Mindset Buster: Being a Working Mom is Selfish

Being a Working Mom is Selfish

We all have these mindsets that affect what we do, the decisions we make and the perspective that we have about our lives. Sometimes these mindsets can be positive ones that we should keep, and other times, we hold mindsets that can actually hold us back from reaching our full potential.

One very common mindset for mompreneurs is that being a working mom is selfish. Let’s take some time to break this down and see where this mindset comes from and what we should do about it.

I was talking with one client who is a great mom. She puts her kids first. She does things for her family all the time. She set priorities that she holds. She also has her own business. She realized, however, that she always felt guilty for being a working mom. That in the back of her mind she held this idea that being a working mom was selfish.

Before the days of motherhood, I lived a pretty self-focused life. I got to choose what time I’d get up in the morning. I picked what and when I wanted to eat. I selected what I wanted to do during the day and what time I wanted to go to bed. And I never really felt guilty about living like that.

Self-care after motherhood

Now we all know that once we get pregnant, something changes inside us. Something about motherhood gets hardwired into us. Suddenly, we give up so much of that self-focused life. Now everything revolves around our husband and children. We cook what the children like to eat. We nurse all night. We get up at 5 a.m. because that’s when the children are awake. We give up our needs and wants to take care of the long list of things for our family. There’s not often a whole lot left for ourselves at the end.

So when moms decide to go back to work, we often hear in our own minds that it is an act of selfishness. Stunning, isn’t it? Before motherhood, it was accepted that sometimes we do things for ourselves. Then when motherhood set in, we put everything ahead of us. Moms, in general, don’t excel at self-care. We rarely take a break, do something to take care of ourselves, or find something fun to do on the weekends.

If we decide to go back to work or to start our own business, it will make us unavailable at times. It will put something before our children at times. This will definitely happen, and it can look selfish. Even if we are earning money to pay for trips for our family or for college, we can still feed those lovely feelings of mother guilt.

“Stealing” time

When I think back to my early days of coaching, I remember feeling like I was stealing all the time. I had two little kids, and if I spent time with them, I felt like I was stealing time from my business. If I was working, then I felt like I was stealing time from my children. I stayed in that mindset of stealing; I was always stealing from some other part of my life. And I always felt guilty. My most important priorities were in conflict. When I was stuck in that stealing mindset, I was not being productive.

What happens in that mindset is that we start unwittingly sabotaging our business and our happiness. I had one client who was blaming the lack of success of her business on her husband. She felt that he had too high of expectations on what she could deliver in her business and what she could handle in housekeeping and childcare. However, as we talked about it more, she realized that she was actually the one with the unreachable expectations. It was her judging herself.

Breaking through mindset busters

She realized that her work was important. It meant a level of fulfillment for her. It gave her family a financial cushion they wanted. It was beneficial to another community. During the times she felt guilty, she would actually choose to do housework instead of higher priorities for her business for the sole purpose of earning the “good mother” badge. In the end, when she talked with her husband, he was actually very supportive. He was committed to helping support her in her business and pick up some of the household and childcare duties.

So how do you avoid this mindset? The first step is always awareness. If this article is resonating with you, then maybe you have this mindset. If you’re not aware, this unconscious mindset will motivate you to behave a certain way and make certain decisions. However, once you have awareness, you are capable of deciding if you want to continue holding the mindset or to change it. If you decide to change the mindset, you can replace it with a positive affirmation. It’s an opportunity to reconnect with your priorities and find ways to support yourself as a wife, mother, and person.

Is a negative mindset holding you back? It may be, even if you can’t identify it. If you’re stuck and need some help, let’s talk. I’d love to see if coaching is a good fit for you. Get in touch!

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Mindset Buster: Yes, You Are Smart Enough

Mindset Buster: Yes, You Are Smart Enough

As a business coach, I work with a lot of clients who hold particular mindsets that can be helpful or not so helpful in their businesses and in their lives. One of these mindsets that I see often is the “I’m not smart enough” mindset. If you’re a mompreneur who holds that mindset, it might be time to revisit that idea and think about busting up that negative notion once and for all.

Often, it’s difficult to call ourselves out on these mindsets. Many of us do not even see ourselves adopting a negative mindset at all. What I’ve found as a business coach, however, is once we start addressing some of these issues by talking about them, they become clear. And once the awareness is there, we can make decisions about what we want to do about those mindsets.

Some of you might resonate with the “I’m not smart enough” mindset. You might even hear yourself saying things like “that’s just beyond me” or “such-and-such is above my level”. Some of you others might not actually verbalize those words but instead, might have a quiet voice inside you that is whispering the same message. In fact, that voice might be so quiet, you might not even realize it’s there until you start thinking about the topic more deliberately.

