Repost: 7 Actions for Becoming More Like Yourself in 2012
The way I see it, there are two reasons we women travel through life losing sight of ourselves. Our diffuse awareness and our other-focused prioritizing. We aren’t likely to change, but when we get conscious and intentional, we make huge shifts in the balance of our priorities.
Generalizing wildly, we women have one beautiful pair of traits that opens the door for these huge shifts: we dream and we implement. We see the big picture and then we go about pinching the devil out of the details.
Before I give you the 7 Actions that will aid you in collaborating and delegating those details, I want to tell you a little story about Jane Doe the CEO (you, that is).
You were born with an inny.
Your parents swaddled and adored you and gave you nicknames like princess and honey love pot and sweetness.
They gave you Barbie dolls and you liked them. Mostly. Your mom told you that the world was your playground and that you could be and do anything you imagined. You built sand castles and mud pies with daisy frosting, and you punched Joey for cutting in front of you in the lunch line on pizza day.
You got straight As in math even thought you couldn’t imagine how it was relevant to, well, anything.
And then you were eleven.
E-leven. The boys were stronger, but you could still hold your own on the flag football team because you were a foot taller and ran like a cheetah. Boys were noisy and loud and gross, demanding the teacher’s attention and wiping their noses on the inside of their elbows, and life was way better when you circled up with the girls in solidarity and sniped out stiletto barbs that could cleave a life in two.
And then you were 15 and nothing made sense.
A yearning something yanked you into imperfect friendships and furtive dalliances. You excelled and failed in equal measure, wished people expected more of you and loathed yourself when they asked for more than you could give.
At 17 the yearning something transformed into direction, flanked equally by doubt and desire. You found your activism and your g-spot almost simultaneously, and for a moment, one excruciating moment, you considered raising chickens, throwing pottery, writing like Jane Austen and birthing babies like you might flip pancakes.
Somewhere in your late 20s, after the B.A. and the Master’s and the year in Costa Rica counting turtles and the job coup of a lifetime, you ran into yourself at an intersection. You had your feet on the ladder, a ring of promise on your finger and endless eggs cueing up to nest in your belly. The light turned green and you gunned it.
You knew you could do it all.
You’d been doing it all since you learned to walk. Promotion lead to partnership, and partnership lead to authority and in between the meetings and the diapers and the arguments and the invitations and the accolades, you realized your weekends with loved ones were spent shopping for cake mixes and power tools and suddenly you’re 43 and just like 15, not one thing makes sense, and your Jane Austen self sits on the curb where you left her, waving at you.
“Who am I?” You Ask
You’re Jane Doe, the CEO of everything, and nothing’s wrong. You’re in the right place at the right time for the right reason. And babe, it’s time to get your life back.
It’s no wonder we women find ourselves here. Even if we were blessed with parents and mentors who helped us discover and navigate the sweet waters of purpose-filled living, we have been aided and abetted by our culture. A culture that doesn’t much understand pause and reflection and stepping away from the madding crowd. A culture that still struggles to come to grips with equality and feminine leadership; a culture that is still fearful of the power of women. And sometimes we’re the last to know.
Navigating the Pivot Points
No matter if you’re household executives or house keepers, freelancers or entrepreneurs, cubicle expats or c-suite brainiacs, or a micro business owner raising goats and selling vegetables in the market in Kenya, we all reach at least one pivot point in our lives in which we question who we are and what our lives are missing.
How well we navigate this passage depends on our willingness to give ourselves what we need. To pause and reinvent. To open our mouths and ask for what we want. To recognize that everything is a negotiation and we’ve been doing it since we were born.
And We’re Good at It
But because we’ve been socialized to be nice and accommodating and selfless and giving; and because we’ve been trained to modulate our voices (read suppress) lest we be found bitchy, strident, bossy or mannish; because men approach negotiation factually and women approach it emotionally, we do our best to avoid it all together. We resist learning and training in the subject of negotiation because we compare ourselves to the way men do things and tell ourselves we can’t compete.
Getting the Keys to the Castle
What this all means is that we have to start where we are and become more like ourselves, not less. We have to know what we value, and in turn we must learn to bend toward our intrinsic values in all relationships—work, family, community, neighbors, etc. As we begin to consciously live from our value(s) we naturally begin to make choices that express our value in the world, and in the work we do everyday. We’ve built the scaffolding for asking for what we want, and we’re beginning to notice negotiation opportunities everywhere.
It’s here, at this point, we find the keys to the castle and begin the process of transformation. It’s here that we finally see that negotiation is just a conversation. A conversation leading to agreement. A conversation leading to a different world. And it all started by talking to and negotiating with yourself.
So Jane Doe, as you unravel the who am I now question, it might be a good idea to let yourself off the hook for landing here, right now, with a big question mark on your forehead. Give yourself a break for having a philosophical moment, a pragmatic pause. Forgive yourself for dithering in quicksand. You didn’t get here because of some fundamental flaw in your nature. You got here because you’re awake, and listening, and ready to shift the balance in your life. Your whole life.
Seven Actions for Becoming More Like Yourself in 2012
- Create 5 Daily Practices. One for self nourishment; one business or career-enhancing strategy; one thing you want to learn, one behavior you want to replace with another, better one; and one core value you'll be mindful of daily to underpin your agreements in 2012.
- Say no to most everything that doesn’t connect to #1.
- Ask for help. As soon as you hit a roadblock, or ask yourself the question that begins with, “How do I…” ask for help. Get direction. Hire a coach.
- Learn the grammar of negotiation so you can understand and strategically repeat what you’re already good at: having conversations that lead to agreement. You know where to go for that.
- Start a mastermind group for the purpose of putting #1 in action. Here's a great guide to getting started.
- Implement daily productivity habits to keep your practices front and center. You need to keep your busyness temperature low, and your delegating and collaborating temperature high. If you need a resource for that, my absolute favorite productivity Diva is Sara Caputo of Radiant Organizing and she has a fabulous ebook worth every penny.
- Choose the life you have. The only way to keep your agreements with yourself and make major shifts is to choose your imperfections and flaws—and choose to regard them as highly as you do your values and strengths. You are a complete package, as is, right now.
Be more like yourself in 2012, and you'll like yourself more.
You can get ahead of the curve and put all seven actions in action by joining The Daily Thrive learning community—a new project of She Negotiates for high achieving busy women who want results. Daily Blasts of learning with coaching and feedback from experts. Launches January 30, so get on the mailing list to get the details and special perks.