CAREER RESTART for Women 22 February 2018
Many of us have moved around the world following our husbands’ jobs, having had to give up flourishing careers that we had worked so hard to set up. We’ve picked up and moved to a new land where we’ve had to start afresh in all aspects. In such a situation, it’s not unusual for us to start blaming our circumstances, feel like a victim and start pitying ourselves. We must, however, remember - 1. We made the decision to move. We chose what was the best in the given set of circumstances and what was for the greater good of the family. 2. Family is important for us. When bringing up a small child, his/her needs often take precedence over our own, which is the need of the time. Based on the above, when we choose to move, we make an active choice that prioritises what is best for us and our family in that moment. So then why do we settle in the status quo – we resign ourselves to being at home, but then also build resentment towards the situation, and the people surrounding it. However, what we do not realize is that this resentment is the ultimate barrier to positive change. In order to make any progress, we first have to change our mindset. You are here, ready to restart your career. The key is to be grateful at the second chance you have been given. You now hold the reigns of your life again, and you have the ability to design it the way you want. So bring yourself out of the blame mindset, and put all that energy into designing the life that you are truly wishing for. I’d like to introduce the GROW model of planning. GROW is a way to dig deep into your high-level goals, understand exactly what you want, why you want it and then define what the most realistic way is for you to achieve it. When we set out to make a change, there are two very important steps to make sure it is transformed into an actionable plan – firstly, that we break our high-level plan down into measurable, time-based steps that are achievable and secondly, that we narrow-in on the decision-making process at every step to make sure it is necessary and fully efficient. So here is the simple 4 step process of GROW: 1. GOALS Goals start off as desires, wishes and dreams. But these dreams only transform into reality if we create an actionable plan around them. This can be easily done through employing the SMART Goal-Setting process, which helps us write our goal in a single sentence, encompassing all the important aspects of it, while also making sure it is transferrable into action. Specific: When setting a goal, you have to be specific about exactly what you want to achieve, to ensure you get exactly what you want. Identify exactly it will feel like when you achieve that goal, why you want to achieve it and what impact will it have on you and your family once you do achieve it. Measurable: Set milestone-based targets around what you want to achieve so you can keep track of your progress. Achievable: Make space for all the resources you will need to actually achieve this goal. Would you need to upgrade your skill-set? Would your daily routine need to change? Account for all the changes you will have to make in order to get to your destination. Relevant: In your given set of circumstances, is this goal relevant? Are there location or time-based restrictions that might hinder you achieving this goal? If these are solvable, you will need to first take care of them. If not, you might have to edit your goal to account for these. Timely: Deadlines make us take action! Break down into short-term actions, then install deadlines to each of them. Achieve those quick wins, but also remember not to be too rigid - sometimes things don't go as planned, and life happens! Another important thing is to make sure to state your goal positively. For example, instead of “I don't read”, say “I will read for an hour an 10pm every night before bed”. Don't focus on what you can’t do, but rather on what you can. 2. REALITY The second element in the GROW model is getting a close look at your personal reality and making note of your specific and exclusive circumstances. This gives you an idea of your advantages and strengths, and also helps you anticipate and intercept any barriers and boundaries that may arise. You will also be able to catalog why exactly this goal is important to you and how your reality will change once you achieve your goals. Become aware of your current reality and how it will have to change to make way for your future reality by allowing yourself to explore, expand and deconstruct. 3. OPTIONS From the previous two steps, you now know what your goal is, why it is important to you and what your new reality looks like. This step is all about looking at your skill-set, your circumstances and your interests, and understanding the viable options that are open for you to pursue. List six things that excite you as viable career options for you to pursue, then rank them in order of preference, difficulty and how realistic they are. You can take this one step further by then listing out what resources you would need to leverage to achieve each one. Would you need to study further? Do a refresher course? Read up on the latest developments in the field? This process will help give you an idea of exactly which option to focus on. 4. WAY FORWARD From the previous step, select the top option that resonates the most with you, and fits into your reality the best. You will then need to create a time-based, milestone-focused actionable plan that lists out each step you will have to take to get to your goal. There you have it – the GROW model for goal-planning. Ultimately, remember to be resilient. As you go through the action items for your plan, it is possible you feel the option you have selected might not be working out for reasons outside your control. Be adaptable, go ahead and explore Option 2. You have a well-thought out plan, and success is inevitable – its just about finding the success that suits you, your circumstances and your reality the best. If you do feel yourself slipping back into the negative thoughts, use your Trust Circle as a sounding board to talk to and express your feelings. Write down your personalized positive affirmation or motto, and repeat that to yourself. If you stay positive and continue moving forward, your goals are achievable and success will coming knocking and probably sooner than you thought! If you would like a copy of the workbook I have created to aid this process, please get in touch and I will be happy to provide this to you. Go forth and succeed!
It was great to partner with Sheroes in Singapore to start a conversation on Addressing the Confidence Gap. While these conversations alone may not wash away the related issues of gender bias, glass ceiling, harassment etc., these conversations certainly have the power to raise awareness and empower women to voice these issues openly. And I strongly believe that Awareness is the essential Precursor for Change.
