If “they” leave you, let them… (Read Time: 3 min.)

srts-blog-post-72“They”… Who are “they” anyway?  Even though we don’t seem to be able to answer that question, there are a lot of “they” who seem to be keeping us connected to situations, experiences, and drama that we really don’t need… and you’d think the situation would improve when “they” leave our lives… Quite the contrary.

For many overachieving, highly successful, driven women entrepreneurs, being left feels like a slap in the face, a failure of sorts, something that they don’t know how to rationalize or recover from.

So what do you do when you’ve been left (by a client, fired from a job, walked out on by a spouse, abandoned by a friend, rejected by a family member) physically but are still holding onto the situation emotionally and spiritually?

How do you let go when everything inside you keeps fighting to hold on?

Here’s what you do:

You love it until IT lets YOU go…

 

Give me a minute here…

There are 3 things about this concept that you want to take hold of:

  1. What’s for you won’t pass you by.  If that client, job, career, or relationship had REALLY been for you, it would’ve stayed and it would’ve produced good fruit.  Anything that stays in your life but brings you down or leaves your life and leaves you feeling low is NOT something that is meant for you.  When you truly get this understanding, you allow things to be what they are without feeling the need to push boulders uphill or go kicking and screaming into the night.  You love what is, you accept what is and, as things unfold, you embrace the adventure of it.  That doesn’t mean the pain goes away; it simply means you’re unwilling to magnify it.
  2. Go with the season you’re in.  There are seasons and reasons to everything.  Rather than fighting the season you’re in, flow with it.  Allow there to be the natural ups and downs that come with life.  Embrace them.  Remember: you NEVER have to chase what’s for you.  It will come on its own.  What’s not for you will leave on its own.  You don’t have to control anything to usher in what’s for you.  You do, however, have to be open and aware of what season you’re in.  Be present in THIS season and allow it to unfold as it needs to.  The key here is trust: trust in yourself, trust in the process, and trust in the timing of your life.  If you don’t have trust, you will cling and grasp and lose everything you are trying to hold onto…
  3. You won’t get more until you stop giving space to less.  There will be no room in your life to receive what you REALLY want if you continue to hold onto the things, people, and experiences that are far below what you deserve.  The scarcity associated with clinging to anything because you’re afraid of having nothing is a painful way to live.  The second you begin to trust and know that better is ALWAYS on its way is the second you start to let things go with ease.  Why?  Because you understand it takes the act of faith of opening up space in your life to receive and embrace better in your world.  #BOOM

If you (like so many of us) have trouble letting go, listen to an episode of She Runs The Show that speaks more to this issue… how to love and let things go.

Click HERE to listen.

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Are You Living a Gorgeous Life? (Read Time: 2 min.)

Tangia picAre you living a gorgeous life?  

Does your physical and mental state reflect your level of well-being and abundance? 

Or is there something missing?  

I interviewed Tangia Al-awaji Estrada, health coach and Creator of Hello Gorgeous Fitness (http://www.hellogorgeousfitness.com) on the She Runs The Show podcast and we dished about health, fitness and why we don’t treat our bodies like the temples they are.

At one point, Tangia broke it down:

“You have to take a scan of your life… Have a dialogue with yourself about how you feel in your body.  How do you feel in your body? When was the last time you felt good and what were you doing when you felt that way?  When was the last time you really felt bad about yourself?”

Hmm… When was the last time you asked ANY of those questions?

The reality is this:

What we feel on the inside ALWAYS manifests on the outside.  If you’re ready to create a gorgeous life (physical, mental, spiritual, and entrepreneurial), you must listen to this amazing episode with Tangia.

Be sure to follow Hello Gorgeous Fitness on Instagram at http://www.instagram.com/HelloGorgeousFitness and visit the site at http://www.HelloGorgeousFitness.com.

–>Click HERE to listen to this She Runs The Show Episode<–

3 Things You Aren’t Doing in Your Business Because of Fear (Read Time: 4 min.)

fear natureYou have this amazing business idea… or this inspiring start-up…

You’ve got some resources, tools, and you’re ready to make 2015 the BIGGEST year in business yet!

But something’s got you stalled… You’re not sure what it is or why you feel stuck but, on some level, it feels like for every step you take forward, you take two steps back… or you don’t take any steps at all.

