5 Secrets of Successful Women

5 Secrets of Successful Women

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Money, fame, achievement. Everyone craves success on some level.

And everyone’s definition of success is slightly different.

As a working mom, my definition of success includes separate achievements for work and home.

Both realms are demanding and it can sometimes feel like I’m treading water rather than making any real progress.

I certainly could decide to simply maintain status quo. It seems much easier to maintain rather than gain.

Maintaining is especially appearling when there are so many demands both at work and at home!

But this thought just doesn’t sit right with me. Something inside keeps pushing me toward bigger and better things.

After all, there are examples everywhere of successful women excelling both at home and at work.

What are their secrets to success?

And how can you achieve success in your own life?

The obvious answer is that it depends upon what you’re trying to achieve.

If you want to be a bestselling author, you have to write a book.

And if you want to be the CEO of your own company, you need to first start and grow said company.

If you’re looking for a more organized household, you have to figure out a realistic daily organizational schedule. And stick to it.

Although the steps required to achieve success vary depending upon the specific goal, success requires certain key attributes.

Successful women everywhere are proof that success is achieveable if these key attributes are central tenets in their lives.

You may be asking yourself exactly what these key attributes are.

Don’t worry – I’ve got you covered! Read on to find out.

Successful Women Work Hard

“I never dreamed about success. I worked for it.”

Estee Lauder

Rachel Hollis is one of my all-time favorite successful women. She is both motivational and inspirational but also delivers honesty.

Brutal honesty at times.

In one of her recent podcasts, she made a statement which has stuck with me ever since.

“Success is supposed to be hard.”

On some level, I already knew this. But to hear someone say it was oddly comforting.

Sometimes I get lulled into the assumption that if something is hard, I must be doing it wrong. As if ease somehow guarantees the correct path.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Accomplishing anything requires time and effort. Repeated over and over and over.

Early mornings. Late nights. Sacrifice.

Successful women are not born that way. Success is merely the pay-off for all the work they put in towards their goals.

Although wildly successful now, Rachel definitely didn’t start out that way.

Her book highlights her struggles with anxiety, self-confidence, and carving out her own career path.

A path paved by long hours of volunteering alongside her regular job to learn what she ultimately knew she needed to know to succeed on her own.

She is adament that success doesn’t randomly find you. Rather, you must put forth the effort to find it.

Successful Women Never Give Up

“Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.”

Harriet Beecher Stowe

And speaking of putting forth effort … successful women never give up! No matter what.

Success requires persistence.

Extreme persistence.

The persistence of a woman with a spark of an idea for something bigger.

Despite seemingly insurmountable odds including divorce and raising a daughter on her own, the spark grows.

And she writes. She continues fanning the flames of inspiration despite struggling to make ends meet.

Five years after the spark of an idea initially comes to her, she finishes the manuscript.

And the manuscript is rejected by 12 different publishers before finally being accepted by one.

Her persistence pays off and she eventually becomes author of the best-selling book series in history.

J. K. Rowling achieved remarkable success, at least in part thanks to her unwillingness to give up.

Remember all that stuff about working hard? A big piece of working hard is refusing to give up.

We just never know what life will throw at us next. And we have no way of knowing what’s around the next corner.

Success is a funny thing in that it requires an incredible amount of undefined effort.

In other words, when we decide to take action toward a goal, we have no idea exactly how much effort it will require.

We have no idea which big push will result in major pay-off.

But giving up on your goals virtually guarantees failure. And failure of this type is completely non-productive.

Successful Women Fail Forward

“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.”

J. K. Rowling

Successful women embrace failure as a tool for growth.

Failure is actually a more effective teacher than success because the lessons learned are infinitely more memorable.

If you choose to see failure in this light.

Unfortunately, our own egos tend to get in the way of learning from failure.

It can be all too easy to latch onto the negative emotion accompanying failure rather than sort through to find the value.

Ultimately the negativity can morph into bitterness over time.

You may have heard of fashion designer Vera Wang but did you know that she grew up figure skating competitively?

Vera skated in the 1968 U.S. Figure Skating Championships with her sights on making the Olympic team.

Unfortunately, she didn’t make the team.

At that point, Vera had a choice. She could allow this failure to define her and overshadow every other good thing in her life.

Or she could learn from it and choose to move forward.

And move forward she did.

Vera ultimately chose to pursue fashion and became one of the top household names in the industry today.

I will be the first to admit that I know nothing about fashion. Zero. Zip. Zilch.

And even I recognize her name.

Would the same be true if she had made the Olympic figure skating team?

There’s no way to know for sure but what can be gained from this story is the fact that you can choose to learn and grow from failure.

Failure in life is inevitable.

Don’t ever let it define you!

Successful Women Have a Plan

“Plan your work for today and every day. Then work your plan.”

Margaret Thatcher

Imagine getting into your car one day with the intention of going somewhere.

You have no idea where you want to go but have a vague sense there is somewhere you are supposed to be.

Your “to-do” list is a mile long but those things can certainly wait. After all, many of those tasks have actually been on your list for months now.

So you turn the key in the ignition and back out of the driveway.

What follows are 3 hours of aimless driving before you realize that the car is low on gas.

You pull into the gas station to fill up and suddenly realize where you were supposed to be.

At work giving a presentation.

Three hours ago.

Yikes!

Whether it’s a plan for the day, for your future, or for next week, successful women know the value of planning.

After all, how can you possibly know when you’ve achieved what you’re going after when you have no idea what you’re actually aiming for?

Planning gives you a sense of purpose and a road map to your destination.

You may also enjoy reading this post about time management for busy moms.

Successful Women Choose Gratitude

“Developing an ‘attitude of gratitude’ is one of the simplest ways to improve your satisfaction with life.”

Amy Morin

Life is unpredictable.

You can put in all the back-aching, up-all-night, totally exhausting work towards your goals and still face setback after setback.

And despite the setbacks, you can make the choice to learn and grow rather than letting them overwhelm you.

Sometimes all the planning in the world can’t even prepare you for what’s coming next.

I mean, seriously.

If I told you a year ago that in March of 2020, the entire United States would essentially shut down to prevent the spread of a virus, would you have believed me?

Probably not.

I wouldn’t have believed it myself.

And yet … here we are.

Despite the craziness, you still have control over one thing.

Your attitude.

You can still make the choice to wake up each morning seeing the rain either as a vital necessity or the horrible thing which cancels your parade.

Successful women actively seek out areas of their lives which are bright spots and express gratitude.

Taking this perspective shifts your focus off the negative of any given situation and instead allows a more productive thought process.

Learning to express gratitude rather than wallow in self-pity takes effort but is ultimately worth the work.

You may also enjoy reading this post about achieving a positive mindset.

It’s Your Turn

Although the definition of success varies from woman to woman, the secrets to achieving any type of success are similar.

Expect to work hard regardless of your goal. If success was easy, everyone would attain it.

Never ever give up! You just never know when you will break through the other side of whatever you’re trying to accomplish.

Learn from failure rather than letting it overwhelm you. Failure may be trying to point you down a completely different path than you have ever considered before.

Make a plan. Chances are, you’ll need to revise it on a regular basis. But it’s much easier to steer something that’s already in motion than to get it going in the first place.

And lastly, prioritize gratitude. There’s always something to be thankful for! Get in the habit of regularly looking for those bright spots in your life.

I hope you have come away from this post feeling a little more motivated and inspired to achieve success in your own life!

I’d love to hear your thoughts below!

5 Ways to Find Peace Despite Chaos

5 Ways to Find Peace Despite Chaos

The world is a strange place right now.

Here in Wisconsin, the governor ordered closure of all bars and restaurants earlier this week.

If you know anything about Wisconsin, it’s that our population relies on its dense population of bars and churches to survive.

And churches across the state closed their doors over the weekend.

Last week, nursing homes across the state made the incredibly difficult decision to close their doors to visitors.

The public school system has been shut down.

Sports stadiums everywhere are silent.

Companies are finding ways for their employees to work from home.

These are truly unprecedented times we are living in.

Life as we have come to know it is changing rapidly.