Mindset example

One of my clients is a sole practitioner of a communications, marketing, and public relations firm. She’s been in the business for under two years, and she works really hard. Like many others, this mompreneur modeled her business on others she admired. She learned from colleagues and mentors before striking out on her own. After awhile, however, she started seeing her competition capturing bigger clients and more clients. She started seeing her competition being recognized within the larger industry. And she started adopting the mindset that she could not compete. She started believing that she was not smart enough to make it. Once that negativity sets in, it can be crippling to your business and to your life.

After we spent some time talking, we discovered that this practitioner really wasn’t making a fair comparison. She was comparing herself to all those whom she admired. What she failed to see was that her so-called competition was a seasoned veteran in the business with a decade of experience, employed a large team of freelancers and staff, and simply had more monetary resources than she did. She was a relative newcomer to the market, worked as a sole practitioner and had limited time and resources. She was comparing apples to oranges.

The problem with that comparison and the resulting mindset is that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you decide to believe that you’re not smart enough and that your competition is better, you will automatically begin to look for evidence to confirm that belief. You’ll literally start searching for evidence to prove that you’re right. That’s exactly what my client did. She had a long list of examples to show me that her belief that she was not smart enough was true.

Challenge your mindset

My challenge to all of you is to think about what mindsets you have about work, your business, and your life. If you have a mindset that is anything less than believing you are doing your very best and that you will achieve your goals, then you might have something to work on. Consider whether you have that little negative voice that is pointing out negative experiences or whether you see positive things, can note your achievements and see your accomplishments. Take stock and consider how your mindset affects your work, your life and yourself.

Here’s a personal example to help illustrate my point. When I was growing up, I never flew anywhere so I had a mindset that I was not one of those people who got on an airplane and went anywhere. It was likely that I’d continue with that mindset, but I had this shift when I was 21 years old that I could be one of those people who flew to places. That mindset could have held me back from doing new things, having new positive experiences, and growing in exciting ways.

I had another client who had a mindset where she thought she didn’t deserve to be happy. She acquired this mindset because of some bad decisions she had made in her life but then held fast to those ideas. That mindset was not a healthy one, and once she worked through that, she discovered she was a person who deserved to be happy.

Today, I challenge you to think about the beliefs you hold about yourself, your business, your life, even your family. Write them down. Think about whether your mindset is helping you support and achieve your goals. If they are, keeping doing what you’re doing. If they are not, decide whether you want to change, whether you’re ready to change, whether it’s time to change. If the answer is yes, then you have some pretty exciting goals to work toward in upcoming months.

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How to Handle Criticism from Yourself & Others

This time of year can feel like a lot of pressure with some year end wrap up, new products, growth and renewed goals and aspirations. Unfortunately, when you have so very much going on, it can be easy to allow yourself to become vulnerable to other people’s opinions or criticisms.

Being vulnerable can also cause you to reflect back on your short-comings and compare yourself to others and their seemingly amazing accomplishments. It can be very common to carry around negative self talk and that weight can very easily drag you down into unhealthy thoughts and patterns.

It can be internal criticism within yourself or external criticism comparing yourself to others and both are equally as dangerous and damaging. This quote is a personal favorite of mine…

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” – Teddy Roosevelt

If you spend time comparing yourself to others, you are stealing your own joy. When we feel dragged down and engage in negative self talk, it can be very easy to slip into the habit of allowing ourselves to compare ourselves to others unrealistically.

Comparisons are really always unfair not in your favor, if you are in a negative mind space, you are looking through a filter of yourself that will always make you come up short. Don’t compare your worst self to someone else’s highlight reel on Facebook or Twitter. That is a skewed perception.

In this way, there is no way that you will ever be able to make a fair, unbiased comparison. And what do you have to gain from comparison? Making yourself feel bad will certainly not help you get the enthusiasm or energy to improve and get to where you want to be in your business or life goals.

We often compare certain metrics that don’t really, genuinely matter to us. You can’t allow yourself to compare yourself to others that don’t even align with your goals. Your priorities are different than others and comparing them to yourself to them will just drain your energy and foster negativity, unnecessarily.

When you are comparing yourself to someone else, one way to redirect that energy is to realize that you are focusing on the wrong person if you are spending time comparing yourself to others. The only person worth reflecting on and comparing yourself to is yourself. You will come out ahead if you only compare yourself to yourself.

You are always in the process of becoming, changing and growing. You are a product of your decisions. Ask yourself these questions:

What are you doing today that you could not have done 2 days, 2 months or 2 years ago? What ground have you covered? It fosters such positive energy and can only prove to push you forward!

