.  However, as I sat this morning, and read the introduction of Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In, it dawned on me that while I’m preparing my daughter for life, I may not be preparing her well for climbing the corporate ladder… and maybe it’s because I don’t know that climbing the corporate ladder is the most powerful thing she can do with her life.

What if the “dream” of gender equality our mothers sold us as children is not the reality we’re living? 

What if, at the end of the day, we know we need a new vision for womanhood

and equality but we don’t yet know how to create it or pass it on to our daughters? 

What if we’re running out of time to come up with that new vision?

And therein lies the dilemma for women breadwinners: 

We know how to succeed and we know how to be powerful but do we believe that the accomplishment and success we now experience is equivalent to a life twe’d actually want our daughters to have?

Not necessarily…

When Sheryl Sandberg indicates that “the blunt truth is that men still run the world”, women have to stop and ask themselves, “How is that still true?”  With more women graduating from college and fewer women opting for the marriage/children route, how is it possible that women still underearn, still play second fiddle, and still show up in the executive meetings and on the board way less than men?  What role do women breadwinners have in making sure that this sad reality is not the truth of life for our daughters?

The answers is simple:

We need to raise daughters who aren’t afraid to dream big, be bold, and unapologetically go after what they want and we need to raise sons who are secure enough to support wives, sisters, and daughters who dream big, are bold, and are unapologetically achieving their goals.  As Sheryl puts it, “A truly equal world would be one where women ran half our countries and companies and men ran half our homes.”

How do women breadwinners help birth this new ideal?

5 Ways:

1) Let your husbands lead at home.  So often, we want to do it all: homework, bathtime, bedtime, and work 60 hours a week.  It’s time we renegotiated the roles, allowed men to step up to the plate in terms of housework, homework, and cooking, and made it okay for us to be focused on career and wealth acquisition as our mates keep the focus on the home.

2) Make your professional aspirations and achievements critically important to the entire family and don’t apologize for doing so.  Create a monthly family meeting where everybody sits down to discuss the family’s goals for the year AND how your work fits into the larger picture.  Involve everyone in your professional and personal pursuits by developing a family vision that includes your dreams as a key contribution to achieving family goals.

3) Focus on quality family presence, not quantity based family time.  So often, women breadwinners stretch themselves thin by trying to be everything to everyone.  Get good with the fact that you will miss PTA meetings.  There will be recitals that you won’t be able to attend.  You might have to watch a game via a You Tube video after the fact.  Stop measuring your parental success based on how much time you spend.  Focus on developing quality time and the quantity won’t matter.

4) Go for broke.  Caroline Myss, in an audio lecture on self esteem, says the following: “Go for broke.  I want to die of exhaustion, not of old age.”  Waiting for life to happen is a sure fire way to let life pass you by.  At some point, you have to decide whether you’re going to live on fire or live lukewarm.  If you’re deciding to live on fire, you’ll have to give ALL you have to ALL you do.  Go for broke and do your best for YOU (no one else).

5) Teach your daughters that they have the right AND the responsibility to use their God-given talents and take their professional and personal dreams to the highest level possible.  In doing this, we have to teach our daughters that their ambitions are gifts, that their aspirations do not have to cost them their personal lives, and that they may not be able to have it all at the same time but they can have it all if they leverage each step throughout their lifetimes.  We need to raise our daughters with the same level of confidence, deservability, and self worth as we do our sons.

Are You With Me or Not? Women Breadwinners, Inner Circles, & Spouses Who Aren’t On Board (Read Time: 3 min.)

couple 2Ambitious… Overachiever… Focused… Type A… Super organized… Take charge… Soaring to success…

Most women breadwinners can relate to at least one of the above descriptions.  It’s the world of women who take on the role of breadwinner.  They are responsible for a lot of the major decisions, carry the weight of financially providing for the family, and, oftentimes, still come home to cook dinner and do the dishes.  Given the increasing numbers of women who outearn men, it’s a common dilemma to see a woman breadwinner say to her spouse (as she considers a new promotion, a relocation, or a total career shift): “Are you with me or not?”

That’s a loaded question.  It’s filled with accusation, rife with blame, and an easy argument starter… and, yet, it represents a deep wound for women breadwinners who feel like the one person who’s supposed to have their back is actually (in some unconscious or subconscious way) trying to hold them down.  Whether the accusation is well founded or not, the issue is clear: her ambitions clash with his expectations.

So what does a woman breadwinner do when she finds that the partner she has isn’t on board with the achiever she is?

How do women breadwinners balance the need for success with the desire to please?

Can there be harmony among the different parts of a woman breadwinner’s life when each part is fighting voraciously for her time and attention?