Amidst all the crazy toilet paper buying, doomsday prepping, and constant media coverage, anxiety is at an all-time high.

We have no way of knowing what tomorrow will bring.

The realities of preparing for the coronavirus have impacted most aspects of my own life. It feels like everywhere I turn, there are new reasons to stress.

It all feels very overwhelming.

Getting swept up in the madness is so easy!

But is that really how you want to live your life? At the mercy of whatever crisis the media is currently fixated on?

Or would you rather take charge of anxiety, grounded in peace that you, in fact, can handle whatever life throws at you?

You do have a choice. Either be consumed by anxiety. Or choose peace.

Lately I have been focusing on how to find peace despite the chaos.

And the great news? You can too! Here are 5 ways to get started today.

1. Find peace despite chaos through time spent with loved ones

In the midst of chaos, routines are turned upside down.

Soccer practice? Cancelled.

Your after-hours work event? Cancelled.

Cheerleading? Cancelled.

But do you know what hasn’t been cancelled?

Family dinner.

A walk through the neighborhood.

Game night.

Although we would never have expected our social calendars to suddenly clear, is it really such a bad thing?

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel like my schedule is filled with obligations rather than meaning.

It can often feel like I say “yes” to things because of what others want me to be or do. I forget to listen to my own voice. And if I don’t prioritize my own time, there’s no one on this earth who will do it for me!

There is also a tendency to take the time spent with friends and family for granted. We can get lulled into thinking they will always be there waiting for us.

It’s far too easy to get caught up in the mundane of the routine and forget to connect with those around us.

If there’s anything the uncertainty of the past couple of weeks has taught me, it’s that the time is now.

We can’t take anything for granted because we have no idea what’s coming tomorrow.

Uncertainty reminds us that being intentional about our time and creating meaningful connections with others are both incredibly important.

The silver lining in all this social distancing is actually a brand new start. The slate is wiped clean. We are free to start all over again with a better understanding of our goals and priorities.

Including, and especially, our loved ones.

You have an amazing opportunity to both reconnect with your loved ones and to find peace despite the chaos!

And thanks to technology, you can both reconnect and maintain social distancing guidelines.

So take a step in the right direction today. Give someone you haven’t spoken with in awhile a call. Reach out and make a connection.

After all, what better conversation starter could there be than a gigantic, nationwide toilet paper shortage? It really couldn’t get any easier than that!

2. Turn off the news

Yes, the news is important. It has a vital role in keeping all of us updated on happenings both local and around the world.

But they also want to keep you coming back for more.

They want you to choose them over every other news channel (or website) out there.

And how do they hook you?

By feeding into your emotions, namely fear.

Remember the principle of fight or flight? Biologically speaking, fear triggers an incredibly strong chemical response within your body.

The fear response is stronger than the response garnered by most other emotions.

The news media keeps you hooked by triggering your fear response. Over and over and over again.

They are making sure you continue to tune in by scaring you.

I am all for being updated on the facts of various occurrences.

But I am not about to be fed sensationalized versions of facts whose only purpose is to scare me into continuing to watch.

And my advice to you? Figure out exactly what it is you need to know and then locate an organization focused on the facts.

For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has the most up-to-date information on travel restrictions and ways to stay healthy.

Local county health departments are tracking the latest statistics on people impacted in your area.

Neither source will give you sensationalized accounts of how everyone in America will eventually succumb to the virus and 50% of those people will die.

They will simply give you facts. Nothing more, nothing less.

Why would you ever need anything more than that?

3. Search for the positive amidst the negative

When everything goes haywire, it’s incredibly easy to focus on what’s going wrong.

Especially when the changes are as surreal as those happening right now.

If you had told me a year ago that a virus would close down the public school system indefinitely, I would never have believed you.

Likewise, I would never have believed that I would shop my local Wal-Mart at 7 a.m. and find the shelves as bare as I’ve ever seen them.

Or that those same Wal-Mart shelves would be completely devoid of toilet paper.

Changes this dramatic are very unsettling.

But focusing on the negative will only get you to a place of deeper anxiety.

As strange as all the recent events have been, it will all eventually fade into our memories.

Restaurants will open back up again.

Kids will complain about playing basketball in gym class (or maybe that was just me!?).

You will once again be able to meet up with your bestie for coffee without regulation that you sit at least 6 feet apart.

Believe it or not, good things are coming out of all this madness.

One example in my own life is my daycare’s decision to close, coincidentally at the same time my in-laws went on vacation out-of-state.

We have never relied too heavily on sitters so our list is incredibly short. Unfortunately, our usual sitter was already committed elsewhere.

My friend put out a Facebook post that her teenage daughter was available to watch kiddos. I decided to reach out and give it a try.

And do you know what happened?

The kids loved her! They had a great time and now our sitter list is just a bit longer.

Although it takes effort, we can choose to look for the positives in an otherwise negative situation.

Be a positive force in an otherwise chaotic world.

You may also enjoy reading this post about how to get yourself into a positive mindset.

4. Find peace despite chaos through rest

I am guilty of completely over-booking myself. Day after day, week after week, month after month.

Between home, work, and my very limited social life, I feel compelled to constantly be doing something.

My house could always use some type of attention, whether it’s laundry, the floors, or the messy bathroom.

And based upon the piles of dirty laundry which appear every week, I swear to you that there are at least 3 extra people living in my house who I’ve never met. Which begs the question … why aren’t they helping with their laundry?

Also, would it kill them to sweep the floor once in awhile?

Work has also been a challenge as within the past year, I have transitioned to the new role of nurse practitioner. And when you take on a new role, there’s always an abundance to learn and improve upon.

Especially during such an unpredented time as this.

I do have to admit that my social life is essentially non-existent at this point and the virus is not entirely to blame. Between work and home, I simply have no extra energy left to devote to its revival.

Although I have never been someone with a wide social circle, the people I do consider friends are very near and dear to me.

And many of them are also in the midst of figuring out their own work/life balance.

But I have always felt that I could do a better job of staying connected with friends despite my very introverted tendencies.

I am constantly lying to myself about the possibility of a break. “I’ll just keep going until xyz and then I will take some time for myself.”

But when xyz happens, I never take the promised break.

And then I wonder why I’m constantly so exhausted.

Sometimes, we just need a break. And maybe this is God’s way of forcing a break on all of us.

Anxiety feeds off fatigue, exhaustion, and overhwelm. Stop anxiety in its tracks by taking a nap, a Netflix break, or by picking up a good book.

Take advantage of this moment to stop “being” and to instead just “be.”

5. Have faith

At a time when even churches have closed their doors, the world may seem a very hopeless place right now.

Although there are changes sweeping the nation and the world, we have to remember that we have never really been in charge anyway.

Whether it’s coronavirus or some other crazy disease threatening the world, we have no idea what tomorrow will bring.

We can only do our very best to do what we can with what we have and leave the rest in God’s hands.

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.

Romans 5: 1-2

Anxiety never changes tomorrow’s outcome but it does steal today’s peace.

My challenge to you today is to choose peace. Reject anxiety.

Focus on the good. Make a difference where you can. Help someone else out.

And never lose your faith that all will work out according to God’s plan.

It’s Your Turn

There’s no denying the big changes happening everywhere.

Between all the closings, the constant news media coverage, and the empty store shelves, some would have you believe the world itself is ending.

But it’s really not all bad!

Social distancing is a technique useful for minimizing the impact illnesses such as the coronavirus can have on a population.

It’s a way we can both conserve resources and protect those who are most vulnerable.

Yes, it’s definitely unsettling to drive through an eerily quiet city.

But this too will pass.

And by taking these drastic measures, I pray the impact will be minimal.

I can only imagine that we will also have a much greater appreciation for having the ability to once again gather with friends and family.

Seize this unsettling time to find peace despite chaos.

Choosing peace will help you become a stronger and more resilient person, better equipped to take on the next crisis thrown at you.

After all, doesn’t surviving a toilet paper shortage equip you to overcome basically anything???

I would love to hear your thoughts on this post below! What are you struggling with right now and what has helped you find peace despite chaos?

