Photo by Emily Morter on Unsplash
I had a conversation recently with a leading woman in finance and it made me think just how common it is for me to be presented with the situation where ladies get to a point where they realise they are lost. It’s like they wake up after the years of having children or the fog of being with the same company for 10 years and they try and figure out where they are. But then once they’ve wiped the metaphoric sleep out of their eyes, reality stares them in the face and their moment of questioning and reflection is lost. They get out of bed, get the house ready for the day, kids off to school, then off to their job where they are in a senior role and paid pretty well. Things aren’t that bad, are they? No - in the moment, they’re not. We’re busy at work, have a nice house, we wear nice clothes and importantly our loved ones are happy. ‘Beautiful chaos’ as one of my brilliant mentors, Chris Freeman, refers to it. It’s in those brief moments of reflection - in the shower, on the way home from work, dinner with girlfriends - when we realise there has undeniably been a paradigm shift and it’s left us feeling ‘urgh’ in the stomach. To make matters more challenging, when we start to figure out what that feeling means, inevitably we get caught up in the decision of ‘where to next’? And because life is complex, and it’s been so long since we’ve thought about our own needs, wants, our profile at work, how are we going to get our next job, what job do we want next, we move into overwhelm pretty quickly. So we step back out and let ‘life’ carry us forward. Decision fatigue is a reality for leading women in Finance We spend all day making decisions, solving problems. We love it. We get immense satisfaction helping our customers - internal and external - overcome their biggest business challenges and achieve their goals. We’re absorbed with mentoring our staff through their career and helping to guide them in the way you were (or wish you were). Getting to the other side is exhausting and exhilarating at the same time. Our calendar is jam packed solving problems: how to meet budget, how to explain to an area of the business that they need to shave 5% off their costs, how to get the best out of our team (which is understaffed at the moment) and how to make sure we are a ‘present’ wife, partner or mother. Phew. It’s exhausting just writing it all down. So when we start to listen to that feeling in our gut and begin to let the questions emerge ‘what do I really want to be doing?’, the answers and potential decisions that we might need to make seem big, hairy and complex. We put too much pressure on whether ’this is the sliding doors decision’ that we need to make. We simply need a next step When I work with my female leaders, they want to achieve tangible outcomes: better presentation skills, more influence at work, better stakeholder engagement, delegate more to their team whilst concurrently lift team performance, take the next step in their career. But consistently, what underlies all of that is a desire to have the confidence to know they are doing what they want to be doing at work, behaving in a way that they’re proud of, and being satisfied that they’ve got their priorities right. But confidence isn’t a next step. Confidence is something that emerges…and only after the actions and behaviours (related to presentation, influence, etc) are learned, embedded and are aligned with our desires. You just need a next step A next step to create some small change towards your end game. A next step that will address that urge to do more that sits at the bottom of your stomach. A next step that will make you feel like you’re doing something for yourself. Step by step Incremental actions leads to bigger change. You don’t need to make the big decisions now. You just need to take the next steps that will help you build for tomorrow, today. What is your next step?