It’s funny how you forget that you are indeed the one who is truly in control of your own life. And one of the most inspiring quotes that I have heard is in relation to ‘making an impact to things instead of waiting for things to impact you’. It wasn’t until I stopped and consciously thought about what I wanted to achieve that I started to make an impact in changing my personal and work life.
Although we are celebrating International Women’s Day on March 8th and I am focusing here on ideas that women can use to take control of their destiny this is relevant to everyone, even your children which I will come to later!
It is very true that in your work or personal life, your situation will not change unless you take the time to step back, evaluate what is going on, and make a conscious decision to change things. And I think this is even more important for women. Women tend to go with the flow, try to keep the peace or maintain a balance without considering whether actually by stepping forward and making conscious contributions and making their voice heard will result in a better outcome. We have much to contribute, but how do we participate more?
It takes courage to make that first step. We get settled in a routine and everything is comfortable but after a while there is that feeling that you could contribute more, you’ve become part of the scenery, you are not fulfilling your capabilities, life is happening to you instead of you controlling life. Remember we all work to have a life, not live to go to work! Work should be fulfilling and yet stimulating and if it’s not what do you find stimulating, what do you enjoy doing?
I was listening to a webinar led by Dr. Sam Collins of The Aspire Foundation1 and she talked about the concept of a ‘Vision Board’, which you may have heard of before but it was new to me. What a great concept! You take a stack of magazines, articles, newspapers, Instagram or pinterest (if you are parperless!) and spend an evening, with a glass of wine if you prefer, and cut out the images, phrases, words that resonate with you. Build a montage of wishes and dreams. It could be for work or personal. You want to Climb Everest, visit Ayers rock, move house, create a home office, change your hairstyle, visit that spa and relax, become a team leader/manager/director, become a mum. Whatever your innermost dreams and passions pin them to that board. My daughter is dithering over what to study at University, my advice – create a vision board – of course hers will be online! but still, focus on identifying what is it you enjoy doing - All else will follow.
So what’s next? You have your dreams what do you do with them?
Next, You consciously recognize that those dreams are truly what you want to achieve. You are now aware that this is what you want to do. You will now recognize those opportunities that have been around you all the time, but that you hadn’t associated with your objectives. It’s like when you play that game with your kids, spot the orange car. You don’t normally notice them at all, but all of a sudden all you see is orange cars! and that little voice in the back piping up yet again ‘orange car’ and beating you to it!! We need to be the ones spotting the opportunities now.
My first conscious step at Polycom was to find a mentor. There are many wonderful, gifted women leaders out there, and men of course, who are more than willing to give their time, expertise and knowledge to help others’ navigate the often complex world of business and career progression. Think about who you admire, people who demonstrate qualities that you would like to emulate. Life is all about recognizing attributes that you want to develop and making them your own. Until you take that first step and let it be known you want to develop, and be more involved and to participate more consciously, no one will know. It is in your hands. I know I have been very proud when gifted women approach me and ask me for advice, how did I make that first step, how do I progress? even if it is just to be a sounding board for frustration or confusion. It makes me feel good that I can help others, just a little bit, to recognize where they want to go and maybe help identify some steps on how to get there.
I wish you all success in your endeavours, take the time to check out the resources that are out there, especially with International Womens Day this Sunday, you can search online for women’s groups, webinars, books, and how to network. We are all here to help each other. Let me know how you get on! And please share if you find any other great ideas that can help us all.