Sound familiar?

The process of creating, building and growing a business is like conceiving a child: it takes time, effort, energy and A LOT of patience.

I’ve never been much of a gardener but the tomato plant example makes perfect sense to me:

When you plant a tomato in the ground, you don’t wake up the next day and run to the back yard expecting to see a ripe, red tomato.  You don’t go to the garden day after day cursing the ground out, saying, “Where the heck’s my tomato?”  No, you trust that the seed you planted, if properly nurtured and supported, will eventually grow ripe, red tomatoes.  You know that they won’t look that way at first.  You get that growing tomatoes takes time and track the growth, look out for progress and celebrate every sign of it.  When a green stalk or leaf sprouts, you’re thrilled.  When you see a tiny green tomato, you jump for joy and when the green tomatoes get bigger and turn red, you’re exhilarated.

That’s how we treat tomatoes… so why aren’t we taking the same approach to our businesses?

One answer: FEAR…

Fear is normal, natural, and bound to happen so you’re not going to read this article as a means of extinguishing fear.

Fear isn’t meant to be extinguished.  

It’s mean to be understood.

What I am going to tell you are 3 things you aren’t doing in your business because of fear… and 3 steps you can take to stop allowing the fear to keep you (and your business stuck).

Here we go…

#1 Thing you aren’t doing in your business because of fear: Marketing Yourself

Oooh ooh ooh… I went to the big bad wolf first!  When you are afraid of being seen, known, or judged, you play small in the world.  Many of us have immense talents and gifts to share.  It’s why we created a business.  However, as soon as the web site is up and the blog is created, we start to become shy.  It isn’t shyness ladies; it’s fear.  We’re afraid that we’re not good enough, afraid that we’re really a dime-a-dozen, afraid that no one will buy OR that lots of people will buy and then will hate what we have to sell.  No matter what the source of the fear, we play small in terms of marketing and promotion and then wonder why are businesses aren’t thriving.  Look at some of the hot shots in your industry.  The reason they’re at the top of their game is because they know three things that the fear of marketing yourself will keep you from believing:

1) They have something amazing to offer

2) People need what they have to offer

3) It would be an absolute disservice for them not to offer it

When you get clear on the above 3 principles, you start feeling less self-conscious and more service-focused.

Remember: Marketing involves sales but it also involves education and service.  

If you don’t like being salesy, focus on the service and education part and put yourself out there…

#2 Thing you aren’t doing in your business because of fear: Getting Help

Let’s face it.  Male entrepreneurs, in general, have a stronger and longer track record of delegating responsibilities, creating teams, and hiring help.  For some reason, as women, we’re still living in the “I can do it all!” phase of life.  It’s simply not true.  If you’re going to grow your business by leaps and bounds, you need a team.  Even in the very beginning phases of your business, if money will not allow for you to hire a personal assistant or a VA, you need to work with your family to delegate tasks like laundry, cooking, and cleaning to family members so you can concentrate and focus on your business.  It comes down to being able to ask for help.  If you don’t learn it early, your business won’t grow beyond a certain point.  One person cannot do what an entire team can do in terms of business growth.  You might be afraid to hire the wrong team or bring on the wrong people.  Get over the fear: you WILL hire the wrong people… at first. You’re going to learn and, very quickly, you’ll hire better and you won’t have those support team issues.  But, the fear need not be in asking for or receiving help.  If you’re going to fear anything, fear all the business you’ll lose and all the people you’ll miss out helping if you DON’T get help.

#3 Thing you aren’t doing in your business because of fear: Focusing on One Product for the Year and Hustling to Sell It

Many entrepreneurs start out wanting to do ten thousand things at once: one-on-one coaching, a membership site, online classes, group coaching, live workshops.  WAIT A MINUTE!  There are 24 hours in a day and 7 days in a week and Congress is not adding the 8th day any time soon.  If the golden rule of business is to put WHOLE mind into PRESENT action, how can you possibly do that if you’re working on 10 products/services at once?  You can’t.  But, so many entrepreneurs want to differentiate themselves in the market by offering something to everyone… which leads to offering nothing of value to anyone who’ll be willing to pay attention.  The fear of not being enough creeps into this situation without anyone even knowing it.  When you feel the need to overproduce, it’s a way of overcompensating for weaknesses you think you have.  It’s almost as if you’re saying to the world, “I know I’m not enough but if I give you this, this, and this, then maybe I will be!”  It’s also a clear indicator that you don’t trust your gifts and you don’t trust the process of life.