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11 Steps To Owning Your Path

Owning your path. That sounds like a great idea, right? We’re all on a path, most of them winding, some quite crooked, with a fair amount of bumps along the way. But that path is ours, so let’s dig into what it means to really own it and how we can apply that to our businesses so that we are moving forward into our future with confidence and intent.

  1. VISION. Your vision is your focus—what your eyes are fixed on. Whatever you focus on you get more of. So adjust your focus to the positive, to what you hope for, to where you want to go.
  2. WHY. Things are going to get tough. Things are going to get messy. You’re going to get confused, distracted, discouraged. Knowing why you’re doing what you’re doing ensures that your motivation and inspiration to keep moving forward is coming from within, not based on all the external circumstances that you’re facing.
  3. CULTURE. Who you are, how you’ve done things up to this point, your habits, and your mindset are critical forces in determining the path you will choose. All these things come together to make you who you are. Embrace it!
  4. POSSIBILITIES. Don’t get trapped by a “But this is how I’ve always done it” mentality. Open yourself up to the world of possibilities that awaits you when you replace old habits that aren’t serving you with a mindset that says, “This is possible.”
  5. EXPERIENCE. Experience is the skills, knowledge, and expertise that you have acquired over the course of your life. Acknowledge your strengths, the things you are best at, and determine how you may use them going forward.
  6. COMMITMENTS. This is the “owning” part of owning your path. This is where you put a stake in the ground and declare, “It will be done because it matters to me!”
  7. PRACTICE. Practice is the opposite of perfectionism. It’s the opposite of fear. It is being willing to stink at something and keep trying until we get it right. Keep practicing!
  8. SUPPORT. Support is so critical to owning your path—both giving and receiving it. Get the help you need from others and invest time and energy into others to help them on their own paths.
  9. ACTION. This is where the rubber meets the road! Baby steps are still steps. Take action and make it happen!
  10. ACCOUNTABILITY. As internal as owning your path may seem, we need external drivers to keep us on track. Accountability is a good and necessary element of success, whether it is enlisting the guidance of a coach or simply checking in with a likeminded accountability buddy.
  11. CHOICE. This is all about your choice. It’s at the heart of everything. There is freedom in realizing that no one is making you do this, that this path you’re on is your choice, and that nobody can take away the success you find along the way because nobody but you has gotten you there.

I hope these tips help inspire you to really own your path. Do you have others you would add to the list? Let me know on Facebook!

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Permission to be Successful

We’re gearing up for a month of talking about success: defining and measuring our success, feeling successful, and more. Today, though, I want to give you something really special. It’s permission to be successful.

You have permission to be successful.

So often in our lives we get buried under negative self-talk and our own doubts and fears, not to mention the negativity and doubt of those around us. Sometimes, our own predictions of failure become self-fulfilling. But not anymore!

Everyone deserves success. You deserve success.

Sometimes, we have survivors guilt: our business and life is going well, but our close friend or even partner/spouse is having trouble in certain areas of their lives. This leads us to downplay or feel undeserving of what we’ve achieved. Baloney!

You earned your success.

Don’t let comparison steal your joy! Often we hear that in the context of giving yourself a pep talk when you feel less than about what you have, but it works the other way, too. Allow yourself to feel deserving of success. You are working for it, so let yourself have it!

You have permission to be successful.

Say it to yourself “I give myself permission to be successful.”

For more about success, check out my latest podcast: “Why is it so dang hard for mompreneurs to see themselves as successful?

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How to Squelch Self-Sabotage

Two steps to squelch self-sabotage

Mom entrepreneurs know that in this crazy life we’ve made for ourselves we have to be ever ready and willing to adapt, rethink, redirect, and commit, as decisions are made, projects shift, and offerings change. We set the best goals, don’t we? But if we’re not careful, despite our best intentions, we can get stuck—in the old ways, down that familiar path—and our most common obstacle? That girl in the mirror!

Self-sabotage. We all do it. So let’s set ourselves up for success by learning how to identify it and thwart it so we can get out of our own way and continue in the direction we want for ourselves.

Be honest.

Are you setting goals that you’re really passionate about?

All too often we set goals because we think we should. We do what others want us to do. We make plans based on what the world says “success” means. Ladies, that is not powerful. And when we set goals around anything other than what matters most to us, what we want for ourselves, and what we’re really passionate about, self-sabotage is sure to follow. Give yourself permission to set goals that bring you happiness and make you feel successful.

Are the rules you’ve set for yourself to achieve your goals too rigid?

