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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.”

Perfect.

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.

Resolutions: Where Do You Want To Be?

I think we’ve got this whole resolutions thing backwards. When we think of the classic New Years resolutions, like “lose weight, spend less time on Facebook, drink less”, it’s more to do with NOT doing things, than actively adding things you want.

transition coaching

Positive Psychology in a Nutshell, By Lego

And eating less, drinking less…that’s not fun. Sure, maybe it’s what needs to get done, but the emphasis is on avoidance, not abundance. If you’re interested in setting up a SMARTer goal, see my blog on the topic. This will help you focus on the end you want, not the pain of getting there.

There’s an exercise I love doing with coaching clients that is particularly powerful at the resolution time of year: a GAP analysis. You look at where are you and where you want to be.

A good framework for setting up the GAP analysis is the Wheel of Life (apologies for all the coach jargon). The wheel simplifies areas of life into clear categories.

Transition Coaching - Wheel of Life

Whole Life Model

If you’re interested in taking a quick self assessment, you can do so here.

New Years is a fantastic time to take a look at where you are within these categories, and think about where you want to be — in a year, five, ten, even 20 or 30 years down the road. Dream, and dream big!

So you have a column for where you are, and where you want to be (as many columns as you like for as long term as you want to dream). Then fill in the “GAP” with the the steps you need to take to get there.

For example, when I was in my 30s, I really wanted to have a child. In the GAP, I wanted to find a partner. As I grew older, and the partner wasn’t appearing (and my time horizon as well as biological ability to have children was shrinking), I looked into alternative solutions: next thing I knew, I was reading Knock Yourself Up and joining Single Mothers By Choice. Could I have that child without a partner? As it turned out: YES!

The goal stayed the same, but the strategy changed, so I gave myself more avenues toward reaching the goal that were not dependent on another person arriving in my life.

Not only is the Wheel of Life / GAP analysis a fantastic exercise for the resolutions time of year; it’s the gift that keeps giving. Keep a hold of it, and check back in year after year to watch how your goals and achievements stay linear — or not.

Today, you may be a woman who wants to find a partner, have a child and be outta this stifling corporation. In five years you may have a partner, a couple of kids and running a successful company. As JP Morgan said (according to the Internet), “The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are.”