Doing the Girl Thing

I have two impressive clients, one a lawyer and one a doctor. They are highly accomplished in their fields.

On the same day, each separately asked me the same question at one point during the session:

“Am I doing the girl thing?”

And I knew exactly what they meant. But, being a coach, my job is to ask more than answer and so I asked what they meant. Here’s what they said, more or less:

“You know, that thing where I have an idea, then totally kill it, or think that what I’m offering isn’t good enough, even though it’s more than enough. Or when I have success in something after working hard, then put myself down. You know, the girl thing.”

I do know. The girl thing.

In fact, yesterday I was sharing this very story with a friend. She just received a big promotion at work, and closed a new deal faster than any one ever has in the history of the 30-year company.

Then, she explained away her success as luck, not really a big deal, a long time coming, etc. As soon as she did it she realized, “Oh my god! I just did the girl thing!”

Yup. So I asked her what she could say instead. She came up with:

“Thank you! It’s a great client — I’m excited to start working with them.”


But the unspoken “girl thing” that too many of us understand is no longer working for me. And, as the mother of a daughter, it’s really not working for me. I want the same opportunities and possibilities for all my children, no matter the gender. Not 79 cents on the dollar for my “less valuable” daughter. I don’t want to see the world teach limitations into her core, as it has for me and my clients.

I want my 2-year-old daughter, who is pretty badass already, to not recognize “doing the girl thing” as what my doctor, lawyer, and business friend and I recognize too easily. Putting yourself down. Making excuses for your success. Apologizing for your creative ideas. Hearing yourself “you can’t” before you say “I can”.

Let’s redefine what “doing the girl thing” means. What if doing the girl thing meant that girls:

Celebrate, like Brandi Chastain

Lead, like Golda Meir

Act, like Margaret Thatcher

Help others, like Ina May Gaskin

Are Brave, like Malala

Are Strong, like the Williams Sisters

Create Justice, like Ruth Bader Ginsberg

Do What’s Right, like Eleanor Roosevelt

Blaze A New Path, like Hillary Clinton

Are Entrepreneurial, like Martha Stewart

Guide Others, like Harriet Tubman

Stands up for Your Rights, like Susan B Anthony

Care for Animals, like Jane Goodall

Teach, like Julia Child

Manage Money, like Janet Yellen

Rock, like Joan Jett

While writing this post, I got a call from a client who set a lofty goal for herself 3 months ago. Today, the dream became reality. She called to tell me about the interview that lead to the offer, and started by saying: “I’m not going to lie, and I hope this doesn’t appear arrogant, but I did a GREAT job. I knew I had it and I did. I could tell during our conversation. I just nailed it.”

When I asked her what she did in the interview that was so special, she said, “You know what? I just said what I believed and I acted like myself. I was totally honest. And it worked!”

That’s the 2016 version of doing the girl thing. Just finding that thing you’re great at and doing it. Being honestly and authentically you.

C’mon Get Happy

The old Partridge Family song takes me back. I’m a kid again, dancing around on a shaggy blue carpet. Nursing a serious crush on David Cassidy. No responsibilities. Little to no power either, but it’s the singing and dancing that I remember. And the feeling of being happy.

Segue to today: I’ve been reading a particularly fabulous book, recommended by one of my clients, called The Sweet Spot, by Christine Carter.

It focuses on that whole overwork / work life balance thing. (You know, what I do for a living :-)). Though it may seem like well trodden terrain, she offers solutions for getting your life back, enjoying it, thriving at work and  having a short fitness routine that will get you in solid shape.

One thing I’ve started doing is using this free app called Happier. If you bob and weave through the solicitations (not that hard to do), you’re able to use it to record something every day that makes you happy. It automatically pulls up your pictures and prompts you with your own visual memories — just in case you forgot how fantastic that trip to the garden with your daughter was.

Minimal investment, maximum happy.

Minimal investment, maximal bliss.

I like doing this daily; it’s a quick passage to emotion (like the kind I get when I look at the old David Cassidy pictures), which encourages the building of neural pathways of joy. It reminds me to sit in that moment – an take a deep tub soak of positive emotion. There’s ample research to demonstrate the impact of regular positive thinking, gratitude and connecting with emotions.

Plus, after a few weeks, I have this incredible flip book of happy moments – the moments that seem inconsequential at the time, but are the tapestry of your life. So record your happy once a day, or once in the morning and once at night. However you choose to remember your happy, the benefits are clear.

As a wise man once said, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” And when you stop to capture those seemingly insignificant, powerful and joyful moments, you’ll be able to marvel at your own incredible life.

Deadbeat Moms & Ex-tortion

Growing up in the 80’s, I knew lots of kids from divorced families. They lived with mom, their dads remarried or lived somewhere else or both. Dads were tan. They were usually coming back from skiing in Aspen or sailing in the Caribbean.

None of my friends lived with their dads. If there was a divorce, mom ended up with the kids. Period.