Let’s be honest. Many of us entrepreneur types have at least a little bit of rebel in us, don’t we? We see a rule and we think, “But why?” and then promptly challenge it. This goes for the rules we set for ourselves as well, especially if they are unrealistic or excessively rigid. Rules are great and help us get where we want to go, but make sure the rules you set are serving you. Rules can be an unnecessary burden or they can be meaningful stepping-stones on the path you choose for yourself. You get to decide!

Are you talking bad about/to yourself?

“You are so lazy!” “Ugh, you should know better by now.” “Again? Really? When will you learn?” Girls, would we say these things to our children? Of course not! Then we shouldn’t be speaking to ourselves in this way. Setting goals is an intention of self-love. We make plans and have hope for our future because we care about ourselves. We need to speak to ourselves accordingly. Positive, encouraging, empowering, affirming words go so much farther than negative self-talk.

Be accountable.

We’re not made to go through this life alone, and the world of business is no exception. Be willing to be honest with a friend or partner you can trust. Share where you know you might engage in self-sabotage. Open up about what you need in order to avoid it or get you back on track when you fall into old habits or patterns. And be that accountability for someone else when they need it. We’re all in this together. A little honesty and accountability go a long way on this journey to success!

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5 Things I’ve Learned Coaching Mompreneurs

A recent project has had me looking back at my years of clients (can you believe I’m a terrible record keeper?) and thinking about ways these women’s lives have changed after working with me. Now, don’t get me wrong—this is not about patting myself on the back. I can only ask the questions and get the wheels turning; each woman I work with has to come to the right conclusions for her and then take action. Sure, I help think through decisions and then add a layer of accountability, but when it comes to getting the work done? That’s for my clients to do!

As I’ve looked back, I’ve also realized some important lessons I’ve learned as I work with a variety of women in all stages of life who work in vastly different industries with different goals. That’s what I want to share with you today, so here they are:

  1. Everyone (especially mompreneurs) need to get clear about their priorities. This is EVERYTHING about success as a mom business owner. How will you know you’re “succeeding” if you don’t know what that looks like for you? (Shameless book plug: in Moms Mean Business we walk you through the process of identifying your priorities. Order it here!)
  2. Even now, most women need to let go of what success looks like for stereotypical entrepreneurs or even what the women themselves think their success should look like based on external factors. We are not twenty-somethings who are bootstrapping the next Facebook in our basement. We can’t work 60-80 hours per week fueled on Taco Bell and Red Bull. We also probably won’t have a picture-perfect Pinterest house and a perfect coif. We can’t be all the things to all the people. We define success for ourselves!
  3. After identifying priorities, we need to follow those to their most likely result and then be realistic about our expectations. If family, marriage, and business are your priorities, then sitting on other community committees and volunteering for other organizations may have to wait for another phase of life. Asking yourself: if these are my priorities, what kind of life will I have?
  4. Once we are clear about their version of success, we have to follow through with those priorities. Which is why finding out what those priorities really are is paramount to success. If you’re neglecting your business to volunteer for hours at your kids’ school, you’ll just end up resenting that time if copying worksheets is not one of your priorities. And vice versa: if your marriage is falling apart because you spend every evening working on your business, you’re going to be similarly unhappy if that marriage is one of your priorities.
  5. It is absolutely, 100% okay to ask for help. Whether it’s from coach, a friend, a mentor, a mental health professional, our family, whatever, asking for help is not weak. When you have a strong support team, you are better equipped for the many challenges of owning a business and having a family (or either of those on their own)! Asking for help does not mean you’re not cut out for the life you have or that you can’t do what you’ve set out to do. In fact, you won’t be able to do what you want without the right help. So circle the wagons and get some people around you who you can trust!
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Conditions of Satisfaction—How, When, and Why to Say No

We mompreneurs, as we’re working hard to grow and develop our businesses, can sometimes slip into a pattern of saying yes to things that really don’t serve or work for us. In fact, we may even find ourselves signing clients or accepting projects that flat-out stress, drain, or overwhelm us… which can’t be good for us or our businesses! We say yes to these things for many reasons, many based on fear: fear that we may miss out on an opportunity, fear that no one else may ever hire us again, fear that we won’t have enough money, or fear that if we don’t say yes to absolutely everything our businesses will fail to grow. Well, let me tell you, ladies—fear is no way to grow a business!

So today I want to talk about the benefits of learning how, when, and why to say no. My hope for you is that you won’t operate out of fear, but from a place of strength, power, and worth, and it’s my belief that saying no, when appropriate, is an amazing tool to help you do just that.