Here’s the answer:

It’s complicated…

For all the recommendations I could give you about having open lines of communication, discussing partner expectations, and agreeing upon family structure, professional pursuits, and the balance between the two, the truth is this: oftentimes, people go into a relationship wanting one thing but saying another.  Oftentimes, people begin a relationship thinking they want one thing but really needing something completely different.  And the fallout happens when the truth of what people really want and need clash with the reality of what the other partner is willing to give.  People grow and change… and not always together.

So… what do you do when your dreams clash with your partner’s needs (or vice versa)?

Here are 5 things you can do:

1) Identify the size of the gap.  How wide is the gap between what you want and what your partner needs?  What collaborative solutions can the two of you generate that can result in somewhat of a WIN-WIN?  If there aren’t any, how long have you known this and how have you communicated your needs to your partner?  How was this received?

2) Assess the options.  There are AT LEAST 1,000 ways to get any one thing done.  Because this is true, mind map AT LEAST 25 solutions to this issue.  Write out 25 ways you can get your needs met while also helping your partner get his needs met.  Before you can find a solution, you need to know your options.

3) Get your support elsewhere.  Your partner may not always be your biggest fan.  If your dream is something you NEED to pursue, find a way to do so with or without your spouse’s support.  Your spouse may co-sign on the dream but may not be the best person to nurture it.  Create an inner circle of 3-5 people who can help nurture your dream.  Remember: don’t share your vision with people who can’t see (oftentimes, it’s the people closest to us who can’t SEE our dreams.  Don’t hate them for it; understand them and find other people who can SEE.).

4) Don’t take your spouse’s fear personally.  Your spouse’s reservations, at the end of the day, come from your spouse’s fear.  Do not take his/her fears personally.  It is not your job to own your spouse’s fear.  It is your job to listen to your inner knowing, follow your path, and feel your own fear and do it anyway.  Let your spouse work through his/her fears and inadequacies.  You have enough trying to work through your own.  Acknowledge your spouse’s concerns, feel empathy for them, but do not get sucked in by them.  Your spouse’s fear is not your issue and there is nothing you can do that will fix their fear unless they are willing and ready to.

5) Selectively communicate your actions constantly.  There’s a tendency to alienate a partner who isn’t supportive.  Don’t do it.  Not only will it increase his/her fear, it’ll put you in a power struggle that will pull energy away from your dream.  Rather than isolating your spouse as you pursue your dreams, communicate your movement towards your dreams constantly.  Communicate the wins.  Communicate the steps.  Communicate the progress.  DO NOT, however, communicate the losses or the setbacks.  If your spouse isn’t supportive, give no fuel to his fire by talking about all the things that are going wrong.  Focus on the positive, give him/her the updates consistently, and you might find yourself pleasantly surprised by added layers of support as time goes on.  Remember: proximity brings with it familiarity.  Keep your spouse in the loop.

At the end of the day, your destiny is based on your decisions.  Do not turn over your power to ANYONE else.  Your spouse deserves a say but he/she does not get to dictate what you do or do not pursue.  Follow your path and keep in mind that you don’t choose your calling; your calling chooses you…

When Life Storms Hit, Do You Bend or Break? (Read Time: 3 min.)

thinking 1“Life happens…”

It’s cliche but true.  Plan all you want.  Make up every To-Do list possible but the best laid plans are laid to rest.  Don’t get me wrong.  Planning in life is key.  It’s the way you take the temperature of your life (Am I closer to where I want to be?  Is this how I want my  life to go?).  Far too often, people live their lives in planning mode and get crushed when their beautiful, perfect plans don’t work out.  What they fail to realize is that life isn’t about planning; it’s about living.  Success isn’t about having a plan work out perfectly.  Success is living victoriously, despite the plan not working.  So… as a woman breadwinner, with so much on her plate, so much to consider, and even more to delegate, when a life storm hits, how do you respond?

Do you bend or do you break?

In a book called “The Gift of Change”, Marianne Williamson states the following:

“I’ve noticed in myself that if something small and ultimately meaningless has gone wrong – I can’t find the file I left on top of my desk, my daughter failed to do what I asked her to do before going to a friend’s house- I can easily get rattled.  But if someone calls to inform me of a serious difficulty- someone has been in an accident, or a child is in trouble- I notice a profound stillness come over me as I focus on the problem.  In the former case, my temptation to become frantic does not attract solutions, but rather hinders them.  There is nothing in my personal energy that invites help from others, nor do I have the clarity to think through what I need to do next.  In the latter case, however, all of my energy goes toward a higher level of problem-solving: my heart is in service to others, and my mind is focused and clear.  When I am at the effect of the problem, I become part of the problem.  When I am centered within myself, I become part of the solution.  And that phenomenon, multiplied many times over, is the foce that will save the word.  When things in the world are troubling, our need is not to join the chaos, but to cleave to the peace within.  The only way to gain power in a world that is moving too fast is to learn to slow down.”