For many people, the fear is also about putting too much faith in one product.  “What if I spend my entire year on this one product and it doesn’t sell?  I’ll have lost an entire year!”  A- You won’t have lost an entire year.  If you’re doing it right, you’ll have learned some AMAZING lessons that you then apply to the next product/service launch, B- If you created the product/service right, you didn’t create the product first.  You created the overview of the product, marketed it to see if there was interest, sold it and THEN created the product.  That way, you don’t waste time and energy on a product no one wants, and C- You have to start somewhere.  Sam Walton filed bankruptcy numerous times before WalMart became WalMart.  Failure is necessary to success.  Embrace it and allow it to teach you what you need to know.

Bottom line:

Until you release the fear of putting single-minded focus on one product for the year, you’ll never get to the place where you can hustle and flow in your business.

So now that you know the 3 things you aren’t doing in your business because of fear, what do you do about it?

Here are 3 steps you can take to stop allowing the fear to keep you (and your business stuck):

Step #1: Spend 10-15 minutes a day talking about how your business serves the world.

Whether you do this on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn or in person with potential clients, get comfortable with talking about your business.  You don’t have to do a sales pitch.  Begin small by talking about how you created your business, why you started it, and what you offer to clients.  Give away something of value to potential email subscribers.  Get into the habit of giving away immense value for free and do it openly, completely, and time yourself at 10-15 minutes DAILY (that means 7 days a week).  It will get easier as you build the habit but the first thing you’ve got to do is build the habit.  Feel the fear and market yourself anyway!

Step #2: Delegate 3 tasks out of your hands.

Whether that’s laundry, cooking, or the cover for your eBook, talk to family, friends, or visit eLance.com and get some help.  By the end of today, get 3 tasks out of your hands and into someone else’s lap.  

Remember: the only way to do it is to do it!

Step #: Pick ONE product to promote, sell and work on in 2015 and do not focus on anything else until 1) you sell, create and deliver the product or 2) you figure out (after a MINIMUM of 3 months of marketing and sales) that it’s not a product that people really want.

Again, this is about persistence, consistency, and follow through.  Decide the ONE product/service you are most passionate about and that you think people most need and offer it to your tribe.  If you don’t have a tribe, spend 3 months building a tribe around this product.  Do teleseminars, webinars, and offer free reports/audios/programs to potential email subscribers.  Feel out the market for three months.  If you find there’s a need and people have purchased (advanced purchase), create the product and continue marketing it for the year.  If you find that there isn’t a need after three months, scrap the product and try something different.

The point is simple: Put yourself out there.  

You’ll never know what you’re capable of until you challenge yourself to face your fear and go after what you want anyway!

If fear is something that’s keeping you stuck, grab my FREE audio power coaching program From the Fear of Failure to the Joy of Success in 3 Simple Steps…

–>CLICK HERE TO GRAB YOUR FREE COPY<–

 

Are You a Woman in Your 30s, Single, and Serious About Having Kids Before You Turn 40? 5 Reasons Why You NEED to Start a Business NOW… (Read Time: 4 min.)

PregnantThe biological clock… I used to think it was a myth… in my 20s… And it is a myth, of sorts. But here’s the reality of female reproduction:

As women, we have a very small window (esp. after you figure college, climbing the corporate ladder, a few bumpy relationships, maybe a divorce or two, and then finding ourselves) in which to have babies.

Yes, Halle Berry had a baby at 46.  Yes, Geena Davis was over 40 when she had her first.  Those are the exceptions (and, hello, we don’t really know HOW they accomplished that- let’s not go there).

The reality is that while you can spend your entire life building a career, as a woman, you don’t have your ENTIRE life to have babies.

So what do you do when you’re in your 30s, single, and ULTRA serious about having kids BEFORE you turn 40 (at least baby #1):

Start a business!

Oh, yeah, I said it.

