I’m sure that by now, you have read more than one article about the habits of successful business men. How about the habits of a successful woman? Do they differ? I think that they do. We are a bit more in touch with our bodies and in touch with our feelings, and experience things differently, and because of our upbringing, we might have been taught to put everything else and everyone elses’ needs ahead of our own. It’s going to take years of de-conditioning to get some of us to see our full value and see that we that without us taking care of yourselves, our lives do not work.
From us talking with many successful business women over the years, we’ve boiled down the most outstanding habits, that seem to be the same for every successful business woman, across the board. Let’s start with the most important point:
Remember the words of Aibileen Clark in The Help, played by the most talented Viola Davis:
“You is kind, you is smart, you is important!”
Alright, now we can begin:
Maintain a clear vision of success. Think of what you want to accomplish, and keep that as your inner path. If it helps, create a mood board on an empty wall in your office and place your goals on it. Want to start your own business? What is the name and purpose? Have it? Good! Now write it down and put it on your wall. Want to get that promotion that comes with the corner office & company car? Good! Put that on your wall!
Break down your goals into small (minuscule) tasks that you can work on every day. By the end of the week, you have already made large strides towards achieving your goal. Anything can be achievable. We can achieve anything we set our minds to. You can do anything you set your mind to. You can do it! Whatever it is, you can do it. Just think of what we have done as humans: from the first human that started a fire to going to the Moon and sending probes towards the furthest reaches of our Solar System, we can do ANYTHING we set our minds to do.
The only thing to keep in mind is that all those things (except for the first fire 😉 ) needed prep and a lot of work, so don’t give up at the first hurdle. Make a plan, and stick with it! In order for our astronauts to make it to the Moon, they had to get a lot of training. Years of training and schooling. In order for the vehicle to make it to the Moon, our scientists had to figure out how to put humans into space, and how to make the spaceship move, and not lastly how to keep humans alive for the journey (and I am grossly under-simplifying the work that went into getting our astronauts to the Moon and back, but you get the point. A big task is comprised of smaller tasks, and the smaller tasks are made up of even smaller tasks and to-dos.
Try to break down your big goal into tasks, and then break those down to their smallest tasks and to-dos. Once you know all that needs to be done, you can set a DEADLINE. Good job! This is the scariest thing that you’ll do on this project! Knowing what needs to be done is how you start. If this steps terrifies you, try to do this planning with a friend. She will be your “cheerleader” & won’t let you doubt yourself. If you don’t have a friend like that, look in the mirror: you should be that friend for yourself. And as a side note, if you don’t have that kind of friend, time for new ones.
To help you plan, use Asana or Wunderlist. They’re free and they’re both great. I use them both for different clients/projects. For me personally, I prefer Asana. I can share a project with a client, or bring in a contractor to collaborate on a project and not have to share with them the entirety of my Dashboard. I can assign tasks with deadlines, we can have discussions on each project or task. We can upload images and docs to each and discuss them. Wunderlist does about the same thing. The commenting feature is a bit more cumbersome though, but it is definitely much simpler. So if you want to start somewhere and start now, start with Wunderlist. IF you have a bit of time to build your project, then do straight to Asana.
This is a big one! Most of the time, in our busy lives, we put everything and everyone ahead of us. But here’s the problem with that: if you’re always last, and your needs are not taken care of (at home or at the office), you’ll experience burnout! Burnout is a real psychological term, and Europeans have been getting more sick days to deal with burnout with each passing year.
If you don’t know what burnout is: In 1974 the German-American psychologist Herbert Freudenberger described and defined burnout as “physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress.”
Make yourself a priority
A few ways to do that: get a massage now and then. Listen to your feelings and when you feel something is off, investigate what makes you uncomfortable. Is it because you’re not comfortable with what it reveals about you, or is it because it is offensive or feels wrong to you? Look above at the Planning, and make sure that you include some PERSONAL goals in there, like taking a yoga class once a week, getting a massage once a month, a good run after work, or a sunrise walk, and definitely schedule time for girlfriends. We, women, need our community, our circle. In prehistory, we used to sit around the camp fire and learn from each other at the end of the day. It is ingrained into our psychological make-up for us to discuss our issues. So either get together with your girls or call in your therapist or life coach and talk (and process) through what’s bothering you. Listen to your body and your intuition. You’ll know exactly what to do. If this is a tough thing to think through, try meditation. It will allow your mind to clear and the answers will present themselves.
A good exercise routine does wonders to your self-esteem. Whatever you do: yoga, rock climbing, CrossFit, triathlons, walking in the park with your dog, or snowboarding, do what you love, and do it regularly. Also, sex is a great way to stay energized and lubricate those joints 😉
CrossFit’s 3 days on 1 day off routine is actually a great idea. Your body needs to recover after intense workouts. Work out and then recover, like you do after a good yoga class. Your body heals and changes as you let it rest in shavasana.
Try to incorporate some weight lifting into your routine, as it strengthens bones and helps muscle growth which in turn burns more fat. And no, you’ll not look like Arnold Schwarzenegger after that. That kind of muscle definition takes years of training and lots of enhancements.
