Personal Development

  • Ladies, Stop Playing Small!

    As women, it’s easy to read a magazine and feel empowered when Oprah tells us, “This is your moment. Own it.” On the next page Beyoncé purrs, “the most alluring thing a woman can have is confidence.”

    The women of Hollywood are always cheering us on. Taylor Swift says, “Happiness and confidence are two of the prettiest things you can wear.”

    But how do you feel sitting outside your manager’s office before you ask for a raise? Alone in the doctor’s office, you learn you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes.

    What then? Can we “shake it off” and stroll into the world like boss babes? Empowering words wither when life strikes a blow. How can we empower ourselves in the real world?

    Empowerment Defined

    According to Merriam-Webster, empowerment is “the act or action of empowering someone or somethingthe granting of the power, right, or authority to perform various acts or duties.” The United Nations says women’s empowerment should give “women access to full participation in all sectors and at all levels of economic activity… (to build) strong economies.”

    For many women, empowerment is about feeling comfortable and confident enough to state their desire without fear of reprisal. It’s less a state of mind and more a growth process.

    How Do I Become Empowered?

    Declaring yourself empowered works about as well as Michael Scott “declaring bankruptcy” in The Office. Empowerment is elusive until you create an environment where your confidence can flourish.

    Step One: Self-reflection

    Whether you’re navigating office politics or a health issue, empowerment starts by facing your fears. Confidence is smothered in the presence of its enemy, fear. So ask yourself what scares you about asking for a raise, then shed light on that fear.

    Write it down, share it with a friend, play the “worst case scenario” game. Many times, once fear is brought into the light, it loses its ability to steal your power.

    Step Two: Take Action

    Once fear is taken down a notch, it’s time to take action. Remove the obstacles in your path, even if one of the obstacles is yourself.

    • Create habits that breed success
      Need to lose weight? Make early morning workouts easier by laying out your clothes and preparing your water bottle the night before. Find an accountability partner who is not afraid to call you out when you slack off. If you know you have a proclivity for candy bars from the office vending machine, then think ahead and stock healthy trail mix and fruit at your desk each week.
    • Address your deficiencies
      Are you tongue-tied in high-pressure office situations or do you frequently find yourself on the losing end of propositions in life and business? Consider taking a course on negotiation. Coursera.org offers the free course, “Introduction to Negotiation: A Strategic Playbook for Becoming a Principled and Persuasive Negotiator” to help build your skills in forming arguments and untangling conflict.
    • Polish your public speaking skills
      Whether you’re an entry-level peon or a CEO, public speaking skills are integral to confidently engaging with an audience—whether it’s two people or 2,000. Toastmasters International is a non-profit organization that connects community members interested in practicing public speaking skills. Visit the website to find a group near you.

    Step Three: Embrace the Process

    Just as a ship takes time to change course, navigating your life toward empowerment will not happen overnight. Take baby steps and choose one area where you’d like to take control and chart new territory. Small victories can propel progress in other areas, and soon you’ll be well on your way to an empowered life.

  • Give Yourself Permission To Be You

    How often do you allow yourself to be 100% completely your true and authentic self? Many people like to believe that they’re always comfortable being themselves and presenting their real selves to the rest of the world, but this isn’t always the case.

    If you want to seriously embrace your life and everything the world has to offer you, learning how to give yourself permission to be you and be real is an essential skill.

    Why do some people not give themselves permission to be real or be themselves?

    There are tons of reasons why someone may not feel comfortable giving themselves permission to be real or be themselves around others. For example:

    1. They may feel insecure about some aspect of themselves.

    Whether it’s a hangup they experience about their body, their personality, their hobbies, or any other facet of themselves, if a person has a specific insecurity, it can hinder them from being real or acting like themselves – especially around others.

    1. They may be uncertain of who their “real self” even is.

    Some people have trouble giving themselves permission to be real and be themselves because they don’t really know themselves. While it seems strange that a person may not understand who they are, it happens often!

    People may believe they like certain things or hold certain beliefs, but when they explore past the surface of those thoughts, they may realize they only like or believe those things because of the other people in their lives influencing them. Once separated from those outside influences, they may struggle to understand who they really are.