 

Here are 5 reasons why, as a woman wanting to have babies and planning to start a family later in life, entrepreneurship is the way to go:

Reason #1: After all the drama, trauma, and waiting you’re going through to get to Baby #1, the LAST thing you want to do is have that cute, adorable baby and then shuffle him or her off to daycare at Month 3.  For most women, putting babies in day care is a heart-wrenching process and if you don’t want to do it, starting a business is a surefire way to ensure you never have to.  Nanny? Yes.  Baby day care from 6 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday and miss out on all the key moments of those first years? No.

Reason #2: If you don’t want to do the “sacrifice” thing when it comes to mommyhood and your self-care, you’re going to need the kind of money that only entrepreneurship can bring (without the crazy work hours and schedule that higher income jobs require).  Pedicures, manicures, spa days, girls weekend out in Vegas… they cost money.  And so do diapers, formula, humidifiers, strollers that are cute, playpens that don’t feel like baby jails, jumperoos, and all of those Baby Gap outfits… oh yes, $$$$$$.  The more PROFIT you make, the more disposable income you have to take care of the baby AND you…

Reason #3: Providing for a child long term is an expensive state of affairs.  There’s some number rolling around in articles to the tune of $350,000- the cost to raise ONE child.  They forgot that children don’t always leave at 18.  In fact, they’re now coming home after college more than ever so add $80,000 to that price and you’ve got a 30 year estimate for the first 30 years of your FIRST child’s life.  Multiply that by 3, 4 or 5 if you plan to have more kids.  So, the reality is you get the cute, cuddly babies.  The other reality is they cost money for a lifetime.  Multi-millionaire entrepreneurs have the time, freedom AND money to provide security, nurturing, and love to the children they create.  A 9-5 job will never do that on the same level.

Reason #4: You might want to have the option to raise your children as dual stay-at-home parents who happen to be lifestyle entrepreneurs.  What if you want to raise your children with an ultra-involved spouse who, like you, can drop things at a moment’s notice to take the kids to Aspen or Maui or New York City or Japan?  That doesn’t happen when both you and your spouse are working “day” jobs and let me help you out: doctors, lawyers, pharmacists and engineers may make great money but they still have “day” jobs.  #justsayin

Reason #5: You’d like to enjoy the highs and lows of pregnancy with the option of actually ever having to dress up.  As an online entrepreneur, you can be pregnant, plump and happy making money in your PJs.  Does it take a lot of work to get there? Yes.  Is it totally doable?  Yes.  And, trust me, your swollen feet, big belly, and mid-day craving trips to the store for ice cream will thank you for your entrepreneurial decision.

These are just 5 of the MANY reasons that, as a woman who’s in her 30s, single and planning to have a family SOON, you want to start a business NOW.  It might take you a year (or 2, 3, or 4) to find the right partner, get situated, and get pregnant (contrary to all those after-school specials, in your 30s, “one time” isn’t the norm of what it takes to get pregnant).  Why not use that time of “waiting” wisely?  Build a business that supports your need for personal and financial freedom.  Build the nest for that baby you KNOW is on his or her way.  That way, when you actually have the baby, you’ll also have the time to enjoy this long awaited dream.

Yes, darling, it’s time you ramped up on the business so when the baby comes, you can bask in the miracle of the one thing money can’t buy: the ability to create and nurture new life.  

If you’ve been thinking about a business but you don’t know where to start, join me on a FREE call tomorrow night.  I’m bringing you AMAZING information on clarity and calling, two ingredients that are critical to business success.

–>CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP<– 

7 Ways to Use Less Time to Get More Done in Your Business (Read Time: 5 min.)

dear 3 amThere’s never enough time.  I know no other way to say it.

I get the Ford mantra, “If you think it’s hard, you’re right…” and the Wayne Dyer philosophy of “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change” but here’s the deal:

If you have major life commitments outside of your business (i.e. a family, going to school full time, a day job, a part time job, etc.), building your business means that you have less time to become MORE productive.

So how do you leverage what little time you have to get A TON of stuff done in your biz?

Here are 10 Time Hacks you can use to create entrepreneurial momentum and SERIOUS productivity:

Hack #1: Stop multi-tasking.  Multi-tasking is highly overrated.  #1- Studies now show that human beings don’t multi-task,  #2- Multi-tasking results in less done well.  Total waste of time.  Stop doing it.  Instead,  put WHOLE mind into PRESENT action.  In other words, whatever you’re working on, give it all you’ve got for the entire time you’re working on it.  Set a timer if you have to but be PRESENT.

