Several years ago I conducted a yearlong research study with over 100 working women across the country about professional crises in women and how we can reclaim our lives to overcome them. I was astounded by the findings, and felt they were so universal and important for women, I wrote a book called Breakdown Breakthrough about these 12 crises, offering a three-step holistic model to break through these challenges once and for all.
Since the book came out in 2008, women from all over the country have written to me sharing sentiments such as, “You are writing to me, about me, and for me,” and “It’s as if you know exactly what I’m living and feeling!” My research shows that 9 out of 10 working women are experiencing at least one of these 12 “hidden” crises, and on average, women are experiencing three at the same time! And over half of these women don’t know what to do about it.
These 12 crises are not just tiny “bumps” in the road but full-out, serious challenges that are marked by chronic disempowered thinking and a serious lack of ability to move oneself forward in positive, powerful ways towards one’s goals and visions.
These 12 crises fall into four categories that represent how we relate to ourselves and the world.
These four levels depict the nature of our:
- Relationship with Ourselves
- Relationship with Others
- Relationship with the World
- Relationship with Our Higher Selves
In general, each crisis is characterized by an “I can’t do this!” mantra, or some form of disempowered thinking, beliefs and actions. The crises include:
- “I can’t speak up for myself.”
- “I can’t get out of this financial trap.”
- “I can’t escape this crushing competition.”
- “I can’t resolve my chronic health problems.”
- “I don’t like who I’ve become.”
- “I can’t use my real talents in my work.”
- “I can’t balance life and work.”
- “I can’t do work and play that I love.”
Entrepreneurial Women Face these Same Challenges
As I move forward with marketing consulting work for entrepreneurial women around the country, I’m finding that these same 12 crises are challenging women in their entrepreneurial ventures as well, and in the ways in which they view and run their businesses!
Entrepreneurial women are challenged on these same four levels:
Relationship With Themselves as Entrepreneurs
Key issue: “Do I have what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur, and am I “good” or “smart” enough to run this business?”
Relationship With Others
Key issue: “How can I forge a mutually-beneficial and supporting relationship with clients, customers, colleagues, and peers?”
Relationship With The World
Key issue: “Am I using my real gifts and talents in this business, and is my business providing a service to the world that I care about delivering, that others need and want?”
Relationship With the Higher Self
Key issue: “Does my business have a higher mission, vision and values that mean more to me than simply making money?”
If you’re an entrepreneurial woman and are challenged with any of the above issues in your life and work, please know that there is indeed help out there for you, and these are very common challenges that entrepreneurial women face. Also know that new thinking and actions can indeed shift you away from feeling disempowered and unable to tackle the issues at hand. You can do this, and you can do it well, loving your work and thriving in the process. But you have to take action, and a kind of action that is different from what you normally would engage in.
There are four key steps to overcoming these types of challenges:
1. Step Back – to gain a fresh, empowered perspective of your situation and what it is telling you about what needs to change
2. Let Go – of the thinking, actions, and behaviors that are keeping you stuck and holding you back
3. Say Yes! – to your compelling future visions of your business and of your success as an entrepreneurial woman.
4. Create It – create a S.M.A.R.T. plan with concrete, measurable goals and action steps — and find someone to help you become accountable — for moving on your way to achieving your visions of success and fulfillment.
Try this experiment! Pick up a copy of my book Breakdown Breakthrough and read it. (Commit to carving out a bit of time just for yourself over the holidays and read the chapters that really speak to you.) As you read the book and the powerful stories and advice presented by women who have transformed their lives and work, focus specifically on the concepts and information that elicit a feeing of “resistance” in you – ideas or words that make you say to yourself, “Oh, I really don’t want to look at that,” or “That’s not me!” Then take one, targeted action that will help you address the area you resist the most.
One of the most powerful concepts I learned in therapy training is, “What you resist, persists.” Watch closely what you resist, because resistance is a sign that you’re overly attached to one particular view or approach, and you’ve closed yourself off from openly exploring other avenues. I’ve found that the biggest breakthroughs, learning and growth come when we muster the courage to walk directly toward — and through — what we resist the most.
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Let me know how the experiment works! What is your deepest entrepreneurial struggle, and what did you learn when you mustered the courage to walk through your resistance to Say Yes! to yourself and your business.
Thank you for sharing, and wishing you many happy breakthroughs.