By Carrie Ferrero
Striving to be a strong woman leader comes with its own set of challenges, let alone trying to achieve other aspirations you have. Most women find it hard just to find a minute for themselves. Although we all live such different lives, I believe we find ourselves facing similar challenges. When I look deep inside myself, I ask, am I selfish for wanting more, for wanting to continue to grow in my career? As a mom of six (yes six), does what I want even really matter or am I taking away from my children?
From early on I knew I wanted big things. I was career driven and did not see myself with a large family. I loved my independence, which was the exact opposite of how I grew up. Waking up every day knowing this seemed easy as my goal was to find a way to grow and set myself apart from others. As an athlete, I always had the mentality that someone was always watching me even when I thought I was alone. That meant I had to strive to be the best version of me at all times. I knew giving my best work should be a daily goal and so it was.
They say the older you get, the wiser you are. I finally understand what this means for me. Older means more tired and sore, so buying Epsom salt and wine in bulk is a must! LOL! OK, that’s just part of it. Truthfully, the older you get, the easier it is to become drained emotionally, physically and mentally. This means we have to start working smarter and looking for more efficient ways to achieve our goals. We also let go of things that no longer seem so important. It becomes clear there’s no room for trivial things in your life if you plan on growing each day. I call this “de-stressing,” and think it’s one of the most important things that women should do.
Fast forward, I have a career I love, with a new husband and six kids in our new blended family. I’m also involved in a non-profit I believe in, coaching my kids in sports and still believe in eating meals at the dinner table as a family. I can’t do it all, so what do I let go of and how do I continue to grow each day?
There are three things I do that may work for you, too:
- Spring cleaning. Yes, it’s time to reprioritize. I found doing this in the fall as well as the spring is critical to my growth. Think of it like as you would cleaning a garage full of storage. If you have not used it in six months, do you need it? Probably not, so out with it! You might laugh, but I actually practice this with everything in my life – the mental, physical and emotional things. Don’t be afraid to let go!
- Unfortunately, I did not graduate college with a degree nor was school the way for me. I found early in my 20s that I was a hands-on learner and could learn at lightning speeds by breaking it first and putting it back together. I had to look for ways to learn every day in my life. I kept a journal and made a note of what I learned and how I expected it to impact my life. I got out of my comfort zone and tried to teach and empower others with what I had learned. That was one of the most beneficial things I did in my life. By stepping up and empowering others, it allowed me to see from their perspective and break it down in different ways, which allowed people around me to excel faster.
- Love what you do. If you love what you do, you’ll be passionate about it, dedicated to it and grow it as your own. Most importantly, you will empower others to love it the way you do! The sad reality is you’ll face periods in your life where you do not love something the way you once did. It’s critical to recognize this early and address it. Try to find out the why and fix it. If you don’t take these steps, you will regret it later. Once addressed, you may find that the issue has more to do with you than the work.
Recently, I found that the thing I had worked so hard for and loved so much did not love or respect me back. I didn’t wake up feeling good about it anymore. I know you all have been through this in your life. It took difficult conversations, negotiations and a support team to figure out it was time for me to make a change. It’s amazing how peaceful you become once you finally have the answer. I was free, and I was excited to start my new journey in life. After all, life is full of seasons, some good and some bad. How you handle them sets the tone for everything else.
I challenge all of you to embrace your strengths and find the authentic leader inside yourself. Find what makes you happy. Empower others with it through your passion and embrace changes however they come! Don’t be afraid to find a support team. It will lift you higher than you could imagine. When you believe in yourself, the things you can accomplish are astonishing!