Hack #2: Create a triggering ritual that starts your day off right.  What is one thing that you could do that would start your entire day off on the right foot?  For some, it’s exercise.  For others, it’s Starbucks.  Find that one ritual that wakes you up, gets you excited for the day and do it CONSISTENTLY.  Some-timing things doesn’t produce long term results.  It needs to be something that will become what Twyla Tharp, in a book she wrote called The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life,calls a “triggering ritual.”  It signals to your mind and body, “On your mark, get set, go!!!!!!!!!!!” and you’re off and running. Do it daily.

Hack #3: Sleep less.  Yes, I’m the big bad wolf here.  Yes, I know sleep is critical (books like Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder
and The Art of Extreme Self-Care: Transform Your Life One Month at a Time are champions of this and I agree with them).  However, when you are launching a business, when you are growing a business, and when you have many other priorities pulling for your time, guess what?  Sleep becomes a luxury.  I’m not saying sleep 2 hours a night.  Be smart about your sleep requirements.  Everyone has a sleep threshold (the minimum number of hours of sleep they can operate well on).  Whatever that threshhold is, apply it to a MINIMUM of 4 nights a week.  Try to get good sleep (7-8 hours) 2-3 nights a week.  Will your body’s sleep clock be off?  Yes.  Will your body basal thermometer readings look coo coo for cocoa puffs?  Yes.  Will this be short term if you do it right?  Absolutely!  Do what you HAVE to do now so you can do what you WANT to do later.

Hack #4: Hire help.  I’m bad at this one.  In fact, I’m trying to hire my first assistant right now.  The reality is: no woman is an island.  At some point, if you want to get to the next level, you have to DELEGATE.  For most of us starting out, the sentiment is “I can’t afford an assistant.”  What I’m quickly learning is that you can’t afford to NOT have one.  Go to Task Rabbit or post on a job board or get a referral from a friend but hire help.  And, yes, you will have bad hires the first few times you do it (all of my women entrepreneur friends who’ve been there and done that have told me MANY horror stories) but you’ve got to get up that learning curve.  Start hiring and decide to fail forward.  Eventually, you’ll get the process down and you’ll find the right people to be on your team.

Hack #5: Slash half of your To-Do list.  Ooooh… I know… Tough stuff.  Far too many of us love the feeling of a checked off looooooooong To-Do list but do we ask ourselves, “How important is each of these things to the overall success of my business?”  I don’t think so… Be super-vigilant about your To-Do list and keep it small (like 3 items a day).  What are the 3 MOST important moves you’ll need to make today?  Get those done and then figure out your next 3 steps…

Hack #6: Get a massage.  Weird, right?  Massage?  Business?  Massages relieve tension.  Relieved tension makes way for creativity.  Creativity fosters innovation and innovation produces results.  Use Groupon to find cheap massages or go to the local massage therapy school in your area and have massage students give you a one hour massage for cheap.  Either way, make this a once-a-week to once every two week REQUIREMENT.  Ease your mind, restore your life!

Hack #7: Keep family time CENTRAL and work time PERIPHERAL.  One of the most profound things I’ve ever read on this issue came from Jon Acuff’s book,Start: Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average and Do Work that Matters.  In the book, he says, “Be selfish at 5:00 am… When you’re a spouse, parent, or caregiver, your time doesn’t just belong to you.  It’s in large part communal property, shared by the entire house.  But that doesn’t mean you can’t be selfish with some of that time.  You just have to know when you can be, which is why I mention 5:00 am.”

None of these hacks are “secrets.”  They’re timeless strategies that work.  The key to making the most of them is CONSISTENCY.

Pick one of the above hacks and commit to implementing it for the next 30 days.

I’d love to know which one you pick.

Leave a comment letting me know which Hack you’ll be working on the for month of December.

Let the accountability begin!

Time flies

What You Need Versus What You Want… (Read Time: 2 min.)

settleAs a woman entrepreneur, what’s the difference between what you NEED and what you WANT?

Is there even a difference?

