Last weekend, I had the great pleasure of joining a number of inspiring local authors from Fairfield County, CT at the Wilton Library, to meet our area residents and share about our books and our work. It was a wonderful experience to connect with talented authors in my community – accomplished writers of a wide range of material including non-fiction, novels, memoirs, sports, etc. who have poured their talents and brilliance into their works to share their ideas and perspectives with the world. (I was very inspired to launch my 2nd book which is with a great agent now, and finish my screenplay this summer.) I sat next to Jack Cavanaugh, for instance, whose book Tunney: Boxing’s Brainiest Champ and His Upset of the Great Jack Demsey was nominated for a Pulitzer prize, and I was awed by his vast body of work.
In talking about my book Breakdown, Breakthrough: The Professional Woman’s Guide to Claiming a Life of Passion, Power and Purpose, it brought back the powerful experience I had in 2006-7 of conducting my yearlong in-depth research study on women overcoming professional crisis. I interviewed over 100 professional women across the country who’d experienced deep challenges in the workplace and in their careers, to dimensionalize and understand more deeply the key challenges and issues, and bring new solutions to the table. We explored the many social, cultural, organizational, and individual factors that contribute to these 12 “hidden” challenges professional women face, and identified more clearly how to successfully navigate through them. I learned in my subsequent quantitative follow-up study that 7 out of 10 working women ages 30-55 are experiencing at least one of these hidden challenges, and on average, they’re facing three at the same time.
Here’s a bit more about Breakdown, Breakthrough and paving the way to career bliss, from my interview with The Wilton Bulletin editor Jeannette Ross:
As I mentioned in the interview, while Breakdown, Breakthrough was published in 2008, it’s as relevant today as it was then. In my coaching, teaching and career consulting work with over 10,000 women in 10 years, I see and hear daily how these 12 challenges hit women hard, and over half don’t know what to do about it.
The 12 “hidden” challenges the book explores are experiences of disempowerment, professional paralysis and emotional pain that fall into four categories: our relationship (and empowerment – or disempowerment) with Ourselves, Others, the World and our Higher Selves. Here’s a brief look at these challenges:
Empowerment With Self
1. Resolving Chronic Health Problems
2. Overcoming Loss
3. Achieving Self-Love
Empowerment with Others
4. Speaking Up with Power
5. Breaking Cycles of Mistreatment
6. Shifting from Competition to Collaboration
Empowerment with the World
7. Escaping Financial Traps
8. Using Real Talents in Life and Work
9. Helping Others and the World
Empowerment with Higher Self
10. Falling Together After Falling Apart
11. Balancing Life and Work
12. Doing Work and Play You Love
One thing I’ve seen countless times in my career consulting programs – the vast majority of people wait until a true crisis hits before they take action to change how they operate in the world. I lived this experience as well – staying for 18 years in a corporate career and life that was terribly ill-fitting and unfulfilling (even damaging) for me. I waited until I’d experienced all 12 of the crises I write and speak about, before I finally snapped and said “I’m done with this! I refuse to feel like a victim one minute longer.”
If any of these challenges ring true for you, I hope you’ll make this the day you finally take one concrete action to improve your life. It doesn’t have to turn your whole life upset down, and you don’t necessarily have to chuck your entire career out the window. (As I love to say, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.”) But you do have to do something different, to modify and improve the way you operate in the world. Whether it’s committing to taking the necessary time to restore and rejuvenate yourself from the toxicity around you, or taking my Career Path Self-Assessment to gain more clarity on what you really want going forward, or finally mustering the courage to have that tough conversation with your boss (or your spouse), today is the day to do it.
Don’t wait until true crisis smacks you in the face before you realize that you deserve better in your life and work, and you’re ready to get it.