Seven Things for Female Professionals to Contemplate

In 2013, females were 47% of the U.S. workforce. In management and professional femaleleadershipoccupations, we hold 51% of the positions. Yet, we hold only 14.6% of the executive positions in Fortune 500 companies.

We control 80% of household spending. By 2018, wives will out-earn husbands in the U.S. 

We’re a pretty powerful bunch.

Why is it we find it challenging to navigate our individual career paths? How do we become the captains of our careers? Accomplish what we hoped for and wanted to achieve when we graduated from college?

Here are seven things to consider:

Know who you are. Truly, what is it you want your career to be and how does that fit into your life? Own who you really are. Be authentic. Your individuality is the most important foundation for your success. Success is tangible, but not necessarily monetary.  Every truly successful person knows her unique abilities and aspirations, they are not trying to be someone else.

You should be able to ask yourself daily, am I adding value to my company, taking steps to realizing your personal goals and enjoying doing it? If you’re not, you are not thriving in your current career and are operating at a competitive disadvantage. Time to have the courage to step up and consider a change.

Know your goals. Be visionary. Where do you want to go? You don’t have to know the details of how you will get there, everyone takes a different path and runs into an occasional detour. Know where YOU want to go and keep an eye on the horizon. If you make a career decision for the short term, in order to get where you want to be for the long term, fine. Own. It. Friends. 

Have a macro plan and a micro plan. Want a career in the financial services field as an investment banker, terrific. What is your micro plan to get you where you want to go?  Why did you join the firm you’re working for now? Prestige or compensation? Am I surrounded by the people I want to be exposed to?

Have the courage to take a chance. Be confident and practice adaptability. When detours are thrown in front of you know you can handle them, shift gears and continue to have the attitude there is always more to learn. Start acting, take risks, fail. Stop apologizing and prevaricating. Take the initiative.

Don’t overthink. As women we tend to ruminate. We have to get out of our heads if we want to own our confidence. Don’t dwell on the problems, seek solutions. Don’t automatically assume problems are our fault. Don’t be deterred by setbacks. Some of the best opportunities come from setbacks.

Embrace being female. A recent Stanford Business School study shows that women who can combine male and female qualities do better than everyone else. Own our voice. Don’t believe you have to lean in the way men do. Don’t sacrifice what makes us unique.

What are our best qualities? Collaboration, process orientation, persuasion and humility are a few. Own your strengths and don’t be shy to use them. We know our value to the bottom line of companies. Speak up, take the seat at the table and be confident of what you bring. Ask for what you want and keep your career and life goals in mind.

Be authentic. To who you are, to what you want to accomplish. When you are authentic, true to yourself, you are confident – it will emanate from your core, and therein lies your power to achieve your career goals and a successful life.

Remember: what we do now matters for children, our daughters and our sons.

This is my motivator, my 16-year-old daughter and my 13-year-old son. Learning to own my voice, embrace my confidence, not be afraid to make mistakes, and take charge of my career in an effort to be an example to our daughters, our nieces, and even to our sons as they look to marry and navigate their careers while supporting their wives as well.

True success comes from the inside.

The heart. It isn’t based on external circumstances. It is yours to have and keep.

If you don’t take charge of your life, your career, someone else will do it for you.

Be the captain of your ship.