Achieve a Positive Mindset … Achieve Your Goals!

Achieve a Positive Mindset … Achieve Your Goals!

I have a confession to make. A deep, dark secret which is tough to admit even to myself.

The secret is that a negative mindset has destroyed progress toward so many of my goals in life.

Goals such as getting (and keeping!) my house organized. Expanding my piano repertoire by learning new pieces. Becoming more intentional about my time by saying “no” to people pleasing.

The Root of the Problem

The problem isn’t that I don’t have a strong “why.” It also has nothing to do with being unaware of how to get where I want to go.

For me, the problem lies with negativity.

There have been so many times when I make actual progress toward a goal only to wake up one day with a negative mindset. Maybe I didn’t sleep well the night before. Or maybe I missed my morning run.

Whatever the initial reason, negativity sinks its teeth in and takes over.

It all starts with doubt which causes me to question the validity of my goal.

Accomplishing the goal suddenly seems impossible, unattainable, and even a waste of time.

Something which once seemed absolutely worth doing loses its meaning in the face of negativity.

Does this sound like you? Have you ever started passionately chasing a goal only to be stopped in your tracks by a negative mindset?

A Cycle of Negativity

A negative mindset, however small it starts, can be powerful enough to send me into a cycle of self-sabotage.

The cycle goes something like this …

I get excited about a new goal and figure out which small, daily steps will help me accomplish it.

At first, I’m so excited about this goal that nothing can dissuade me from believing I will acomplish it.

Taking those small, daily steps is simple at first because when you start from zero, seeing progress is easy.

Regardless of the goal, progress gets tougher at some point.

The initial excitement of having a new goal begins to fade away. You hit a wall and are forced to either learn and adapt or abandon ship.

Growth is required to move beyond the starting point. And growth never comes without some type of turmoil.

Seeds of Doubt

And for me, that turmoil usually involves a tiny seed of doubt.

It typically boils down to perfectionism and (admittedly) unattainable standards.

The lie of perfection feeds thoughts of inadequacy and stalls progress. My mindset suddenly shifts from positive to negative.

It quickly becomes easy to find every excuse in the book to stop taking action toward my goal.

After all, with a husband, 3 kids, and a full-time career I don’t have to look very far to find an excuse!

Armed with an excuse rationalized as quite validly justified in my mind, all daily actions stop. And my goal withers away to nothing.

The tiny seed of doubt, watered by ridiculous excuses, soon grows into a huge tree preventing personal growth.

“We are all gardeners, planting seeds of intention and watering them with attention in every moment of every day.”

Cristen Rodgers

Goals, Mindset, and Success

If going after goals is so difficult, why do it? Why not just stay exactly where you are right now? And what does mindset have to do with any of this?

I am a firm believer that growth is essential to life itself. We are constantly evolving into different versions of ourselves.

Goals provide a framework and a direction for growth. There are a million different ways we could choose to grow. But chasing all of them at once means never making meaningful progress in any of them.

It’s only when we focus our attention on a specific goal that we see progress. Whatever has our attention sees progress.

Our mindset ultimately determines success or failure in the areas where our attention is focused.

If we don’t pay attention to keeping our mindset positive, overwhelm, self-sabotage, and a tendency to remain stagnant can easily creep in.

We remain stuck where we are if we don’t keep pursuing goals. We ultimately fail to accomplish what we set out to do.

And even beyond the disappointment of one failed goal is the pattern of quitting which can quickly establish itself.

A negative mindset can set you up to fail time after time. After awhile, negativity can convince you that trying again one more time is simply not worth it.

Awareness: The First Step Toward A Positive Mindset

We need positivity and small achievements here and there to encourage us to keep going even when it’s tough.

The abilites to enjoy life, experience happiness, and achieve success depend upon mindset. Achieving a positive mindset is crucial!

Are you ready to learn how to transform your mindset from self-sabotaging negativity to one of goal-conquering positivity? Although incorporating the following tactics does require some consistency, each one is actually quite simple.

As with most things in life, the very first step is awareness.

Pay attention to your thought patterns. Are the conversations you have with yourself dominated by motivational self-talk? Or do they tend to have negative overtones causing you to question yourself?

Capture your thoughts on paper by spending some time writing them down.

Can you identify any common themes to your thoughts? Can you figure out the root cause behind the negativity?

In many instances, self-defeating thoughts are driven by a random negative comment made by someone years ago. Or a past situation which you perceive as having ended poorly.

Our brains tend to drudge up negativity from the past and automate it into self-defeat or other negative thought patterns.

It’s only when we take the time to process through our automated thinking that we begin to make connections and positive change.

I have found that it’s incredibly easy to let my thinking go on auto-pilot. When on auto-pilot, the mind brings forth patterns of thinking which have developed over long periods of time.

Patterns which may be based upon completely false information but which evoke feelings of low self-esteem, low self-confidence, and defeat.

Challenge Your Thoughts

Transferring your thoughts to paper gives them an element of reality which is otherwise difficult to capture. Seeing the words in black and white gives you the opportunity to analyze and even dispute the negativity.

Patterns of thinking can become so ingrained into your thought life that they are nearly impossible to identify unless they are written down.

And yet these patterns are powerful enough to hold you back from your full potential and stop personal growth.

Once you have started writing down your thoughts, you can begin to challenge them. Is there any truth whatsoever behind those self-defeating thoughts? Begin to focus in on where the thought originated from and then work to re-frame it.

Through writing down my own thought patterns, I have discovered that perfectionism often holds me back from progress. I have held onto the false belief that everything in my life has to be absolutely perfect for my life to have meaning.

Perfectionism is a lie which has kept me stuck in a negative rut.

Unfortunately, growth is messy and imperfect. Mistakes and missteps are a prerequisite to finding the right path.

There is no perfection in life and continuing to believe this lie would forever keep me stuck.

Uncovering the source of my negative mindset has been incredibly helpful in moving toward a more positive one. Learning or doing something new requires mistakes!

My need to live up to some skewed definition of perfection has so often caused me to abandon goals and remain stagnant.

But the good news is that through awarenss, I have now been able to identify exactly where my goals derail. Instead of letting myself go down the perfectionism trail, I can use various other tactics to keep myself going toward growth.

Find a Mentor

Adopting a growth mindset is often easier when you are surrounded by others who have a similar mindset.

Seek out the company of others who are also interested in personal growth and maintaing a positive mindset.

Consider finding a mentor or coach to assist you in attaining your goals. This is especially helpful if you are looking to advance your skills in a particular area.

Finding a coach has been pivotal in several areas of my life, most notably in one of my favorite hobbies.

A few years ago, I decided to pursue a type of horseback riding called dressage. I grew up riding in a completely different discipline but had always been intrigued by dressage.

And so, I looked around for an instructor.

A couple of weeks later, I finally found someone with not only a great deal of experience in the sport of dressage but who also has a growth mindset herself.

It’s been 4 years and I continue to take so much value from not only the lessons themselves but their application to life in general.

Finding an instructor with a positive mindset has been such a blessing in my own life! I highly encourage you to find that person in a relevant area of your own life.

Accountability and learning from others propels growth in ways which are otherwise difficult to achieve.

Your Physical Health

And speaking of personal growth …. maintaining a positive mindset is nearly impossible if you’re not paying attention to your physical health.

The food you put into your body, exercise, and sleep all have a profound impact on your mental wellbeing and simply cannot be ignored!

The Gut-Brain Connection

Believe it or not, there is a strong connection between the brain and the gut.

Think about the last time you did something which made you nervous. Maybe it was a job interview, presentation, or even watching your daughter’s big soccer game. Did you have butterflies in your stomach?

If so, you have experienced the gut-brain connection firsthand.

Although we are only beginning to understand the science behind the connection, the fact that there is a connection simply cannot be disputed.

When your brain is stressed and in a negative mindset, your stomach is impacted. You may even experience abdominal pain and cramping during times of high anxiety and depression. Likewise, when your stomach is in distress, signals with the potential to darken your mindset are sent to your brain.

The great news is that there are certain foods which can reduce anxiety and therefore minimize abdominal distress.

