As a women’s career coach and consultant, I deliver scores of training series, teleclasses and career coaching programs each year helping women build more success and reward in their careers. In the seven years I’ve offered these types of programs, I’ve been truly shocked at the number of women (hundreds upon hundreds) who indicate they want to join a program (whether it’s $10, $100, or $1,000), but never pull the trigger. I can tell you categorically that this is different behavior from what I see in the men who come to me for help. And this reluctance relates to all forms of development – classes, certification, joining industry associations, attending networking functions, asking for funding, getting help with business plans, and much more.
Typically, men hear me speak, or read my website and blog, talk to me, and then say “Yes” very quickly to working together. No hemming and hawing, no “Let me have a few days to think about this,” and certainly not “I have to check in with my spouse about the investment.” Ever. Even when the woman is the primary breadwinner, she often doesn’t feel she has the power or authority to say yes to investing in herself without checking with her husband first. I believe that a part of this behavior is a lack of confidence women experience in investing in their own growth.
There’s been a great deal of research and writing about this confidence gap in women, and the root causes, and I have my own theories and beliefs about what contributes to it today (including cultural training, rigid gender roles, role modeling, etc.). But as a career coach who spent years as a therapist and a corporate director focused on advancing women, I’m less interested in the causes and much more interested in the solutions. I’ve come to see that this is not a myth – women often do, in fact, let their doubts and insecurities about themselves stop them, whereas men tend to push forward despite their doubts. For example, in Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In, she references an internal report at Hewlett-Packard that revealed that women only apply for open jobs if they think they meet 100 percent of the criteria listed; men apply if they think they meet 60 percent of the requirements. I share this not to be unsupportive to women, but to help us all gain awareness of what’s holding us back to achieve what we long for. After all, greater awareness equals greater choice.
Do a check-in and see if you’re suffering from this condition I call “intractable resistance to growth.” Here are what I’ve found to be top five reasons why women won’t invest in their own growth when they should, and why it hurts them. Do these sounds familiar?
They need to check with someone else.
When it comes to personal and professional development (or anything in life for that matter), you need to make yourself the highest authority of your life, not your spouse, your sister, your boss, your partner. You need to know beyond a shadow of a doubt what you need, want and what you deserve, and go out and get it. It’s not up to your spouse or anyone else to tell you if you should make this investment – it’s up to you. (I know you’ll say that you and your husband need to agree on your budgeting, etc. To that, I say you need to know what’s necessary, and find a way to get it.)
They’re not sure this is the “right” time.
Here’s a harsh reality: we’re all over –the-top busy and over-committed, and it’s never going to feel like the “right time” to invest in yourself. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t the best time. You’ll always be able to make excuse after excuse as to why you don’t have time to do something critical that will help you. But people who create great success, happiness and reward in their lives carve out the necessary time and money. They don’t get lost in all the reasons why later would be better.
They’re not clear about the return on investment.
Women worry, “Will I get enough out of this?” and “Will this be a mistake?” Ensuring that your investment offers a healthy return is a choice – it’s based on your actions and decisions, not some random act or chance occurrence. It requires thorough research and due diligence to know if an investment will pay off, but more than that, it requires confidence and commitment that you’ll make sure the money you spend on yourself will be well worth it in the long run.
CLICK HERE to read the complete article on the top 5 reasons women resist investing in themselves.
Do you resist investing in your own growth? Do you chronically put yourself last? What can you do to push forward and step up to say “YES!” to supporting your own development, and contributing to the world in bigger ways. I’d love your thoughts.