Your body is a temple and the better you take care of it now, the longer and healthier you will be. Try giving up those cigarettes already. It’s time.
My advice is, over and over: listen to your body. If you’re hungry: eat. If you’re thirsty: drink. For me, a smoothie feels great after my workout. I love my Vitamix, and since I’ve started using it, I get more of the things that I need, raw vegetables and fruits, packed full of nutrients that I don’t get from cooked meals.
A lot of nutrition books and diet books will tell you to eat breakfast. Some will not. But all of them will tell you what to eat. My opinion is that what’s worked for one person might not work for you. Find what works for you. Keep a diary to see how you react after each food you eat. But the cleaner you eat, the better you will feel. Also, don’t give into peer pressure and eat what people at the table want to eat. Eat what feels right to you.
This is a big one for some of us with shoe addictions or watch addictions. It is ok to live a little in your 20s, and to splurge on a big thing on your 30s, but if you can’t make your car payment, then you really need to dive deep and see what’s really important to you. Money is energy and it will go towards what is most important to you. If you value your independence and appreciate your home and car, then you might need to use some budgeting tools to stay on track with your goals. There are many budgeting apps that will let you keep track of every little card purchase you make, some more advance than others. If you don’t have one, get one.
If you’re at the other end, and you have saved up to start investing, then get yourself informed on what you want to invest in. Take a class on investing, read a book, talk with a financial advisor. Some will take on clients with a minimum investment fund of $5,000. Educate yourself on the companies that your financial advisor is suggesting you invest in. The time to plan for your retirement is now. Not last week, not next month. A little bit a time is all it takes, so start today.
Getting to meetings on time, and delivering projects on time (or early) is a skill that can be learned. We are not born with a time clock ticking in the backs of our minds. Time management takes discipline. Your boss/clients look at your discipline, and believe me, when you’re hiring people, you’ll look at discipline as well. And I’ve mentioned above, make sure that you schedule time for yourself in your daily/weekly calendar.
Yes, social networking, but not just.
Social Networking is lot easier now with LinkedIn and Twitter. You can reach the people behind the brands, and talk directly with them. When did we ever have that chance before? Build your online presence with care, and be aware of the fact that everything you do online, stays online. The internet is the opposite of Vegas (or the idea of Vegas, anyway)!. What you do online, STAYS ONLINE FOREVER! Even if you delete it from your feed, take it off the internet, it will still forever live on a server at the other end of the world. Forever! So be mindful of what you say and post. It will be part of your online identity, so build your online persona, like you’d build your wardrobe for the job interview of your life, with care.
Somewhere over the rainbow all your dreams have already come true. Start going into that direction and never look back (or sideways). It is terrifying looking around and seeing the large talent that’s available out there. You have your own journey, you have your own path and your own voice. Tune your voice. Focus on you and what you have to offer. Believe me, you are different and unique, so keep at it!
You voice matters, your opinions matters. If you lost that promotion or hell, lost that job, there will be another one. IF you cannot find a job that fills you with joy, you might want to think about starting your own company, tapping into that idea that you’ve been thinking about (but never had the courage to talk or do anything about) for a while.
If you think that it will help, find a little mantra to motivate you. If you don’t have one, go to Pinterest and find your inspirational mantra for today.
At the end of the day I like to either take a class (at Coursera, or edX (an MIT platform), or Stanford Online, etc) and improve my brain and my business expertise with an eBook from Hubspot or Unbounce, or a Podcast.
These above mentioned online learning platforms used to be free, and I mean free. Now they’re sorta free. You can still take the class free, but if you want to get the certificate, it’s gonna cost ya! It isn’t near as much as a college course, but you’ll end up paying $49-$79 per certification/course. Coursera now offers Specializations, with a group of 4-8 courses each, culminating with a capstone project.
Taking a class, or better yet, a specialization, might help your career a lot more than you can imagine. It might show your boss that you are ready for more responsibility. Or it might show you what your interest are. If you take a class that you think you should take, but you find yourself with no interest in finishing it, this might not be the field for you. Now you know what you DON’T like! If you decide that some of what you’re learning in these classes is something you’d like to pursue in a degree format, go for it. Some companies might help pay for those courses. If you’re self employed, you might be able to take a tax deduction on some of that*.
Go do it!
Actions are more important than Intentions! Focus on actions, not words. Wanting to do something doesn’t equate doing it! Go DO! You got the job, or you’ve started your new company. Now GO DO IT! There is NO substitute for actual work done. It might look overwhelming, but use the planning tool above: look at your goal, and break it down into the smallest steps possible, and take one step at a time. The saying “Rome wasn’t built in a day” comes to mind. Nothing major was built in a day! Go do it, one little (manageable) step at the time.
That’s it for now. We suggest you come back to this article every week or so, to see how much progress you’ve made in pursuing your goals. We’re here to provide you with motivation and examples of successful women that are living their lives in abundance and success.
If you’d like to write for us, submit your article to our editorial staff here: editor[at]thebusinessmagazineforwomen.com
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