Foods high in vitamin C, healthy fats, and magnesium work in different ways to naturally reduce stress hormones and elevate your mood. Look for ways to add foods such as pistachios, salmon, oranges, and avocados to your diet.

Move Your Body

I know that exercise may not be everyone’s idea of a great time, but it does wonders for your brain health!

Exercise actually releases feel-good hormones in your brain, elevating your mood and giving you a sense of accomplishment.

Beyond the natural release of hormones which comes with exercise is the focus required to do it.

Shifting your focus to completing a physical task often leaves little mental space to ruminate yourself further into a negative spiral.

It gives your brain an opportunity to shift the focus elsewhere and to stop the tendency to spiral further.

One of the reasons that I love dressage so much is that it requires a great deal of both mental focus and physical energy.

Great riders make it look completely effortless but the truth is that the sport requires the rider to constantly adjust the horse into “effortless.”

The rider must always read the horse’s movements and transfer that information into physical movements communicated back to the horse.

In short, dressage requires intense focus combined with physical prowess and there is little room left over to ruminate on the negative.

It completely engrosses me and by doing so, gives me a sense of wellbeing and accomplishment that few other activities do.

I highly recommend that you find some type of physical activity which mentally and physically challenges you. You will find it much easier to develop a positive mindset by regularly exercising!

Sleep Perks

Somewhere along the line, we have developed a distorted view of sleep.

In today’s world, it’s all about how much can be accomplished on the least amount of sleep. Society today wears sleep deprivation like a badge of honor.

Everywhere you look, there are ads for energy drinks, supplements, and caffeine-filled products guaranteed to help you stay awake for days.

Meanwhile, there are equally as many ads for medications and supplements guaranteed to put you to sleep when you’re struggling with insomnia.

The reality is our bodies NEED sleep. It’s the reset button which brings us back to neutral and refreshes our minds and bodies.

There is no positive mindset without adequate rest.

And we are making sleep way too complicated. Caffeine, screen time before bed, and unrelieved anxiety all work against quality sleep.

Simple adjustments to your daily (and nightly) routines can do wonders in helping you get a good night’s sleep. Check out this post for more tips on getting restful sleep at night.

Calm Your Mind

Learning how to calm your mind can also have a dramatic impact on your ability to attain a positive mindset. One way to do this is through meditation.

This ancient practice helps you become more aware of your thoughts. You can then begin to control your thoughts and learn how to manage negative feelings.

I was sceptical of meditation until trying it a few months ago.

Meditation does require practice however I immediately began noticing positive changes. It helped me develop an awareness of my thoughts and the need to stop thinking on auto-pilot.

I have also learned techniques for avoiding negative chatter in my mind. Negative chatter, fueled by insecurity and overwhelm, can swirl into a perfect storm of anxiety.

Although it can feel as if we have no control over our thoughts (and especially the negative chatter), we absolutely do.

Meditation clears space for peace and introspection within your mind, essential components to developing a more positive mindset.

Meditation is an essential piece of developing a more positive mindset!

If you are completely new to meditation, I highly recommend this app. I can’t say enough about the positive changes I have seen since I started using it!

It’s Your Turn to Work on a Positive Mindset

Goals are important because when done consistently, they build into habits. Habits form the backbone of lasting change and goal attainment. Without small goals performed consistently, goal attainment is impossible, even more so without a positive mindset.

I hope you have found these tactics helpful. You can do hard things! But you must work to establish a foundation based upon positivity in order to do so.

Developing a more positive outlook doesn’t have to be difficult. Take small action every day to see bigger changes down the road.

I’d love to hear your thoughts below on what you found most helpful! Until next time …. keep chasing after those goals! Remember, the only failure in life is quitting.

The Secret to Making Working Mom Life Work

The Secret to Making Working Mom Life Work

After a particularly long and stressful day a few weeks ago, I had an epiphany. It suddenly hit me that I am a working mom. Not a very timely epiphany as my first child is 9 and I worked before and after her birth. But an epiphany, nonetheless.

There are times when navigating a full-time career and managing a household feels incredibly overwhelming. In these dark moments, the questions in my mind arise.

“How can I possibly do everything that needs to be done in a day?”

“Is it selfish to take time for myself?”

“Am I taking anything away from my kids by also having a career?”

“Could I be a better mother if I devoted more time to it?”

“Why am I so hopelessly disorganized?”

These are the moments when I question everything. Maybe these questions have also arisen in your mind?

And although I do consider myself to have perfectionist tendencies, I am a terrible planner. I put very little thought or effort into thinking ahead about certain things. Life has a way of happening and I’ve always emphasized the big decisions while letting the smaller ones go.

But working mom life is tough! So tough that I wonder whether it is possible to excel in one’s career and at home. All while staying hydrated, getting enough sleep, excercising, socializing, and staying sane. Basically doing all the things.

How do you do all the things as a working mom? Are there other moms out there who feel the same way?

It begs the question of how I even got on this crazy path.

This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Please see our full disclosure for further information.

Past and Present

Whether or not I should work has never been the question. Even after having kids, I’ve always felt a strong pull to contribute to my family financially. Having been raised on a dairy farm, I learned very early on that work is simply a part of life.

The act of working in and of itself brings me a great deal of satisfaction. But my career path has taken twists and turns that I never expected.

If there’s anything I’ve learned thus far, it’s that life is unexpected and forces you to pivot.

After graduating with a fine arts degree in music, I found myself living in a tiny Wisconsin town. If you know anything about tiny Wisconsin towns, you know that they are basically comprised of bars and churches. Bleak job prospects for a newly graduated music major. And although I did take a position playing Sunday services for a couple of area churches, I didn’t make nearly enough to support myself.

You may also enjoy reading Stop Caring What “They” Think.

I needed a new plan.

Luckily, I had completed a certified nursing assistant (CNA) course in college and decided to apply for a position at a local nursing home. This one decision launched an entirely different type of career path than I had ever considered before.

A path which would eventually lead from CNA in a nursing home to nurse practitioner for people residing in a nursing home. Throw a marriage, a daughter, divorce, a second marriage, and two sons into the mix and here we are today.

But until recently, I had never sat down to think about HOW one goes about managing a career and family. What does this actually look like and can the two be meshed together in some type of cohesive way?

Career and Family

All great questions. My working mom epiphany was starting to lead me down a path of discovery. And so I did what I usually do whenever I have a curious thought which won’t go away. I looked for a book which could help me better understand this concept of working while raising a family.

The book I found was a collection of individual stories of women who work and also have children. Stories of women who climbed the corporate ladder and those who ultimately chose to adjust their careers around their home life. Women juggling PTO, sick days, vacation, and wardrobe malfunctions all in the name of excelling at work and at home.

An entire book all about the good, the bad, and the ugly of being a working mom.

And to be honest, the book was initially a letdown.

I didn’t need some book to tell me that mom guilt about being at work versus at my daughter’s school event is real. Or that a morning routine (or lack thereof) can make or break your day. I truly wasn’t looking for a story about another woman’s husband chipping in at home so she could work.

It was answers I was after. Answers about how to manage the overwhelming chaos of working mom life. Easy-to-follow checklists for taming the daily disarray. Hints about fitting self-care into a tumultuous schedule. Encouragement that yes, things will in fact get better.

Stories are nice but they aren’t answers.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m super happy that Susan’s husband vacuums and scrubs the toilets. But how did she get him to take on these tasks?

And congratulations to Lindsay on cutting back to part-time hours! But what about the options if your family’s economic stability depends upon your full-time hours?

It’s amazing that Cheryl was able to negotiate her employer into allowing her some time to work-from-home. But how is this story beneficial when your career is not amenable to working from home?

I was beginning to think that there simply were no answers to the questions I was asking.

More Questions Than Answers

Despite my initial disappointment in the book’s inability to answer my questions, I kept reading it. Mostly because I was 50 pages in at that point and already invested.

After all, it was possible that the answers I was looking for were in the very last chapter. Or in some type of bonus chapter. It was also entirely possible that the secret to managing my working mom life was in an exclusive online book resource.

