1) Stop Shrinking
As Marianne Williamson tells us in A Return to Love: “Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you… as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
As women, we really need to start lovingly calling ourselves out more and fiercely step into our brilliance and big ideas. Much like Williamson says, “We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?”
2) Stop Telling Your Big Dreams to Small-Minded People
Really, just stop. We can all thank Steve Harvey for the interview he did with Oprah when he offered this pointed reminder that a lot of people simply won’t understand, or just don’t deserve to hear, your boldest and most beautiful aspirations.
You likely already know exactly who these people are, and you may even love a few of them dearly, but do yourself a favor and stop putting yourself in a position where you have to listen to their negative, deflating and defeating responses.
Constantly defending and justifying your dreams and desires is not only exhausting, but also counterproductive and unhealthy. Take the time to actively seek out like-minded people who will acknowledge, affirm and celebrate your audacious goals.
3) Stop Settling
Janis Joplin said it best in her very last interview: “You are what you settle for.”
Whether it’s toxic people, the status quo, the dead-end job or an unhealthy lifestyle, it’s simply a fact that people often choose the familiar over the unknown – even when the familiar is really, really bad. And, while it’s hard to admit, many of us find a certain solace in shifting accountability for any adverse circumstances outside of ourselves.
Pervasive self-doubt or an unwillingness to take ownership of our stake in the game serves to keep so many women royally stuck. Playing bigger in the world requires that you recognize it is indeed better to be alone than poorly accompanied and that your past does not need to be the primary predictor of your future.
4) Stop Saying Yes
Women, more so than men, routinely say yes to tasks, commitments and people that are entirely incongruent with their passions and priorities. In repeatedly saying yes to others, you are constantly screaming no to yourself. All too often, as Brené Brown puts it, “we stand outside of our story and hustle for our worthiness by constantly performing, perfecting, pleasing, and proving.”
Mastering the art of persistently and politely declining “busy work” and soul-sucking activities (and individuals!) isn’t easy, but it’s the most liberating thing you’ll ever do. By making a habit of answering only to what calls you deeply, you’ll empower yourself to spend more time as a “human being,” rather than a “human doing.”
5) Stop Waiting Until You’re Ready
In my leadership development work, I regularly encounter women who tell me that they will “start” – launch their business, go for the promotion, share their creative work - once they take one more course, get one more credential or make one more connection in their industry. While women point to their lack of experience or expertise for inaction, in reality so many of us are either buying into the myth that we need to be “more” to be worthy or we are just comfortably shackled to mediocrity.
As Steven Pressfield writes in the War of Art, “We fear discovering that we are more than we think we are…We fear that we actually possess the talent that our still, small voice tells us. That we actually have the guts, the perseverance, the capacity. We fear that we truly can steer our ship, plant our flag, reach our Promised Land. We fear this because, if it’s true, then we become estranged from all we know.”
We need to consciously recognize that procrastination and perfectionism are usually nothing more than the by-products of fear and resistance – your ego’s artful ways of protecting you from the vulnerability that accompanies visibility. Get cozy with discomfort and prepare to feel unsure, unqualified and unprepared at times, but meet yourself where you’re at and just get going.