Marianne speaks to exact qualities that separate the women breadwinners who bend when life storms hit from the women breadwinners who break.

How do you become the one who bends and flows when life storms hit?

Here are 3 ways:

1) When a life storm hits, get quiet.  Go within.  Give yourself at least 24 hours to allow the initial anxiety, frustration, worry and panic to subside.  In 99% of all situations, you AT LEAST have 24 hours to consider your options.  Give yourself that time.

2) Get centered within yourself.  Remind yourself how powerful you are.  Remind yourself that you are the solution, not the problem.  Use affirming self talk that returns you to a place of power, a place from which you can craft creative and resourceful solutions.

3) Expect to receive ample support.  The Universe will support you if you believe it.  People will say ‘Yes’ to your needs if you ask.  There are AT LEAST 1,000 ways to get any one thing done.  Do not give up on finding a solution until you have LITERALLY tried 999 things.

At the end of the day, life storms will come.  Decide in advance that no matter what happens, you will still be the last woman standing.  What you believe becomes true for you EVERY time…

Are You Running On Empty? How to Overcome the Pattern of Self-Neglect (Read Time: 3 min.)

School 8When more is asked of you than you can give, how do you respond?

When you feel like you’re burning the candle at both ends and quickly losing steam, what do you do?

When you hear your body screaming for rest but you push it to keep going, what is usually the outcome?

When I coach women breadwinners and every third session begins with a report of a new cold, flu, illness, or complete stress attack, I find myself wondering, “What is it with this neverending cyle of burnout?”  And I’m not speaking as a coach.  I’m talking as a woman who too rides that wave of taking on more than she can chew, staying up later than she needs to, burning the candle at both ends, being forced to rest, resenting the rest the whole time, finally giving in to sleep, and, after a few days, beginning again.  It’s a vicious cycle and it rarely produces the performance level we expect it to.

All of this running on empty leads eventually to a place called burnout.  Burnout is a form of physical, psychological and spiritual abuse of the self.  It’s a way of reinforcing the “not good enough” belief by driving yourself to work harder than your body can handle for longer than it ought to at a pace that you know you cannot physically sustain for long periods of time.  By pushing your body to the brink, you create a self-fulfilling prophecy where your inner critic gets the pleasure of saying, “See?  I told you you couldn’t get all of this done… You’re so weak… You aren’t up to the task… Oh yeah, wait til they see you fail…”  All of that inner taunting leads us to go harder, faster, for longer and, before we know it, here comes the flu… and four days in bed.

What this all boils down to is a pattern of self-neglect, a pattern that reinforces a deep sense of unworthiness and an even deeper belief that your best will never be good enough.  It’s pervasive in women and especially noticeable in women breadwinners who live on the go and find themselves feeling guilty for not being able to be stellar in every area of their lives all of the time.

So how do you get rid of this pattern of self neglect?

How do you stop running on empty?

1) Identify where the deprivation is coming from.  In a wonderful book called “The Art of Extreme Self-Care”, Cheryl Richardson asks some powerful questions about deprivation: “Where do I feel deprived?  What do I need more of right now?  What do I need less of?  What do I want right now?  What am I yearning for?  Who or what is causing me to feel resentful and why?  What am I starving for?”  Journal your responses to those questions.  Before you can develop solutions, you have to know what the REAL problem is.

2) Clear the decks.  If you’re running on empty, you’re doing too much.  You’ve got too much on your plate and it’s time to let some stuff go.  If it won’t matter a year from now, the task that’s got you stressed out needs to be in someone else’s hands, on someone else’s minds, or completely out of your life.  Although you will disappoint others when you say ‘No’, saying ‘No’ is a requirement if you’re going to have peace of mind.  Keep ONLY what is important and valuable to you on your daily agenda.

3) Ask for help.  Asking to have your needs met is strength, not weakness.  Stop expecting other people to read your mind.  Stop thinking that other people will jump to your rescue the same way you jump to theirs.  People will live up to expectation you have for them and if you ask for nothing, to them, it means you need nothing.  Ask… and you shall receive.  And if you ask and someone doesn’t reciprocate, keep a mental note of that the next time that person is trying to incovenience and stress your life to get their needs met.  Friendship is a two way street.

4) Give yourself space to breathe.  You need time to yourself.  You need time to simply BE.  That can happen in a forest.  It can happen in a hot shower but if you’re burnt out and stressed beyond belief, the last thing you need is to be surrounded by people who are pulling for your time (even if they are the people you love most).  Take time away for yourself.  Just you… Don’t worry.  You’ll love the company.

Did this post help?  Pass it on and share it with other women breadwinners you know:)