OK, so I’m not a woman. That doesn’t mean I can’t help facilitate a discussion that more women would do well to take part in, especially at a time when they’re deciding on what New Year’s resolutions they’ll make so that 2013 will be better than 2012. And it doesn’t mean I have no voice in promoting the idea that this year’s resolution ought to be all about overcoming acquiescence and a survival mentality, and taking responsibility for your own happiness and fulfillment.
That’s the message of Vickie Milazzo, a registered nurse, attorney and entrepreneur in the field of legal nurse consulting, whom I’ve interviewed in the past and whose advice has been spot-on for IT professionals, female and male alike. Milazzo, who is also author of the book, “Wicked Success Is Inside Every Woman,” has come up with a list of nine strategies to help women get out of the rut of just “enduring,” and to cultivate a more resourceful, fulfilling frame of mind in 2013:
Break the feel-good addiction. Remember, where you focus is where you’ll yield results. And because we like to feel good, we gravitate toward what’s easy instead of what’s productive. We major in minor accomplishments, wasting time surfing the Internet, watching TV, hanging out on Facebook, trying to beat our high score on “Angry Birds.” Here’s a news flash: There’s no real life prize for being great at “Angry Birds.” It’s time to let go of time-sucking distractions. The more superficial things you engage in, the more superficial your life and accomplishments will be. So the next time you have a break at work or the next time all the kids are out of the house, instead of checking your email, Facebook or texts, use the time to take a step toward achieving one of your goals.
Stop being the Chief Everything Officer — don’t say “yes” by default. It’s a hard lesson to learn, but in order to be wickedly successful, you have to understand that by saying “no” to some things you will have the time and energy to say “yes” to the right things. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and pulled in every direction, you won’t be able to lead yourself, much less anyone else. Stop committing your energy to every person or situation that demands it. You need to set your own expectations of what you want to accomplish. Don’t let your career or life take a backseat to everyone else’s. Yes, you have responsibilities to others. But you’ve also got a responsibility to yourself.
Do something big every day. You eat a whale the same way you eat an apple—one bite at a time. The wickedly successful understand that to accomplish any project you can’t expect to do it all at once. This is often why our New Year’s resolutions don’t work out. You say, “I am going to lose 20 pounds!” And then you implement a new exercise regimen — or heck, just start actually exercising — and after two days of no weight loss you get discouraged. You aren’t going to achieve your goals overnight. You have to work at it every day. Commit to doing something big every day towards that project or goal, and you’ll reach it. Keep working out regularly and slowly but surely you’ll see the results. Find something you can improve and start improving it—one bite, one step, one day at a time.
Stop hanging with the biggest losers. When you choose to participate in negative behaviors, they rub off on you. Think about it this way: If you’re struggling to achieve a goal, you shouldn’t hang out with someone else who is struggling to achieve that same goal. If you want to be great at golf, you don’t hang out with a bad golfer. Successful people tend to hang out with other successful people, not with losers who whine about someone else’s success. Stick with the winners. The view from the top is meant to be shared. Find someone who’s already there to share it with, not someone who’s never seen it.
Expand what you’re willing to believe about yourself. Studies show that women will underestimate their own abilities, judging themselves lower than their skills prove, while men overestimate their abilities, judging themselves more competent. If you see yourself as powerless, that’s what you will be. Anytime you find yourself entertaining doubts or trying to limit what you think is possible, remind yourself of your past successes. Let them infuse you with confidence and bolster your resolve. Believing you can do it — whatever it is — is 90 percent of the win. When I walked into my first meeting with a potential client, my legs were literally shaking. I forced myself to remember that this attorney needed specialized knowledge that only I — a critical care nurse — could give him. That reminder didn’t banish all of my nervousness, but it did enable me to make the points I wanted with my first client. I learned that when you expand what you’re willing to believe about yourself, you can transform who you are and what your life looks like.
Don’t wait for conditions to be perfect. Along the way to becoming wickedly successful, you may have to redefine what success looks like for you. Conditions will never be perfect — there will always be something muddying the water, even if it’s just a little muddy. The real challenge is accepting that you have to keep on giving your best even when things aren’t perfect. Misguided perfectionism can keep you from stepping out and going for what you want. Perfectionism can also rob you of the enjoyment of experiences. Distinguishing what does and doesn’t require perfection is the hallmark of wickedly successful women.
Surround yourself with as many successful mentors as possible. Inept coaches don’t fail to help you — they help you to fail. Look around you for others whose work you admire and model yourself after them instead. Get out of the rut of your own habits. Take your advice from people with a proven positive track record. Accepting the leadership of others does not make you less capable of achieving your goals. It actually boosts your abilities. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice. And when you get good advice, don’t be too proud to follow it.
Regenerate your passion for work. Do you remember why you wanted the career you have? There aren’t many jobs that offer easy hours and easy money, so that probably wasn’t it. It was probably the love you had for the profession whether you get to help people every day, use your creativity, crunch numbers or whatever your passion is. Tap back into the frame of mind you had when you were just starting out. Ask yourself, “What can I do to become passionate about work again?” When you take this inward look, it is entirely possible you’ll see the path ahead going in an unexpected direction. Your passion might lead you somewhere else. That’s what happened to me when I started my business. I was a registered nurse and I realized I wanted more passion, more joy in the part of my life that sucked up 10 hours every day. That journey led me to pioneer the profession of legal nurse consulting. You’ll know passion when you’ve found it because you’ll feel amazingly engaged and energetic. Desire will become energy and you’ll have plenty of it to create your new life — your real life.
Take care of yourself first. If you stepped back and looked at your daily routine objectively, as if it were happening to your best friend, what would be your advice? Slow down? Take a few deep breaths? Spend a few moments enjoying one day before another day crashes in with new demands? We need to give ourselves such loving advice — and listen to it. We need to thrive, not just survive. To have healthy, exciting and fulfilling relationships with others, we must first have a healthy, exciting and fulfilling relationship with ourselves. Don’t be so busy taking care of others that you forget to take care of yourself. You can’t be your best self if you’re not your own self.