Courage for career women blog

with Vanessa May

Work and live well, whole and with courage.

One of the most enchanting and mysterious gardens in Morocco created over 40 years by Yves St Laurent and Pierre Berge

A year of reflection, rediscovery and brave beginnings

Vanessa May · Courage Unfolding - A Year Of Reflection, Rediscovery And Brave Beginnings   This time last year I was preparing to launch my book. I was excited, nervous, and anxious. I wasn’t new to writing having in the past blogged for Psychologies Life Labs, Huffington Post and Tiny...
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Rise above: a guide to empowerment for career women.

In the bustling realm of a career woman’s life, my journey has been a tapestry woven with threads of growth, resilience, and the empowering shift from fawning to self-advocacy.  Like many others, I too grappled with the inclination to prioritise everyone else’s needs over my own – a habit that...
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The Exhaustion Trap: Overcome the habit that keeps you slogging it out.

What drives your exhaustion? It's a relentless cycle. You push and slog it out to keep up or get ahead. You can't switch off because there's always something else to focus on and achieve. You juggle work and home, and your boundaries blur with hybrid working. You enjoy the flexibility...
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How to stand up for yourself when the jokes are at your expense

I’ve been reflecting on situations that bring out my passivity. One of those is humour that isn’t funny. You know the moments; they’re point-scoring conversations full of quips and innuendos at your expense. They’re conversations that have a derogatory tone where someone is puffing their ego up by putting you...
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How to create your own support team

Sometimes in life, we experience hard things. Sometimes when it hurts the tendency is to react by armouring up, being tough and going it alone. After all, you absolutely know that you can rely on yourself – but can you?   Being fiercely independent and stoic can also mean that you’re...
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How to clear the noise when you’re overwhelmed

I woke up this morning feeling anxious. My brain has too many tabs open. It was full of things that were on my list that needed attention. Each one felt massively important and urgent. I am at capacity this week with work, and I notice how my week started with...
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How to tune back into your intuition when you’ve tapped out

Does having power or no power change your behaviour?   It happened to me last week. I was in the middle of a work gig and something weird was going on. Something felt off. If I use metaphor to describe it, it was like the moment before a thunderstorm. Something...
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Why women fail to experience true career success

I often hear experiences of women working harder, earning less, staying in unhealthy work environments and juggling everything whilst putting themselves last.  These women share their stories of struggle, pushing hard and frustration.  They feel like they take one step forward and two steps back. They come to coaching with...
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Why it’s actually OK to be selfish

One common thread among the women I work with is this notion of having to hurry everything.  They wake up with a list in their heads, then jump onto the wheel of juggling work and life and the many roles that come with it.   They’re so busy – but it’s...
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How to stop apologising and own your authority

Live Courageously is a book for women who conform to people pleasing, procrastinating, burning out, self-doubt and imposter syndrome but know they’re built for more.  The book draws on my own experience and those of women I’ve coached. Women like me who have surrendered to playing small, holding back, keeping...
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How to stop people pleasing and claim your courage

People pleasing has been an old protective habit of mine. For much of my life, I focused my attention on others’ needs – trying to do my best to accommodate, help or satisfy them. I became very good at this behaviour, but I also started to notice I was developing...
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3 simple steps to rediscover happiness at work

You’re not sleeping well. You used to work out and meditate but don’t feel motivated. Your main concern is your work performance, but you get distracted easily and working from home isn’t helping with your motivation. You feel stuck, bored, and less competent, and you want to feel happier without...
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Why you should break your own rules

One of my favourite phrases is that your first marriage is with yourself. I love it because it reminds me that my first and foremost job is to get into right relationship with myself. Sounds easy? I can tell you it’s been a lifelong challenge. There have been many times...
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How to move through negative emotions

One of the common things I see in coaching is clients arriving in a tough spot. They share the story of what’s going on and how stuck they feel. They want to know the way out and when this feeling will pass. It’s such a human place. Who wants to...
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How to embrace being a highly sensitive person

“You’re too sensitive.” “You need to grow a tougher skin.” “You’re made of sterner stuff than this.” Sound familiar? These phrases have been a part of my life experience and I genuinely thought something was wrong with me that I felt everything so deeply.   So what were some of the...
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How to get rid of expectations