Half of getting what you want comes in knowing what you deserve.

The other half comes in being able to distinguish the timing, quality and extent to which you choose the need versus the want in any given situation.

Let me give you a few examples…

As a woman entrepreneur, do you NEED business cards?  Or do you WANT them?

Do you NEED to go to networking events or do you WANT to?

Do you NEED to spend six months paying someone thousands of dollars creating your “personal brand” or do you WANT to?

Keep in mind: there are no right or wrong answers but there are optimal choices for YOU…

Get to the core of what you NEED so you can define the extent of what you WANT.

Literally pull out a sheet of paper, draw a line down the middle and, on the left hand column write: “What I WANT in my business” and on the right hand column write, “What I NEED in my business.”

Creating a simple list like this will help you decide what to say ‘Yes’ to and what to say ‘No’ to.

Far too often, we say ‘Yes’ to things we think we need when the ‘No’ would’ve gotten us closer to what we WANT.

Think about that the next time you make a business or life decision… 

I don’t like to commit to my calendar… but here’s why I do (Read Time: 3 min.)

woman 39Over and over, I’ve heard it said, “If it’s not scheduled, it’s not real.”  

I’ve fought the idea of putting my life on a schedule.  I’ve said:

How can you schedule when a child’s going to get sick and they have to stay home from school?
How can you schedule an accident on the highway and intense traffic?

How can you schedule going grocery shopping, forgetting an item, and having to go back?

Aren’t most schedules for show anyway?

Yes, I’ve given every objection to planning my day and living my life by my Google calendar and my android digital personal assistant but here’s what I’ve found:

Until you schedule it, it’s not a priority.

Wanting to work out everyday is a nice wish but until you have a set time that it occurs in your week (hence, why people love going to classes where times are scheduled and locked in), it won’t happen.

I’m a commitment phobe when it comes to my calendar.  It takes me 20 minutes too long to plan out my day because I look at my list of to-dos and look at my calendar and my constant gripe is:

There’s not enough time in my day to do EVERYTHING I want to do!

After about five minutes of pity partying, my Higher Self kicks in and lovingly reminds me:

At the end of the day, there will NEVER be enough time…

It’s not about having enough time.  It’s about doing ALL  you can with ALL you have, accepting that life is a work in progress, and being okay with the fact that it’ll never ALL be done.

We’ll never ALL be done.

“Waiting” to arrive is a total and complete waste of energy. 

The journey is THE thing.  The destination changes A LOT.

If you want to get more accomplished in your day, week, month and year, here are three tips that help me:

  1. Schedule your most important tasks DAILY.  Okay, take one day off during the weekend so you don’t feel like a total auto-bot (Side note: Transformers!  More than meets the eye:).
  2. Change your schedule as soon as “life happens.”  Yup, when a child gets sick or I have to run an errand I wasn’t expecting to run, I go back to my Google calendar and change my time frames.  It keeps me honest and it keeps my calendar consistent with my life.
  3. Spend 5 minutes each night evaluating how you spent your time.  Before I sit down with my husband and watch another episode of Life Unexpected on Net Flix, I sit down and ask myself a few questions: What worked about today?  What didn’t work about today?  What do I need to change in how approach tomorrow?   This idea came to me from Peter Bregman’s book, 18 Minutes.

Well, there you have it.  I’m not in love with the idea of scheduling my life but it works.

Sometimes, you do what you HAVE to do now so you can do what you WANT to do later.

It’s called, “Never give up what you want most for what you want now.” 

#usetodaywisely 

Women Breadwinners & Career Change: Climb, Transition or Quit? (Read Time: 5 min.)

 woman 2Woman breadwinner… Who gave you that role?  Who keeps you in that role?  What could easily erase that role?

One answer: Your job.  

Maybe it’s your career.  More than likely, it is your profession.  Is it your calling?  Your vision?  Your grandest purpose for your life?  Probably not… And, yet, you do it.  You do it because it pays the bills.  You do it because it feeds, clothes, and provides a roof for your family.  You do it because it’s what you know how to do well and it’s what keeps you in the current lifestyle you’re accustomed to.

But what happens when the job you do is killing the dreams you have?

How do you make a decision about changing, altering, or erasing a part of your identity that is the requirement for your family’s survival?