I had to keep reading to make sure I wasn’t missing out on anything that all the other working moms somehow knew. Working mom life would be much easier if there was a secret to making it all balance. If not a secret, then maybe a magical fairy or elf.

Picture this. It’s been a long day at work, you’re tired, and your toddler screams all the way home from day care. And then continues screaming because you won’t let him lick the soap dispenser at home. His older brother, slighted because you asked how his day went, quickly joins in the screaming. Just to top it all off, their older sister starts yelling because she is annoyed at the screaming of the other two.

You’ve been there before too, right?

In this moment, wouldn’t it be great if you could tap into some deep well of knowledge? In fact, wouldn’t it be great if you could suddenly feel calm, cool, and collected about all areas of your working and home life? If you could simply let the stress of the work day melt away amidst the screaming tantrums of your kids.

Admit how great it would feel if you could drop the constant feelings of competition between work and home. The feeling that because you work, you’re somehow dropping the ball at home. Or the feeling that because you take time off to care for a sick child, you’re slacking off at work. And on and on and on.

Although I didn’t realize it at the time, I was looking for reassurance. Reassurance that I wasn’t the only one feeling the constant conflict between work and home life. I needed to hear that I wasn’t the only one with more questions than answers.

The Working Mom Secret

It wasn’t until I was almost through with the book that it suddenly hit me.

I wasn’t the only one questioning how to make it all work! There was no magical “one size fits all” answer for achieving balance in your working mom life.

And do you know what else I learned?

There are forces beyond my control influencing my thoughts, feelings, and responses to “balancing” working mom life. Forces contributing to my feelings of overwhelm and constant questioning.

These forces run deep. Some are rooted in society’s expectations about male and female roles both inside and outside the home. Others stem from the influences of social media and comparison. Still others are deeply personal and come from your own expectations of who you ARE versus who you SHOULD be.

And let’s not forget the expectations of your spouse, friends, family, and coworkers. The unsolicited advice about how to learn more, be more, and do more. Advice on how to make all the bits and pieces of your life come together into a pretty picture.

In short, working moms are struggling against a plethora of outside forces. This struggle only sets us up for more and more questions.

Unless we stop and consider what is truly driving our feelings, emotions, and actions, we will never come to a better understanding of the issue.

And how does one come to a better understanding of an issue?

By asking questions, seeking out information, and sifting through one’s deepest underlying thoughts and beliefs.

The secret to a better understanding of working mom life is to ask more questions.

I know this may not be the answer you were hoping for. Believe me, I completely understand your frustration in now having more questions than answers.

But at the end of the day, working moms all have completely different hopes, dreams, and goals.

We are all individuals. Each of us has a unique perspective to contribute.

What’s Your Perspective?

By this point, you’re probably asking yourself, “Ok, great. But now what? How can I apply this in my own life?”

You can start by ditching the concept of “balancing” home and work lives. The word “balance” means equilibrium. Equality between two separate entities.

In working mom life, there is NO. SUCH. THING. as balance.

Life is unexpected. You will constantly need to make tough choices. Choices which result in favoring one thing over another.

This is just the nature of life. Accept that there will be times when you need to choose family over work. And vice versa. It’s ok.

Know that all working moms wrestle with these questions. If not these same exact questions, then eerily similar ones.

None of us really knows what we’re doing. We’re all just doing the very best we can with what we have. Approach each new day with the faith that you are making progress. Forgive yourself.

Talk with other working moms who may be going through the same struggles as you. Working moms are a community of incredibly strong, resourceful, and resilient women. We absolutely need to avoid tearing each other down but rather stick together!

And stay curious. If you’re struggling, look for resources. In today’s world, there is an abundance of information out there. Don’t keep yourself in the darkness of overwhelm when all you need to do is simply reach out and turn on the light switch.

Keep asking questions until you find the answers you’re looking for! Or at least until you get to the questions which get you to the root of your hang-up.

If you’re looking for a starting point, check out the book which inspired today’s post here. This book triggered so much emotionally for me and inspired my belief that the answer to this issue is complex and actually lies in the questions.

If a podcast is more your style, check out one of my personal favs below!

  • Do It Scared with Ruth Soukup
  • The Confidence Podcast with Trish Blackwell
  • Rise Podcast with Rachel Hollis

And always remember that you’re not on this journey alone. Life with kids requires a complete transformation. You cannot live the same way you did before having kids. And my guess is that you wouldn’t want to. Kids add an element of fulfillment unmatched by anything else!

And now it’s your turn. What are your current challenges, questions, and stresses? Where do you find yourself constantly getting hung up? What are the forces beyond your control which are currently impacting you in a big way? I’d love to hear your thoughts on all of this and more below!

New Year’s Resolutions For Any Time of Year

New Year’s Resolutions For Any Time of Year

Can you believe that we are about to turn the calendar over to 2020 and are already talking about new year’s resolutions? I’m not sure about you but 2019 flew right by me! My 2019 was a year of both endings and new beginnings. It was the year that I finished the graduate nursing education journey I had started 3 years prior. But it was also the year that I said goodbye to a position with a company which felt like home.

Graduation meant taking a leap into an entirely new position within a completely different organization. An opportunity to embrace the change and grow in new and completely different ways than had ever been possible before. I am a firm believer that life is about the journey and not the destination.

But the belief in the beauty of the journey rather than the destination has taken me years to embrace. I never fully understood the value of implementing the wisdom in living my life this way until recently.

The reality is that while facing the daily challenges of balancing family, work, and school, my mindset shifted. I began focusing on graduation and moving beyond the daily stress of class and meeting homework deadlines. The phrase, “when I’m done with school” constantly crossed my mind and lips. My mind began to focus on the utopian future which would suddenly descend upon me once I held the diploma in my hand.

I stopped looking for the joy in my daily life.

Past New Year’s Resolutions

This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Please see our full disclosure for further information.

You’re probably wondering what all of this has to do with your 2020 new year’s resolutions. Let me explain.

Looking back over the past 5 years, how many new year’s resolutions have you kept? Following through with resolutions is incredibly difficult if your focus is on the destination instead of the journey.

It works like this. As the new year approaches, you begin thinking about how great life would be if you were 15 pounds lighter. You’d actually feel like exercising, it would be easier to make healthier food choices, and you’d look amazing in your clothes. You would be unstoppable!

January 1 rolls around and you hit the gym, make yourself a salad for lunch, and turn down dessert after supper. You and your new year’s resolutions are off to a great start! All you can think about is how great life is going to be in 15 pounds.

Two weeks later, you hit a wall. You’ve been battling a cold, mornings come way too early, and you are just worn out. You’re running late for work and decide to just hit the drive through instead of packing a lunch. Slowly but surely you slip into your old habits again.

Fueled by the frustration of drifting farther and farther from your health goals, the guilt and shame of failure sets in. You feel further than ever from that elusive 15 pounds and at this point, it might as well be 50 pounds. Focusing on the destination has delivered you to the place where you once again put your goals on the shelf until the calendar flips over a new year. And repeat.

A focus on the destination will fail every time because our goals are often too big to sustain us through the daily grind. Achieving any new goal requires change in mindset and routine. Changing these areas of your daily life to achieve the goal can often be the toughest part. It’s incredibly easy to slip back into your old ways when the work required to change feels harder than the pay-off of the end goal.

Focus on the Journey

But what happens when you flip the mindset and instead focus on the journey? What does focusing on the journey actually look like?

In terms of new year’s resolutions, focusing on the journey means breaking the larger resolution down into daily action steps. It then means adapting each action step into your life in a way which is both motivating and satisfying. And most importantly, it means giving yourself permission to fail occasionally but the grace to move beyond the temporary setback.

Yes … you read that correctly. Set yourself up for success by actively planning for and moving past moments of setback.

Let’s take a look at my previous example of losing 15 pounds. Focusing on the journey means breaking down the steps you will need to take to accomplish this goal. Maybe you decide to hit the gym 4 days a week, pack healthy lunches for work instead of eating out, and cut back on dessert 3 days a week. These are the daily action steps needed to get to your goal.

Now to find ways of making these daily action steps both satisfying and motivating.