The dictionary defines an expectation as “a strong belief that something will happen or be the case.” It is then followed by the statement, “reality has not lived up to expectations.” Herein is the conundrum: how do you have a strong belief that something will happen without being so attached...
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Why your future won’t be found in the past

I noticed that over the past year I could find my heart and thoughts being drawn back to the past. Sounds, sights and smells would take me back to a remembering of life before my divorce, of a time when my income felt secure in employment, and I took my...
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10 affirmations to help recovering perfectionists

Sometimes we are unkind in the way we talk to ourselves. We hold up high ideals and expectations and when we struggle or fail to meet them, we can give ourselves an incredibly hard time whilst pretending to the outside world we’re fine. We wear a fixed smile that belies...
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How your relationship to support impacts your progress

Over ten years ago I was in California on a leadership retreat. It was an experiential leadership training with the Coaches Training Institute and whilst I had done their coach training, I hadn’t fully understood the impact of learning in this way. I was used to academic learning. The pursuit...
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Approach your New Year’s resolution with acceptance and challenge

January is the season that many humans set goals for themselves. Perhaps you’ve set a work goal to get the promotion you want or find more purpose and meaning. Or maybe there’s a desire to be healthier and fitter or bring more mindfulness and compassion into your life. Whatever your...
Sunlit trees covered in snow. With text over that says 'How to set up lasting intentions for the New Year.

How to set up lasting intentions for the New Year

Do you recognise this cycle? It’s New Year’s Eve and you’re full of excitement for the possibility of a new year. You imagine all the dreams and possibilities. Fuelled by the happy hormones of excitement you define your new year’s resolutions. This year will be different. You’re determined to make...
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Can’t think clearly? Here’s 3 simple ways to create space in your mind

One reason clients hire coaches is because they’ve got a lot going on, they feel overwhelmed and notice they’re stuck and procrastinating, churning over the same thoughts in their minds. It’s part of our shared human experience to land in these tight spots where the pressure feels huge and we...
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A simple strategy to deal with self blame and sabotage

Up until this year I’ve never really understood the phrase when life throws you lemons make lemonade. How do you make something sweet when it is naturally sour? Is it about appreciating and accepting the sour moments? This year has thrown me many challenges that have taken me way over...
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How to get out of overwhelm

Overwhelmed by everyday things Kate is a character from the first chapter in the book I am writing.  She comes to coaching complaining of working long days and feeling emotionally drained.  In her mid-forties, she is at an age where her hormones are wreaking havoc on her and are impacting...
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Dare to let your inner critic out for the day.

Imagine you gave your inner critic full permission to say whatever the hell it wanted to during your day... You drop something, “ooh you stupid shit” You say something in a meeting, and a few people snigger, “ha, see what you’ve done now.  You’ve really shown yourself up. They think...
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Track your simple moments of everyday courage

I woke up this morning with a simple and clear message for myself. Stop asking “how can I help?” Start asking “what do you need?” I have been around this loop many times and I’ve nailed it with clients and colleagues but with my daughters it still can be hard. ...
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Make your second lockdown easier

Vanessa May · Make Your Second Lockdown Easier   We got through the first lockdown with cheers for the NHS and the knowledge that summer was on its way.  But now we’re heading for winter, days are darker and there’s the awareness that a clear end in sight is unlikely...
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Supercharge your gifts

Vanessa May · Supercharge Your Gifts   Discovering core truths, aliveness and authenticity really matters to me. I believe we humans have a short earth walk and sometimes our conditioning has us hold back expressing our gifts.  Bronnie Ware in her book, The Regrets of The Dying identified the number...
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How on earth do you just be you?

Vanessa May · How On Earth Do You Just Be You?   "Just be you" Yesterday, I was reading an interview with actress Sofie Gråbøl about what she’s learnt. The article ended with the following comment: “I hate it when people say, “Just be you”, it is the worst advice...
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What to do instead of comparing yourself to others

Vanessa May · What To Do Instead Of Comparing Yourself To Others “Comparison is the thief of joy” Many of us have heard Theodore Roosevelt’s quote “comparison is the thief of joy.” But in a land where we are surrounded by perfected images, fear-based narratives and push based marketing strategies...