The answer most women breadwinners stuck in a career rut choose is this: You don’t.  You stay in the job.  You do what it takes to pay the bills.  You put your big girl panties on and keep it moving.

That might last until your youngest child graduates from high school but, at some point, when you’ve done status quo until it annihilates your soul, what you discover is that you hit a breaking point where you can no longer do what you do, be who you are, and still truly exist.

Your career unhappiness affects EVERYONE around you.  

It hampers every relationship.  It slowly chips away at every dream.  At some point, if your joy is going to be a mainstay in your life, you’re going to have to make a few major decisions about your career (even when you love your career) and, usually, those decisions revolve around one of three options:

Climb? Transition? Quit?

Livelihood, salary, and compensation are critical factors in the life of a woman breadwinner.  If you’re a software engineer earning $250,000 a year and you absolutely hate it, going into work tomorrow and quitting may not be an option.  On the flip side, if you’re a teacher who adores her fifth grade class but your business analyst husband lost his job six months ago and your teacher salary can no longer carry you, your husband and three children, something about your income earning potential has got to shift.  No matter what the situation, women breadwinners are far better off making PROACTIVE career decisions than reactive ones.

If you’re at a crossroads in your career, here are three key questions to ask yourself before you choose either of the three alternatives:

ALTERNATIVE 1: Climb (move up within the company)

1) What career paths are available to me at the company I work for currently?

2) What steps would I have to take in order to move up the corporate ladder?  Would the time and energy investment I’d have to make into these steps be worth the outcome?

3) How can I reality-test my fit for a different position?  In other words, can you shadow a person who currently has the role you’d like to take on?  Can you get a mentor who’s already climbed the corporate ladder and meet with him/her thirty minutes every other week?  Is there an additional role within the company you can take on to “try out” the position you’d be moving towards?

4) How financially stable is my firm?  If I were to move up in the company and get laid off at a later date, would the experiences I gained in this new role make me more viable to companies outside of my current organization?

ALTERNATIVE 2: Transition (change careers/fields)

1) How much exposure have I had to the field/profession I’m looking to go into?  How can I reality test my fit for this position?  If you’re  moving from being a police officer to a doctor, have you interned or volunteered at a hospital?  What experiences can you take on before making a massive commitment to completely change gears in your career?

2) What will be required to fully make this career shift?  Will you need to get an additional degree or certification?  If so, how much will that cost?  How much will you have to pay?  How much time will you have to put in to get those things done?

3) What will it take to get you to the same or a higher salary in this new field?  If you’re a neurosurgeon deciding to become a writer, what’s your plan for making up for the salary lost in the process?  How will you downsize your lifestyle or add additional streams of income to compensate for any lost wages as you make the shift?

4) How willing are you to start over?  When you jump from one career to a completely different one, it often requires starting from scratch which includes working in an entry level position for entry level pay.  Given your family dynamics and your monthly budget, is this something you can afford to do?

ALTERNATIVE 3: Quit (quit a job you hate, one that is sucking the life out of you)

1) What has your current job cost you?  Be specific about the tangible costs of staying in your current position.  Have you gotten carpel tunnel syndrome?  Adrenal fatigue? Depression? Anxiety? Has your eye sight gotten worse?  Did you gain 80 pounds?  Be clear on the what this job is costing you.

2) How much longer do you feel you can stay at your current position?  At all costs, you don’t want to get so fed up that you wake up one morning and quit.  Having an exit strategy is always the best way to go.

3) What is your ideal exit date?  What kind of exit strategies can you start using to make sure you’re out of the company by this day and time?

4) If you had to stay at this company, what could you do to improve your experience of it?

5) If you had a choice between staying on your current job or working for a company that paid much less but had a better working environment, what would you do?

At the end of the day, the best decision you can make about your career will come from four steps (what Dan and Chip Heath call the WRAP Process in a book they wrote called “Decisive”):

1) Widening your options

2) Reality testing your assumptions

3) Attaining distance (i.e. giving yourself time to reflect and consider)

4) Preparing to be wrong (knowing that no decision is permanent and that you can choose a different path at any point you choose)

Be sure that you complete each of the four above-mentioned steps and then (no analysis paralysis) DECIDE AND DO… It won’t be easy but it will be worth it.