Maybe you are challenged with having 5 books on your “must read” list and no time in which to read them. This is a perfect opportunity to reward yourself with gym time by downloading an audio book app and only listening while working out.

Or maybe you are highly motivated by statistics so you find an app which tracks your workouts. You can then derive satisfaction from seeing all the miles you’ve racked up since you started.

There are any number of ways to satisfy and motivate yourself to continue the small, daily tasks required to accomplish larger goals. It’s often a matter of figuring out what motivates you individually.

The last piece of making your new year’s resolution a permanent part of your life is planning for setbacks. Setbacks are inevitable. No matter how satisfying and motivating you make your daily action steps, life happens and there will be times you need to take a step back. Keeping a new year’s resolution is not about whether you screw up but rather what your next step is when you fall off the wagon.

Do you miss a day at the gym, immediately feel incredibly guilty, and then decide to double down by having cheat meals for the next 10 months? Or do you give yourself some grace for being human and get back on track the next day?

To accomplish huge goals, including new year’s resolutions, you must take a series of small, daily steps which inch you ever closer to where you want to be. There will be days when you are not able to take those steps. But make up for it by choosing to take steps at the very next opportunity.

Focusing on the journey means actively seeking out the joy in your daily life. Choose to live in the now instead of chasing after the imaginary paradise of the destination.

Enjoying the journey rather than continually chasing the destination gives you the opportunity to figure out where you’re headed and whether this is the journey you actually want to be on. It gives you the power to evaluate and adjust your course regardless of where you’re at in your journey. You can make positive changes regardless of whether it’s January 1st or October 10th. The power is in your hands.

And if you’re looking for ideas on where to begin, I’ve got you covered! Check out the list below for simple new year’s resolutions divided out by category.

Physical Health

Work out 3 days a week. If you’re looking for an activity tracking app, check out this one which motivated me to log almost 400 miles this year!

Replace your usual lunch with a salad 3 days a week. Make packing easier with this bowl designed for lunch on-the-go.

Drink more water. This water bottle takes the guess work out of incorporating drinking more into your already busy lifestyle.

Sign up for a fitness class with a friend to increase your accountability and to make the class more fun.

Reduce your daily sodium intake to decrease your blood pressure and your overall cardiovascular risk.

Cook at home instead of eating out so you can control what goes into your meals. Find a new crockpot recipe and tame the supper chaos!

Increase your daily step count by taking the stairs instead of the elevator and by replacing a work break with an outside walk. Doing so will not only provide instant health benefits but will make you more refreshed and efficient when you return to your desk.

Drink less soda. The caffeine in many types of soda can interrupt your sleep while the sugar adds empty calories that are often unnecessary.

Add fresh fruits and vegetables to your diet on a daily basis. Check out this cookbook for fresh recipe ideas.

Cut back on alcohol. Excessive intake can negatively impact the heart, brain, liver, and immune system.

Emotional Health

Schedule time every day to pursue a hobby or activity which you find meaningful.

Incorporate a simple meditation exercise into your daily routine. Check out this app which has helped me better understand my thinking patterns and reduced my anxiety and overwhelm.

Learn strategies of relaxation to improve your mood, sleep, and to reduce certain cardiovascular risks.

Release yourself from something which has been weighing you down. We often put too much pressure on ourselves in certain areas of life and this leads to anxiety, overwhelm, and a general state of unhappiness. If you are having difficulty letting go, seek out a counselor.

Laugh. Every single day.

Limit the time you spend on social media. Although it has its perks, too much social media can suck up your time and depress your mood.

Say no more often. If whatever you’re being asked to do doesn’t light you up with joy, do yourself a favor and politely decline.

Relationships

Prioritize date night with your significant other. Spending time alone together gives you the opportunity to connect in ways that our often busy lives do not provide.

Drop the mom guilt. Do the absolute best you can and don’t worry about the rest!

Spend the last 30 minutes before bed talking with your significant other instead of losing yourself on your phone or computer.

Family game night. Need I say more?

Commit to device-free dinner, even if it’s only one night a week.

Plan a lunch date. Connecting with your partner at an unexpected time of day can create connection and leave you feeling energized for the rest of the day.

Say “I love you” more often. It’s a simple act but is something which can easily be lost in the craziness of daily life.

Set aside regular time to spend with each of your children to plan an afternoon date or participate in a fun, creative activity.

Spend some time figuring out whether you and your partner are speaking the same language. Check out this book for help.

Consider the language you use to convey messages to your partner, especially during disagreements. Use of the words “always” and “never” generally cause defensive feelings, never a positive when trying to resolve a complex situation. Seek the help of a counselor if you feel issues are continually unresolved.

Faith

Read the Bible daily. Make reading even easier with this great app which also includes all types of reading plans.

Prioritize prayer. Try setting a daily phone timer to prompt you to include this vital activity into your life.

Incorporate gratitude by writing down something you are grateful for each day.

Attend weekly church services.

Join or start a Bible study. Fellowship with others strengthens your faith and is a source of support during both good and bad times.

Volunteer your time or talents to a cause you find meaningful.

Increase your charitable donations.

Finances

Pack your lunch instead of eating out. Meal prep like a pro with these awesome containers!

Clearly identify your financial goals. Do you have debt to pay off? Looking to increase your income this year? Student loan debt piling up? The act of writing down your goals solidifies and clarifies them, making it easier to hit your target.

Track your expenses for a month to determine whether your spending aligns with your priorities.

Pick up a side gig to create another income stream.

Set up or get serious about contributing to your retirement account.

Switch to brewing your favorite drink at home instead of hitting up the drive thru line.

Cut down on both your bill and mindless screen time by cancelling your cable services. Imagine the financial possibilities with an extra $150+ a month in your account!

Career

Eliminate distractions from your work day to improve productivity. Check out this life-changing book for more on how you can take action today.

Focus on improving your self-confidence.

Read a personal development book. Or you could even aim for one per month.

Further your education. Whether you attend a formalized program or individual classes, education is a valuable asset applicable in many areas of both life and work.

Attend local networking events to expand your professional circle.

Spend some time updating your LinkedIn profile.

Find a career mentor. My greatest mentor is someone who consistently motivates and inspires me to be a better nurse today than I was yesterday.

It’s Your Turn!

And there you have it … simple habits you can incorporate into your daily life to move the needle further toward living your best life. New year’s resolutions don’t need to be complicated and in fact, the simpler, the better. Whether it’s January 1st or November 17th, you can make small changes which will add up to a more fulfilled and purposeful life.

Please drop a comment below about your own positive changes as I’d love to cheer you on!

Mom Guilt: What It Is & How You Can Beat It!

Mom Guilt: What It Is & How You Can Beat It!

Mom guilt has haunted me since I first became a mom 9 years ago.  My daughter made her appearance mid-semester of an intense nursing program.  I had been nervous about the impending birth since the positive pregnancy test.  It wasn’t necessarily the birth itself I feared, it was not graduating from the program.  Nursing programs have strict attendance policies (for good reason!) and I was terrified that I would miss time and be forced to drop out.  To make matters worse, I lived an hour away from the school I was attending.  This meant two hours tacked onto each class or clinical day.  Two hours of essentially non-productive time spent away from my daughter.

Mom guilt, fueled by a lack of sleep, school stress, and the pressures of adjusting to being a mom, elevated daily.  I had been driven to build this career long before her birth but it now seemed a selfish use of my time.  Wouldn’t she be better off with me constantly tending to her every need?  How many moments with her would I miss while learning to care for complete strangers?  What was the point of putting myself through the torture of the commute, school, and clinicals?  Would it really pay off in the end?

Mom guilt is real and crippling.  It is an insidious negativity which clouds your thinking and steals your joy.  For many moms, guilt is at the root of anxiety, feelings of overwhelm, and depression.  Even worse, feelings of guilt can drive behaviors such as addiction and perfectionism in an attempt to relieve the discomfort they cause.  But what causes mom guilt?  And more importantly, what can you do about it?  This post explores both topics and gives you actionable steps to take in healing from mom guilt.

This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Please see our full disclosure for further information.