We are living in a world that is constantly judging and calibrating us. To some extent it is human nature, we constantly analyze and slot things, experiences and people against our own measure, with the simple and basic need to feel secure and not threatened by another. The sad thing is that without realizing, we start judging our own selves against those same measures. That's when we start to loose self-confidence and self-doubt sets in. We start seeking external validation, feeling unhappy and stuck! For ages we have lived in a patriarchal society, where women’s roles have been pre-assigned, it is pre-decided how we should behave, how we should be in public. We are constantly made to feel that somehow we are lesser than the men! When the very environment we grow up in is hostile and non-conducive, how can we thrive? The effect of early stress and a hostile environment on confidence levels has been widely researched. Here I am reminded of a research study on rats (Michael J. Meaney, professor at McGill University). Baby rats were separated into two groups. For one groups the mother rat licked and groomed the babies constantly while the other group of babies was completely ignored. Upon maturity both groups were left in a larger cage and offered food. The rats that had been ignored were anxious, jittery, nervous, sticking to a corner, taking a long time to venture out to get food and eating very little. In other words they were not confident at all. The rats that had been loved, almost immediately started exploring the full cage, they were curious and confident. These rats started eating within a few seconds and ate for a longer time. These rats were also calmer. Speaks volumes right! If a hostile environment can impact rats, imagine its effect on humans. Women have been constantly discriminated, deprived basic rights and silenced at every level. How then can we be confident within? While men walk the planet with a calm and “honest over-confidence” (Columbia Business School) and a sense of entitlement simply because of the environment society provides them, women suffer from low self-confidence, we always underestimate our abilities, hold ourselves back and compromise. We push our self-actualization needs far down in the list. If a women does well its very rare that she will attribute it to the fact that she is good at it, more often than not, we hear ourselves saying “Oh I was at the right place at the right time” or “If he did not support me, I don't know if I’d be where I have reached” or some other excuse. We shy away from acknowledging our abilities and taking credit. This is the “Confidence Gap” that we women need to close. Today Women are doing much better than men in every field – academics, workplace, home, business, you name it…we do it! Yet the issues of gender bias, glass ceiling, unequal pay, sexual and emotional harassment at work, home and public is rampant in every part of the world. If in this age and time Ben Carson, now Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, USA can blatantly ask MSNBC to cut-off Katy Kay’s mic ‘so that I can talk ‘ when she asks him a very relevant question on sexual harassment of women, we know the kind of world we are living in and we know what we have to overcome! Watch a short clip of the interview here: https://youtu.be/qXMPCAazFa4
Overseas Family School Parent Association Invitation 16 November 2017 How Conversations Create Worlds
The first Power Meet for the Powerful Woman, held on 8 Nov 2017, was dream come true, a dream that I had been holding for a long time. And I know this will grow into something big. I believe that we women need a voice, we are holding too much inside of us and do not get a safe space where we can express ourselves without judgment. Through Power Meet I want to provide a platform where women can feel a sense of un-inhibited belonging, a place where we support and nurture each other in cohesive groups, a space of empowerment, where we return to being our Authentic Self. Through the first Power Meet, the group discovered that Confidence Gap is indeed real for us: • We are not Confident about their abilities and we have an urge to improve this aspect • We may not be confident in the company of other women who are achievers and this can harbor resentment • We put our careers and businesses behind and move around the world with our husbands, take responsibility of our families. We may accept it but don't necessarily feel good about it • We have to work harder to prove ourselves in business and workplace and to be taken seriously • We may want to choose to be with the family and not work, we have to fight for that as well Oh there are so many more issues that need to be addressed! How can we make a start to change the situation? We need to support each other. We need to open a dialogue and have conversations so we know we are not alone, that these are shared experiences and that this can be rectified, it needs a simple realignment of perspective and an inward focus. When we question the status quo, we expand our awareness and create new awareness. This is the precursor of change. To be able to be self confident we need to live true to our values, discover our true purpose and then build our life around that. Only then can we be confident, content and live with no regrets. Let us also be the change-makers who carve and create a path for our daughters and young women so that they can break the shackles, live to the fullest, self -confident and happy. If our daughters have faith in themselves and their abilities and stand confident inside out, all other related issues will no longer be relevant and will slowly fizzle away.
24 July 2017 Last night we all watched the ICC Women's World Cup Final between India and England. I must commend the Indian Women’s team for their effort and grit; it was a well-played match. And may I say…much better then our men's team! The bowling and fielding was beautiful and the coordination of team to score runs was great. The pressure just got too high after Mithali Raj’s give-away RunOut. The focus of the team shifted to scoring boundaries. Instead, if they had focused on scoring singles and twos, the outcome of the match may have been different. What is my learning from the game? We need to focus on the journey and just 'be in the flow'. As Dalai Lama says, "Be calm to be Clear", when we are calm, our higher order thinking of rationality and logic is active. The stress hormones Cortisol and Adrenaline are under control and do not Flood our System and Hijack it. The pressure to perform is thus not the right focus in our life-journey. Neither is trying to appease someone outside of us. If we focus too much on judgment by others, it takes us away from the task. We must live by our own standards. The right tools or mindset to take life by the horns is to focus on the journey and stay calm. If we switch our mindset to believing in ourselves and emphasize to ourselves that ‘I am giving my best, I will always give my best and I will live to be my best’ it's a paradigm shift! Success is yours. Lord Krishna repeatedly says in The Bhagwad Geeta that we should focus on the journey and not the end result. We should leave that be and focus on the need of the hour, our Duty. In any given situation there will always be factors outside of our control. We cannot do much about this other than giving it our best and facing it with Calm, Candour and Courage This little fine-tuning of the Mindset makes such a big difference. Try it!
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