Many women don’t feel successful
I have long been disturbed by the number of accomplished, intelligent women I have met who feel overwhelmed and conflicted, rather than proud of, their successes. Success, particularly feeling successful, has become a challenging concept for women living in western democracies such as Australia. This is in part because the expansion of rights and opportunities for women has also given rise to increased role conflict, hence inner conflict. That sense of inner conflict goes beyond the practical challenges of ‘the juggle’ to the heart of who we are as individuals, leading many of us to wrestle with this question:
How can I succeed at my various roles and still be myself?
Striving to succeed often means attempting to live up to the expectations of society which we have either internalised or have had imposed upon us.
We understand the causes
Many of the causes of women’s sense of inner conflict are familiar:
- The masculine nature of the societal norms by which business and career success is judged;
- The double-bind dilemma arising from the clash between masculine norms for leadership and stereotypes applied to women;
- The conflict between these norms and those relating to women’s other roles, including parenting and personal relationships, and
- The increased sense of pressure arising from unrealistic expectations associated with modern motherhood.
It is time for women to redefine success
Women living in this country are still trailblazers. Even more importantly, we are role models. I say this because same gender role models are more important to women than they are for men. What we do and how we do it greatly influences the behaviour of others who watch.
It is time we use this power to inspire other women by determining our own definition of success. After all, success is something we define, not something which defines us.
What can individual women do?
Values conflict is a potent contributor to the sense of inner conflict women feel. This is because women are more likely than men to put their values ahead of money or career success. One simple yet powerful exercise we can all do is to reflect on our core values. Doing so enhances a woman’s sense of self-worth and reduces the impact of stereotype threat.
In order to get the full benefit of this exercise it is important to:
- Anchor your core values with a description of why they are important to you;
- Reinforce them by referring to them regularly, and
- Use them as the cornerstone for how you define success.
You can use this free guide to do this exercise.
My purpose is to help other women to be successful at being themselves.
I have written a self-coaching journal to guide women to define success in their own terms. The content and design of the journal combines insights from research and lessons from my career.
I started writing the journal as a project to help a friend and in the process, I discovered my purpose – to help create female role models who demonstrate it’s possible to be both successful and to be yourself.
If you would like to take the next step you can find out more about the journal or contact me.
About Jacqui Alder, Founder and Author, Clarity Simplicity Success
Jacqui Alder has had an extensive international career in human resources working in global businesses across multiple industry sectors.
She is founder at Clarity Simplicity Success for Women and author of a self-coaching journal of the same name.
The purpose of this business is to empower women to be successful at being themselves while they are striving to be successful at whatever they do.