Cause #1: Role Juggling

Wife, mom, employee, chief cook, home organizer, family coordinator and the list goes on.  And on and on and on … indefinitely.  Moms today juggle SO MANY ROLES.  Each role comes with its own set of responsibilities and challenges.  There’s simply no way to give your all within each individual role without impacting the others.  Conflict between the roles is inevitable. 

And then there are the expectations.  Everyone has an opinion about expectations related to the various roles you hold.  Your employer expects you to produce quality work.  Maybe your husband expects you to cook supper every night.  And your children expect help with their homework every night. 

You might also enjoy reading How to Find More Time in Your Day.

You also have expectations of yourself.  Expectations which hold your performance in all these roles to a certain standard.  The expectations you have for yourself can be heavily impacted by the expectations of others.  And in many cases, all these expectations are not rooted in reality and are completely unattainable.  The gap between expectation and reality is only worsened by the next cause, social media.

Cause #2: Social Media

Take a minute to look through your favorite social media feed.  Chances are, you will see flawless selfies, free of blemishes or wardrobe malfunctions.  Smiling kids and laughing babies.  Married couples smiling as they enjoy yet another date night free from conflict and petty arguments.  In short, you will see perfection.

But social media is not reality.  Behind those photos are filters, fighting kids, and the same expectation conflict you face on a daily basis.  We are all waging the same war between who we are and who we think we should be.  It’s just that this side of ourselves is often conflicted and not as pretty as any of our other sides.  This side never gets posted.

The constant exposure to everyone else’s “perfection” adds to the already unrealistic expectations you hold for yourself.  If left unresolved, all this pressure eventually leads to guilt.  It seems as if everywhere you look, moms are crushing it.  They’re packing organic lunches, volunteering for field trips, and taking strong positions against screen time for their kids.  Their home-based businesses are thriving and they’re vacationing multiple times a year.  Meanwhile, you’re left trying to remember whether you washed your hair this morning and arriving late to work.  AGAIN.  Social media leads directly into the next cause, comparison.

Cause #3: Comparison

Seeing perfection wherever you turn naturally leads you to stop and examine your own life. And let’s face it … being a mom is hard! It’s not as if we are magically handed parenting instructions at the birth of our babies. I had never even changed a diaper prior to the birth of my daughter. There were so many aspects of being a new mom that I felt completely unprepared to face. Not to mention the fact that all of those personal struggles you feel which are totally separate from being a mom are still there. You’ve now just added more uncertainty to the existing pile.

You might also enjoy reading 4 Steps to Ditching the Comparison Mindset.

Uncertainty piles on top of uncertainty and you soon find it difficult to be sure of anything anymore. Influenced by the expectations, opinions, and false perfection of all the other moms out there, you begin to question EVERYTHING. Your choice to continue working, how your kids spend their free time, your relationship with your spouse, and even your ability to take time for yourself.

Given the influences of social media and the comparison factor, it’s no wonder mom guilt is such a pervasive issue today. But what can you do about it?

Mom Guilt Solution #1: Self-Care

The first step in kicking mom guilt to the curb is self-care. You NEED to make time for yourself. I know what you’re thinking. Your schedule is packed as it is. If you’re anything like me, your plate is already brimming with tasks from the break of dawn through well after dark. How can you possibly add something else to the mix?

I get it. Your gigantic “to-do” list seems way more pressing than taking an hour out of your day to workout. Work was crazy busy today and you’re exhausted. The kids need help with homework and dinner is in an hour. Taking time for you feels selfish in the face of all that needs to be done. Will taking time out for you really make a difference?

Absolutely! Taking time out for yourself on a daily basis will change your outlook. It will boost your mood, give you confidence, and improve your ability to deal with stress. Taking the time you need reminds you of the person you are deep down inside. It revives the woman you were before anyone called you “mom.”

Although the concepts are the same, self-care looks a little bit different for everyone. We all benefit from a relatively balanced diet, regular exercise, and adequate sleep at night. But the piece that really sparks life and meaning for me is following my passions. Remembering to include time for activities which are meaningful to me makes me a better mom. When I have time to pursue these pastimes, I am calmer, more self-assured, and can face the stress of the day. In fact, identifying meaning in what you do is so important that it’s the next solution for combatting mom guilt.

Mom Guilt Solution #2: Find the Meaning

Our tendency to juggle so much as moms leads us to hone in on only those aspects of a situation which need to be fixed. If we focused on every single detail of every situation, our minds would explode. Although our brains like the automation, focusing on the negative naturally tends to block out the positive. After awhile, this can impact your entire mindset.

But there are simple ways to flip the guilt into useful energy. The first is by becoming aware of your thoughts. Often mom guilt manifests itself as intensely vague feelings disguised as anxiety, fatigue, feelings of overwhelm, and depressed mood. It’s only when you take the time to clearly identify and work through these feelings that you can begin to heal.

Journaling can be incredibly helpful in getting the vague thoughts and negative feelings out of your head. The act of writing them on paper and seeing them in black and white adds a dose of reality that attempting to process in your head simply can’t. Incorporating a daily practice of journaling either right away in the morning or before bed allows your brain to release the negativity.

Journaling can also help you to begin identifying negative thought patterns, themes, and triggers. After seeing your thoughts on the page, look for the influences of comparison and unrealistic expectations. At this point, ask yourself whether there is any truth behind the source of guilt. Once you’ve identified the answer, flip it to the positive. Here’s an example illustrating the technique.

After my daughter was born, I struggled with the decision to continue the pursuit of nursing. It felt selfish and caused intensely negative feelings which clouded all my thoughts and significantly impacted my joy. I fixated on the amount of time I was away from my daughter as a negative and refused to acknowledge any possible benefits.

The truth of the situation is that although I was required to spend time away from her, I was also pursing a meaningful career. It’s simply not realistic to think that you can spend every waking moment from now through eternity with your child. Role modeling the importance of pursuing goals, making a contribution to society, and the value of an income are incredibly important. In this situation, focusing on the meaning of what I was doing eventually helped me overcome the vague mom guilt which tried to creep in.

You might also enjoy reading Find Your Why.

I love journaling because it’s an individualized activity. It’s time for you to work through the core of whatever is triggering mom guilt for you. Keep in mind that mom guilt triggers are incredibly variable from mom to mom. An incredibly strong trigger for one mom might not even phase another. This is because moms and families in general are unique. This brings us to the next solution.

Mom Guilt Solution #3: Do You

No one else in this world has had the experiences you’ve had. There isn’t a mom on this earth who has the child(ren) you do. Is it then realistic to think that what works for one mom is reasonable or acceptable for you?

There are obviously many common themes to parenting and the ability to check in with other moms who have had similar experiences. But at the end of the day, you have the ability to take in the information and make the best possible decision given what’s in front of you. What works for one mom may not work for you.

Let go of comparison. Stop the social media scrolling. Remember all those unique things which make you and your family special. Revel in those. Don’t worry about what anyone else is doing. Make the best possible decisions you can make and don’t worry about the rest. Always look for ways to be better but give yourself grace in the process. Know that you are doing your best and simply let go of the rest!

Goodbye Mom Guilt!

As long as there have been moms, mom guilt has been a very real thing. We have been given a huge gift in our children but this comes with responsibility. It’s not something to be taken lightly. But we must also remember to enjoy the gift. Laugh, love, and find the joy. Stop fixating on the negatives. Although all moms experience some degree of mom guilt, it is possible to not only overcome it, but turn it into something useful. Besides journaling and becoming mindful of your thoughts, here are a few more actionable tips in transforming your thinking.

