Perfection is the enemy, according to Sheryl Sandberg, best-selling author and longtime COO of Facebook. Do you agree?
There’s no doubt that striking the perfect balance between work, personal and social obligations can be overwhelming; and let’s be honest, it often feels unattainable. Sandberg believes that we’re setting ourselves up for failure when we tell ourselves that we can do it all and do it all perfectly. Yet, we still try, don’t we?
As we settle into the new year, let’s give ourselves some grace this year and agree that there can be new ways of accomplishing all that we set out to do, even if it doesn’t conform to the norm. As women in business today, we have the special opportunity to create our own versions of success, and the beautiful thing is that no two women will have the same definition. Because it’s time to stop living up to others’ expectations and find peace in our own individual journeys, here are 5 ways to find your version of success in 2020.
Design a Work Schedule that Works for You
In the past, the prototypical dentist or executive had a standardized 9-5 schedule for 4-5 days a week. As entrepreneurial women, we don’t have to fit into that traditional mold if we don’t want to. As your own boss, you have the unique ability to craft your own work schedule – and then change it as necessary. There’s no reason to keep doing things the same way if they aren’t working for you personally.
Ask yourself – what does your workweek look like? And what do you WANT it to look like? Whether you work six hours six days a week or you choose to work fewer days with longer hours, you have the power to design a better schedule for yourself. And then use your untraditional schedule to attract more patients and customers. Perhaps you offer evening hours once a week or open for half a day on the weekends. Embrace your schedule’s unique advantages — and that you are bringing something different and new to the table.
Find Your People
Having a supportive family and friendships are some of the best gifts in life. Whether or not you have those traditional support systems, cultivate a new network for this particular moment in your life. Find people who push you outside of your comfort zone and disrupt your normal routine — in a positive way. Whether through a formal group that meets regularly and offers entrepreneurship tips and mentorship, like YPO, or a group that focuses on a specific skill, like Toastmasters, or even just a book club. It’s imperative to surround yourself with inspiring, like-minded individuals who will help propel you into the best version of your future.
Likewise, find a way to give back and be a part of something bigger. Whether it’s mentoring a student or joining the board of a local non-profit organization, you’ll feel fulfilled in ways that you never expected. And you’ll find that the people you meet while participating in these endeavors will also be among those who support you the most.
Be Confident in Your Leadership Role
The kind of leadership that women have to offer is different than traditional, male-dominated styles – and that’s incredibly advantageous. Women are by nature more intuitive, empathetic and concerned with building personal and business connections rather than focused on destroying the competition. Use this to your advantage. Build your community, cultivate relationships and understand that leadership comes in many forms.
It’s an important balance to strike, however, between being empathetic and being a pushover. And as women, we unfortunately sometimes get a bad rap when we advocate strongly or make hard decisions. But whether it’s asking for higher pay, negotiating a big deal or firing an employee or a client, as the leader you have to have the hard conversations and make the tough calls. You’ll find, though, that once you check it off your list, you’ll feel better and lighter than you did before. In fact, you’ll often wonder why you didn’t do it sooner! No matter what, remain confident in your decisions and secure in knowing that you are doing the best you can for your business.
Know Your Value
As women, we devalue ourselves all of the time. We are natural nurturers and most of the daily life tasks fall on us, aside from our professional responsibilities. From house cleaning, laundry and childcare to managing finances and arranging the family schedule, all of these duties are also incredibly time-consuming. This means that a woman’s time is all the more valuable, so make sure that you are consistently asking for what you know you are worth.
That’s not to say that whenever you ask for a fee increase or a raise you will get it, or that you will win every negotiation every time, but all it takes is one person to say yes to make you realize that you were truly capable of asking for more all along. For every person who tells you how much you made a difference, and how much value you have brought to their life, there are many others who may think it but don’t ever say it. So when people tell you your value, listen to them. Take it to heart and use it to fuel you in your next negotiation, and let it help carry you through the times when you don’t win.
Know What you Want
Whether you agree or not about perfection being our enemy, the truth is that as a businesswoman, you can’t always give everything in your life 100%. The important thing is to be honest with yourself about what it is that you truly want because if you are attuned to the wrong goals, you will never feel like you’ve succeeded.
Success for women like us may mean following a nonlinear path, like taking a few years off to raise a family or cutting back hours to care for a sick parent. You may earn less in those times, but if these are the moments that are truly important to you, then you’ve achieved your own personal version of “success.” And those lean years don’t last forever; they pass and give way to times when you have all of the time, energy and interest in the world to devote to your business. As long as you don’t live by others’ expectations and stay true to yourself, you’ll have no problem continually defining and redefining success — on your own terms.