Women have faced a long history of being held back in the workplace. Today, however, we are faced with the opportunity to be thought leaders and innovators across all fields. This is not to suggest the barriers are gone; only that those before us have strengthened us to a degree where we can take those barriers on. Here are a few tips for women with big dreams and the will to get them done:
Recognize (and Believe) Your Strengths
From an early age, women are taught to downplay their strengths. We think of girls who take the lead as “bossy,” and girls who are smart as “show offs.” These biases carry over into adulthood, making it really, really hard to recognize our own strengths. Even when we do see them, we often avoid claiming them out of fear we’ll be seen as boastful or full of ourselves.
Moreover, imposter syndrome can make it even harder to see our own skills. It’s a strange phenomenon - the better and more informed we are about something, the more we’re able to see the gaps in our own knowledge. This, coupled with societal pressures, leads many women to thinking they’re faking their abilities, or they’ve just stumbled into their positions. Luck didn’t get you where you are - you did. Own it.
Be Your Own Boss
If you’re interested in running your own company, you can take total control of your career path. Starting your own business obviously comes with risks, but it can be an incredibly rewarding way to make a living. If you’re thinking of giving this a go, start small. Practice working for yourself through freelance and contract work to get a sense for whether or not it feels right. If you don’t have a college degree, you can find job opportunities that can help propel you to entrepreneurial success by searching for roles at NoDegree.
If after a few months being your own boss feels like a good fit, you can expand to hiring a few other people and creating a company structure. In order to have your legal ducks in a row, you can use a business formation service to set up an LLC. This will simplify taxes and create formal barriers between your professional and private assets. LLC laws vary by state, so make sure you research your local rules before you get started.
Use Your Network
As The Muse explains, a strong professional network is one of the best career tools at your disposal. As your career goes along, you’ll develop relationships with people you can turn to for help, direction, or insight. Make the most of these connections. For example, when you stumble onto a difficult problem at work, you could consider reaching out to an old coworker for advice on how to solve it (without disclosing privileged information along the way of course).
Staying actively involved in your professional network pays huge dividends. There might be an opportunity in your network that’s perfect for you, but your connection has to think of you for it to matter. If you’re in touch with them, you’re a lot more likely to come to mind.
Protect Your Mental Health
Finally, make sure you’re protecting your mental health along the way. Fighting for a place at the table can be exhausting. Putting in that work, especially without proper recognition, can wreak havoc on your self-esteem and emotional wellbeing. It’s extremely important for women in the workplace to stay aware of their mental wellbeing and find ways to put it first.
In this spirit, you should build mental-health forward habits into your daily life. For example, you could start your morning with a mindfulness meditation. This gives you some time to create quiet in your mind and learn how to focus on the present moment. Regular mindfulness practice has a proven impact on overall wellbeing, and Mindful.com explains that it can make you better at work, too. You’ll feel more refreshed, more creative, and better able to tackle whatever the day brings you.
If you’re feeling truly overwhelmed, however, you may need to seek professional help. There’s nothing wrong with needing to see a therapist, and it can have a huge positive impact on your life. You don’t have to feel like the whole world rests on your shoulders - don’t be afraid to share the load.
We hope these tips help you to find the career you’ve been dreaming of. There is a world of opportunity out there waiting for you. Create the future you deserve.
Image by Noriko Cooper via Canva