    1. They may be afraid of how others will feel or react when presented with their real self.

    Showing your real self to others can be frightening because you don’t always know how the other people might react. Rather than risking embarrassment or alienation from a group of people because of who you truly are, you may decide to not be yourself or be real about who you are.

    If you struggle to give yourself permission to be real and be yourself, what can you do to make it feel easier?

    It takes practice, patience, and time to embrace who you really are so you can be yourself and be real with others. To make the process feel a little easier, consider the following strategies:

    1. If you have a people pleasing habit, drop it.

    People pleasers are folks who will do anything and everything they can to stay in the good graces of others. Often, when you’re working so hard to please others and make them happy, you’re denying yourself the ability to be honest, open, and comfortable because you’re fighting against who you really are to be more pleasing to someone else.

    Rather than going to extremes to make someone happy, tone down your immediate urge to go over the top and stick to what really feels right for you to do.

    1. Identify your personal strengths and embrace them.

    Everyone has a set of personal strengths. These are qualities and talents you possess that make you stand out among others. To make it easier to be you and be real, identify your strengths and allow yourself to play to them.

    When you have chances to use your talents or skills, do it. If certain qualities about yourself shine in some situations, use them to your advantage. Focusing on your personal strengths is a great way to acclimate being real and being yourself around others.

    1. Remember that most people aren’t analyzing you as harshly as you believe they are.

    Many people believe they are constantly being watched, judged, or analyzed by others. This is definitely not the case! Most people are consumed with their own thoughts and business. They may notice you, but it is highly unlikely that other people are examining you as closely as you might believe they are. Use this as a reminder to help yourself relax, especially in social situations where there are more people around and use that knowledge to let your true self shine through.

    1. Consider who you’re spending most of your time with: Are they good for you?

    Take a moment to consider who you’re spending most of your time around. Are these people actually a good influence on your life?

    If you’re trying to spend more time with people who make you feel uncomfortable, as if you can’t really be yourself and be real with them, you may need to reconsider your friend group.

    Sometimes the problem lies with the people you’re trying to spend your time with rather than yourself. If the people you want to socialize with are making you feel like you can’t fully be yourself around them, reconsider your relationship with these people and upgrade your circle of influence.

  • Getting Comfortable with Change

    Change can fill us with uncertainty, anxiety, stress, and fear. We are naturally hardwired to stick to what we know and have an innate desire to be in control of our lives. So, it is no wonder change feels overwhelming and why we may resist it.

    Managing change and learning to embrace it are the most important actions you can take on your path to success. Change allows you to advance, grow and move forward in life. Being comfortable with and accepting change will pay off. Below are a few ways to welcome change and embrace it as part of your daily life.

    A Flexible Mindset

    One way to embrace change is to focus on your mindset and perspective. When you tell yourself that you want to be more open-minded and flexible, you will naturally be more willing to take on whatever arises in life, rather than feeling the need to resist it. This will help you in many aspects of your life and will allow you to be more accepting of others. If you allow yourself to go with the flow, you will be much more mentally and emotionally stable.

    When you better understand your mind, you will be better at dealing with change. This may come from journaling your thoughts to observe them or meditating to let go of your attachment to them and learn to stay in control of negative thoughts and emotions.

    Staying Present

    One of the reasons we are naturally anxious and stressed about change is because of the uncertainty around it. We naturally tend to look for patterns to predict possible outcomes. When we are unable to, it makes us feel worried about what could happen. Instead of stressing about future, which for the most part is out of our control, it is important to focus on the present.

    This way, you can take things as they occur and overcome obstacles along the way. This approach will minimize worrying about what could happen in the future. Staying present will lower your stress levels and feelings of fear while allowing you to be focused.

    Choose to Learn

    When you choose to accept change and look at it as a learning experience, you will be rewarded and find that there are tons of benefits to change. The wisdom and knowledge that you are able to gain from new experiences brought about by change are irreplaceable and necessary for success. The things you can learn about yourself and the world around you will leave you with more confidence in yourself for future endeavors.