And here we are in 2016. There’s a new divorce normal, and it isn’t shared parenting, it’s deadbeat moms. More than half the divorced families I know today were the result of moms walking out — not because they were abused, neglected, or mistreated in any way. They just wanted a different life. They wanted to pursue their art, or their modeling, or just have the experience of living on their own.

They left their children with their soon to be ex-husbands and just walked out. Call it the new feminism, where feminism has been misinterpreted to mean “I can do whatever the hell I damn well please.”

Divorce Coach

So What Did The Dads Do?

They picked up the slack. They took care of the kids. They parented.

And when it came time for those men to face their soon to be ex-wives in court, it was as if there was a time warp in the courtroom: It was still the 80’s. The judges had a hard time believing that the children lived with the father, that the father still lived in the family home and did the bulk of the parenting.

divorce coachDeadbeat moms were becoming the new normal, but the laws, set up at a time when women couldn’t even get their own credit cards, financially favored the lesser earner, which was typically the wife, and made sense at the time.

Today in New Jersey, here’s how the law works: If the deadbeat mom and dad share the child equally, and the mom chooses not to work, the mom is entitled child support from dad.

That’s right, folks — in a situation where the child responsibilities are split equally, the lesser earner needs to be covered by the bigger earner. And if the mom chooses not to work, even though she has a couple advanced degrees and a history of 6-figure incomes, that’s fine. Dad has to pay child support.

So, if mom is the deadbeat sort, the kind that would walk out on her children in the first place, it’s in her best interest to not work, and fleece her ex-husband.

The Law Stands By Her on This.

I am a lover of men, and a lover of women. I love people who parent their kids and enjoy their work. I believe in the dignity of work, and that people feel better about themselves when they’ve found something to do with their skills and talents.

I however, cannot continue to stand by and watch the trend of deadbeat moms extorting their ex’s just because they can. Very few people stand up on behalf of high earning men these days, but that doesn’t mean they should continue to be exploited because of outdated laws.

My evidence is personal and anecdotal, but it’s a trend I’m seeing more of and it’s very real. The courts are biased and dads are afraid: one wrong step and they might have their children taken away. Better to appease the ex than stand up for what’s right.

Divorce is painful. However, it doesn’t have to be completely unfair for the individual who is gainfully employed, just because their ex chooses not to work.

The first step to solving a problem is admitting there is one: let’s not let this issue go unnoticed; let’s not let these dads who are trying to do the right thing continue to be punished. Is this a trend you’re seeing too?

Set A Resolution that Works

I love this time of year. The week between Xmas and New Year’s Eve gives me ample time to look at the year I’ve had, review the macro, the micro and set a resolution for the year to come.

And I realize that, as a life coach, I may get unusually excited about this stuff. (I even review my client’s accomplishments and send them little lists). I also realize that not everyone else feels the same way I do about taking stock. That’s what makes a horse race.

Four years ago, on my honeymoon, I forever changed my approach to resolution-making. My husband, well, let’s just say he’s one of those horses that would prefer not to do all this soul-searching and resolution making.

Life Resolutions

You know your partner almost as well as you know yourself.

That said, he had become my husband, and we were in it for good or for bad, for this New Years and those to come. Since he was…reluctant at best to spend days looking at the year behind and the year to come, I had to find some way to make this more palatable for him.

That year, we decided to make resolutions for one another. And I know what you’re thinking…that would be a great opportunity to give your partner resolutions like “give me more backrubs”, and “do more dishes”. You’ll have to step away from that fantasy for a bit and do some real soul searching — not for yourself, but for someone else important in your life. You want to show them things they don’t see, opportunities they don’t even realize they have.

You can do this with a parent, a child, a best friend or a spouse. The point is that our closest allies have a wonderful perspective on us, often better than we have on ourselves. They may know what we need better than we do. Only a partner could come up with a resolution like, “You need to stop and acknowledge how wonderful you are more frequently.” And they will never, ever ask you to lose 15 pounds.

We started making year-end resolutions for each other at that time, and we’ve kept it up ever since. It’s fun, supportive collaborative, and if done well, it often feels like someone is giving you a gift.

I can still remember the resolution he gave me that year. We were having a hard time getting pregnant, and for my resolution, he asked me to “Believe in abundance, in all things.” I resisted, but eventually yielded to his belief in me and my future. That was my most profitable year of business, and the year I became pregnant…with twins.

We’d talk about the abundance every month of 2012, until it was clear that maybe we had more than enough.

Please let me know if you choose to try this approach, and what you come up with for each other. Oh one last tip — with resolutions, as with all things, less is more. Be sure to make no more than 3 resolutions, or else they just won’t get done. Click on these links more tips on setting SMART goals and effective resolutions.

And if you do want to lose those 15 pounds, you’ll want more than will power, you’ll need an effective plan. Here’s a great one.

All the best for a spectacular New Year!