Courage for career women blog

with Vanessa May

Why women fail to experience true career success

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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 dilemmas like …

  • It feels like something is blocking my progress and I want to figure out what that is. 
  • I’ve invested so heavily in my career that it has become overwhelming. 
  • I’m struggling to keep up with the demands.
  • Other parts of my life feel neglected, and I feel guilty about that.
  • My work feels unfulfilling but I can’t figure out what else to do.

 It’s not that they haven’t questioned themselves, they have! But they’re stuck analysing the same repetitive thoughts.

The thing that they haven’t defined clearly for themselves is what their career means to them.  This lack of definition makes it hard for them to realise success.  They keep striving but are not sure what the destination is.  Even if they do reach it, they question whether it was the outcome they chose for themselves or someone else did.

What does career mean to you?  

Is it an exchange or transaction?  Do you measure your success by your ability to pay your bills and live well? 

Or is it something different?  A creative expression, meaning, service or significance?  Is it a feeling of purposefulness and usefulness – that your energy and expression is needed and valued in the world?

Neither definition is right nor wrong.  What’s important is being clear about your definition.

I say this because when clients come to me at the fork in the road in their work, they’re turning over all sorts of possibilities in their minds.  Should I do X or Y?  But when they ask themselves the question ‘what does it all mean for me?’, they start to explore what human needs work meets for them – be that security, belonging, significance or something else.  

Once clarity reveals itself, they have a way of discerning. They can decide what and why they will choose a particular way forward.  It also gives them their own terms for measuring their success and that releases them from the cultural definitions that have previously shaped their thinking and striving.

Sometimes we find ourselves on automatic pilot in our careers. The expectation being that there should be a straight climb upwards.  If you’re feeling stuck questioning aspects of your career, try asking yourself these 2 questions:

  1. What does my career / work truly mean to me?
  2. What need is that meeting in me?

Once you’re clear you can then start the dreaming process and start to reflect on what success might look like considering your previous answers.

If you need further help exploring what your career path means to you, I offer a complimentary virtual strategy session which you can book here.