  • Find other moms you can relate to. It’s really important to have support in your journey. Parenting is so hard! Chances are, there are moms out there who are just like you who can provide encouragement, laughter, and boost your mood.
  • Find a counselor you feel comfortable talking with. Counseling is incredibly helpful because it provides an outside perspective on your inner world. Sometimes we get too tied up in our own thinking and are unable to see the other side. Family and friends often have their own perspectives and expectations of you. They generally mean well but are therefore unable to provide unbiased opinions on your inner world. A counselor can help you sort through your mom guilt in ways other people can’t. If you are struggling with anxiety and depression rooted in mom guilt, please reach out to someone. You don’t have to struggle alone!
  • Journal about your feelings on a regular basis. It’s important to get your negative feelings out but it’s equally helpful to look for what’s going well. Where are the areas you are excelling? What are you proud of? Where are you growing? Keep these positive thoughts at the forefront so you have a bank to draw from when your thoughts trend toward the negative.
  • Take time to pursue activities which are meaningful for you. If you’re not sure what that is, try something new. Sign up for a class. Read a book. Get into a Facebook group about a topic which interests you. Life is about getting out there and trying new things. Becoming a mom doesn’t take away your right to continue growing as a woman!
  • Stop the mindless social media scrolling! Social media can add value to your life but only if you’re mindful about how you’re using it and the impact it has on your outlook.

If you’re looking for even more advice on how to overcome negativities in your mindset and outlook, check out this book. It’s full of motivation and inspiration encouraging you to overcome whatever is holding you back! There simply aren’t enough words to describe the impact this book had on my own life and my ability to re-frame mom guilt. It’s a life changer!

I hope you’ve found this post helpful on your journey toward leaving mom guilt in the past. The truth is that all moms struggle with guilt at certain points but what matters is what you do with the struggle. You can let it overwhelm you or you can reach out and get help. There are ways to turn it around but you have to make the choice.

I’d love to hear about your experience with mom guilt! Do you have helpful tips and tricks on reversing the negativity? Comment below with your thoughts on this post. Now go out there and be the awesome woman and mom I know you are!

Identify Your Strengths to Improve Your Impact

Identify Your Strengths to Improve Your Impact

Wisconsin roads in the winter are a nightmare. Snow-covered ice means finding yourself spinning your wheels without going anywhere. Life can be exactly the same way. There are so many directions to take but which will make the greatest impact? Clarifying your direction starts with the ability to identify your strengths.

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“If you spend your life trying to be good at everything, you will never be great at anything.” – Tom Rath, author of Strengths Finder 2.0

Gain Clarity to Identify Your Strengths

The act of gaining clarity on ourselves is tough. This can be especially true when trying to identify your strengths. Maybe you feel constant conflict within yourself. You have a vague sense of your natural strengths but also feel misaligned. It’s almost as if lacking clear definition causes unspoken imbalances elsewhere in your life. You wonder why you feel like a square peg in a round hole.

It may seem counterintuitive but you simply can’t solely rely upon yourself to provide feedback. You need outside input to provide a more clear picture of yourself.

Ideally, this feedback comes from a trusted source; someone who has your best interests at heart. Someone who is insightful and motivating. The type of person who has a thorough understanding of the various types of strengths and their applications. Although you may be lucky enough to have such a person in your life, many people do not.

If you are one of the lucky ones, cherish this relationship. Chances are, you have both seen benefits from insight provided by the other. Use the StrengthsFinder 2.0 as a tool to help each other identify your strengths. Motivate each other to actually apply the information in your lives.

Building Upon Strength vs. Overcoming Weakness

Growing up in America, I have always been conditioned to believe that anyone is capable of accomplishing anything. All you need to do is put in the work and you will see the reward. There are countless movies and books highlighting the heroine whose only desire is to accomplish that one huge goal.

The heroine is the underdog who no one expects to win and must overcome almost insurmountable odds to accomplish her goal. In many cases, the heroine spends her time overcoming some type of weakness. The significant disadvantage interferes with her ability to earn the degree, win the match, or land that leading role.

But what if all this effort toward overcoming a weakness is a waste of energy? Wouldn’t it make more sense to start with an area of strength rather than attempting to overcome weakness?

Let’s Look at a Case Study

Take Elle Woods from the movie Legally Blonde. Throughout the movie, Elle’s passion for all things fashion and lifestyle is evident and she initially enrolls in a fashion merchandising program.

Unfortunately, her boyfriend dumps her and heads off to study law at Harvard.

Determined to win him back, she puts in an incredible amount of time, effort, and energy to earn a spot in the same Harvard program.

She flips her life upside down to pursue the ultimate goal of winning her boyfriend back. Elle does this while pursuing a degree polar opposite to the one she had initially enrolled in.

Elle successfully graduates from the program and realizes that her ex-boyfriend was actually a selfish jerk the whole time. Despite the ending, I have always been left wondering whether she truly was happy in her decision to become a lawyer.

I know what you’re thinking. The movie is typically known as a light-hearted comedy. Is there really a bigger message to take away from it? But hang with me for just a minute.

Although a degree in law is a distinguished and often lucrative career, is there a tiny part inside of her which wonders whether she made the best choice? Would she have been happier pursuing a degree more in line with her strengths and interests? Or whether she could have attained even greater heights?

Fashion was the crossroads of talent and passion for Elle. She put forth incredible effort to overcome her weaknesses in the pursuit of law. Just imagine how a career in fashion, an area of strength, could have blossomed! Imagine the impact you could have if you clearly identify your strengths!

Put a Name to the Strength

Prior to discovering the Strengths Finder 2.0, I had never taken the time to name my own strengths. I chased after various pursuits with only a vague sense of my strengths.

Chasing after anything and everything means you say “yes.” All the time. Lacking clear direction significantly contributes to anxiety and fear of missing out. After all, what if I say “no” to that one thing which could be the game changer? The result is feeling pulled in a million different directions without significant impact.

Have you ever stopped to think about what it takes to be truly great at something? Not just mediocre or moderately acceptable but absolutely outstanding in one particular area? Think Olympic athlete. Your favorite author. Rob Thomas (we can agree to disagree if he’s not your fav …).

The most talented people in the world are generally only known for one thing. It’s not typical for someone to be known as both an enthralling musician AND a captivating author.

Greatness requires hours upon hours of intense focus and a desire for growth. Depending upon the goal, tough decisions, sacrifices, and saying “no” to anything not in line with the ultimate goal are also required. As is correct identification of one’s initial talents and skills.

Using StrengthsFinder 2.0 to Identify Your Strengths

The need to correctly identify your strengths to improve your impact is clear. You may, however, be wondering how the StrengthsFinder 2.0 can help. This book contains a link for an online quiz which reveals your individualized strengths. Following the quiz, refer back to the book for insight on how to incorporate your strengths to increase your impact.

My personal experience with StrengthsFinder 2.0 began with a podcast. I was immediately intrigued and knew this had the potential to improve my impact and provide clarity to my direction.

After taking the assessment, I was shocked! The results put words to what I had always vaguely known about myself. I would compare the feeling to the satisfaction of finding a missing piece of a puzzle. You know it’s there. It’s distinctive shape fools you into thinking it will be an easy one to find. Hiding amidst the jungle of other pieces it just continues eluding you. You have almost convinced yourself that it’s missing; gone forever. Suddenly, you spot the piece and with satisfaction, tap it into place.

Take this opportunity to put another piece of your own puzzle into place.

If you’re not yet convinced about the need to identify your strengths, consider this. Think back to when you first learned to write. Most of us are naturally drawn to write with either the left or right hand. If you spent your time in line with your natural tendency, your attention could then shift to learning how to write letters. Eventually you can focus on the improvement of your handwriting. If, however, you spent your time fighting your natural instinct to be left-handed and attempted to switch to the right, all your time and energy would be spent forcing your hand to accept the role thrust upon it. It would take much more time and effort to get to the point of improving your handwriting.

It’s Time to Take Action

Unless you have taken time to shed light upon your strengths and weaknesses, you will have a vague sense of where you are naturally drawn. But in my experience, vague is completely useless. Vague gets us nowhere.

Be the heroine of your own life. Start with your strengths. Stop trying to overcome weakness. Think about how much farther ahead you will be simply by starting with areas in which you already excel. Stop being the square peg in the round hole.

Take this opportunity to learn more about who you are and what makes you amazing! Check out this post for inspiration on making decisions and this post for my best advice on how to stop caring what everyone else thinks. I truly hope that you find the StrengthsFinder 2.0 as life-changing as I did and would love to hear all about it in the comments below!