    Let Go of Attachments

    When you are in the same career or live in the same place for years, it is inevitable that you will become attached to many aspects of your life. When some sort of change arises that forces you to stray from the norm, you will like you have to let go of something deep in your heart.

    However, it is important to understand that the things that make you comfortable in life will still appear in other forms and stepping out of your comfort zone will be both rewarding and beneficial. This will take time but letting go of attachment and looking to new opportunities with excitement is a great way to feel more comfortable with change.

  • What’s Keeping You Stuck?

    I remember all too well the time in my life where I believed that the role I was in was the best that I could do. There was no point in hoping or wishing to do something different and to do so would be ungrateful for what I already had. It was that internal guilt mixed with fear that kept me settling for less than what I deserved for years.

    I stayed stuck in a role that didn’t align with my values, talents or strengths and I went home drained, frustrated and stressed everyday. My children suffered because they didn’t have the mom they deserved. My finances suffered for it because I wasn’t earning at the level of my true potential and my future employer suffered because they didn’t have me in the role that I was best suited for where I could be a superior performer, getting the results they desperately needed.

    My wake up call led me on a journey of changing all of that. I started with working mon my thinking and beliefs. Next I got clear on what I wanted, my talents and my strengths. Then, I developed new skills and leveraged existing skills to pursue the new direction I had chosen. As a result, I transformed my career and have become a certified trainer, career coach and talent development practitioner.

    I encourage you to take a step back and evaluate where you are if you are unhappy in your career. If you feel stuck and dissatisfied, one of these reasons may be the culprit:

    • Career misalignment– Perhaps you are doing work that isn’t aligned with your values, talents and strengths.
    • Fear and self-doubt– Often times, we are unsure where the fear and doubt comes from. It usually is rooted in our subconscious and was planted in childhood.
    • Lack of marketable skills- There are times we can’t make the moves we want in our career because we don’t have the skills to take us there. Getting clear on what skills it will take to get you where you want to be is essential to success personally and professionally.

    So, what part of this post resonated with you? Are you struggling with misalignment, fear, doubt or a lack of marketable skills? I’d love to see your thoughts in the comments!

  • 5 Beliefs That Keep You from Reaching Your Goals

    Everyone has dreams, but not everyone makes their dreams into goals. You may have a few of these too. What are the reasons you tell yourself late at night to put the shutdown on making them a reality? These reasons are beliefs that you have, but that doesn’t mean they are valid reasons.

    1. Not Enough Time

    Everyone is busy these days. When someone asks how you are doing, you probably respond with “Busy.” But that might not be the truth. Everyone has the same twenty-four hours in the day. For a week or maybe two, keep a time ladder of how you spent your time. This includes sleeping, preparing and eating meals, social media, getting ready for work, cleaning your house. Take a good look at how your time is spent, and you might realize you have more time than you realize.

    • I Don’t Have ‘X’ Talent

    It doesn’t matter if you want to write a book or paint a picture, you have as much talent as you are willing to work for. You may not have been born with the natural ability to paint, it doesn’t mean you can’t learn and practice.

    • After ‘X’ I Will Do It

    “Once I get through this (insert tough project at work), I will start training for that marathon.” “After I lose twenty pounds, I will take a salsa dancing class.” Why are you waiting? Maybe that marathon training will help you work through the stress of that project at work. Perhaps salsa dancing lessons will allow you realize that no matter your weight, your body is worthy of fun and sexy movement. If you have a goal, go for it now.

    • I’m Not Good Enough

    What ruler are you using to measure your “good enough”? You are always good enough to go after your own dreams and goals. If this is an internal dialogue, then you need to work on liking and loving yourself first. If this belief is coming from external sources, then consider those sources and if they are holding you back.

    • ‘X’ Person Has it Easier

    The grass is greener where you water it. Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. There are many sayings that sum up that you really don’t know what someone else is going through. So do not assume that someone has it easier, and therefore can achieve their goals while you cannot. That person may think you have it easier or better.

    Self-limiting beliefs can be a slippery slope. They can also keep you from even trying to reach your goals. Take time to examine your reasoning and come up with better beliefs to counter the negative ones.