It's that time of year again, when we all vow to stop working like maniacs and start exercising more and be kinder to ourselves. And for a few weeks we might actually succeed. But then we all know what happens: We loosen the reins a bit and we start to revisit our not-so-good habits. Soon, our resolve has gone out the window. And then we beat up on ourselves anew.
This always worries me; I know so many women who are so hard on themselves, who won't cut themselves a break. They criticize everything -- their appearance, their relationships, their professional accomplishments. It astounds me how brutal we can be on ourselves. Think about it: If your best friend talked to you the same way you talk to yourself, you wouldn't stand for it. So why is it OK for you to beat up on yourself?
Trust me, I know it's not always easy to be your best ally. This is something I talk about in my book, Stepping Out of Line. When I was first creating Count Me In (itself a struggle), one of the things I noticed was that despite the strides women entrepreneurs were making, they were in need of confidence, capital, and community. And -- surprise, surprise! -- these are the things that hold back women from achieving not only in our businesses, but in our every day lives. These three C's, as I like to call them, can slow down your momentum. They can make you stop believing in yourself and your ideas. Or worse, they can cause you to never get started.
How do you gain confidence? Books -- industries! -- have been built on that very question. But here are some of my suggestions:
1. Ban the S Word. I'm talking about "Should," a terrible little word that creeps into our thoughts and statements about money, power, marriage, kids, body size, career, and lifestyle. The "shoulds" have become an epidemic in women's lives and we've got to stop it! Having confidence in yourself means not blindly accepting what other people tell you should make you happy.
2. Stop trying and start doing! Instead of "trying" to do it all, why not acknowledge that you are DOING it all? Be more affirmative! You are managing your life, your family, your business, and your world. "Trying" is a cop out.
3. Be Grateful for Challenges and Criticisms. You can listen to resistance or criticism and let it hold you back, or you can listen to what people say in their criticism, understand why they might be saying it, and then decided whether the critique makes your idea, product, decision -- You -- stronger. If so, incorporate it. If not -- next!
4. Determine your value. Yes, I'm talking money here. Part of determining your value -- whether you literally assign a number to your worth or not -- is about busting the illusion that someone else will take care of you. Financial self-sufficiency -- making, saving and investing your own money -- says that as women, we know our true value and have real power in the world.
5. Ask for help. Being independent does not mean doing everything yourself! Community is an essential element of a good life. It involves sharing common purpose and goals and seeing each member as an important contributor. A strong community supports you, challenges you, and keeps you accountable. When you have questions or need support, you can ask for it. Again: You can be an independent person, capable of taking care of yourself and your family, but you will only get so far if you try to do it all by yourself.
So in 2012, here is my wish for you: That you will abolish all of the negative comments, beliefs, conversations, and thoughts you have. That if you think you "can't" do something, you will instead do your best to master it, no matter how painful it may be. I truly believe that developing a positive mindset -- and affirming how fabulous you are -- is the best way to achieve success.
Happy New Year!