It’s really all about what I call “conditions of satisfaction.” These are the things that bring you fulfillment, that make or break this business for you, that work for you, and that ultimately bring you satisfaction in your business, home, and life in general. These are your non-negotiables when it comes to what makes you happy, and these are what should drive your decision to say yes or no when an opportunity comes knocking at your door.

Here are some examples of how your conditions of satisfaction can help you know when to say no:

  • If working from home so you can be with your children and not have to put them in daycare is one of your conditions of satisfaction, it will be easy to say no when a job will require you to travel or work from a remote location.
  • If working with other mom entrepreneurs is one of your conditions of satisfaction, it will be easy to say no when a job will require you to work primarily with businessmen in corporate America.
  • If doing work that is meaningful and stimulating is one of your conditions of satisfaction, it will be easy to say no when a job that bores you or conflicts with your conscience comes up.
  • If working only Monday through Friday during business hours is one of your conditions of satisfaction, it will be easy to say no when a project requires that you be available evenings or weekends.

Take time to nail down your conditions of satisfaction. They are different for everyone. There are no right or wrong answers here. But the point is: you get to choose what brings you satisfaction! You get to decide what is important to you, what you’re passionate about, and what makes you happy to be doing what you do. Those are the things by which to live your life, work your business, and help you decide when to say yes to the opportunities that move you in that direction and no to those that don’t.

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30 Day Challenge: Note Writing

Recently, I took part in a 30 day running challenge. I ran at least 1 mile every day for a full 30 days. I’d never tried, let alone completed, a challenge like this before. The idea is that the further into the challenge you get, the less likely you are to break the streak. This is a common method for helping people make or break habits—in fact, there are a slew of apps you can download that simply track whether or not you completed a single task for the day.

Using this tactic, I’d like to challenge you to do something for the next 30 days:

Write and mail a handwritten card or note to a friend or old business contact. This is NOT a sales call. In fact, I want you to NOT mention business. Not even a “let me know if there’s anything I can do to help you out!” message. These notes should strictly be: I’ve been thinking about you, how are you? No business cards, no brochures. On Sunday, write the card and get it ready to send out, then mail it with your Monday card. Or, you can write out a week’s worth and mail them each day. You cannot, however, write out 30, plop them in the mail, and call it a day. You need to touch one of the cards every day. We’re making a habit here!

Why a card? Well, personally I’ve never been great with mail. Birthday cards, thank you notes, Christmas cards… all a challenge for me to remember. I’m more of a take-you-out-to-lunch or bake-you-a-tart kind of friend. But I love to get real mail, and I love to send it, when I remember. So, let’s all take some time and write out these cards and reconnect with some old friends and colleagues.

Are you ready for the challenge? Pop over to my Facebook page and comment on the challenge post to let us know you’re participating. We’ll keep you accountable with some check-ins.

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I Dare You!

We all love a good dare, don’t we? Remember when we were kids, how those simple words, often delivered with a smirk and a twinkle in the eye—“I dare you”—were all it took to bring us to action? Well, I’d like to challenge you with a little dare today. Feel free to let it take you back to the days when you just couldn’t resist. This is one dare that I believe has the power to change the course of your business and your life. Are you ready for it?

I dare you to reach out and connect with three of your past clients or customers today in a meaningful and authentic way.

What—you thought there would be more?

Okay, admittedly there is more to this dare than initially meets the eye, because this really is a loaded challenge if you’re paying attention.

In this age of social media, we connect with so many people on a daily (or even hourly) basis. But these connections are for the most part brief, shallow, and when you’re in business for yourself, ultimately with sales in mind. So when I say “reach out and connect,” I’m not talking about “liking” a status on Facebook; I’m not talking about re-tweeting something a past customer posted on Twitter; and I’m not talking about sending a canned sales proposition via email.

I’m talking about reaching out to someone you have lost touch with in a meaningful and authentic way. This could be a handwritten letter on beautiful stationary just to let someone know you’re thinking of them, a card that you take the time to choose just especially for that person, even a heartfelt, personal email to follow up on something you saw they were up to on Facebook lately. I’m talking about fostering real relationships just for the sake of fostering real relationships. I’m talking about staying connected to the world in an authentic way just because we are humans and that’s what we’re made to do. I’m talking about putting aside the business to be about the business of life… just because. No business card. No coupon. No call to action—just because.

As entrepreneurs, so much of our lives is automated. We have systems and processes in place for nearly everything we do. And that’s great and necessary and efficient. But today is a gift I’m giving you, should you choose to accept it. Today I dare you to just be a good human. Today I dare you to rekindle that little magical spark that happens when you reach out with genuine affection and a desire to just connect with another person in this great big automated world that we share. Did you take the dare?

Leave me a comment about your experiences. We can all use a little encouragement in this business of being human!

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