I've been around the block. I've recently launched my 3rd company, I'm a published author and national speaker, and I've been an entrepreneur for 25 years.
I've raised two sons with minimal hired help, and I've been sandwiched between elder care and childcare on and off for many years. During those times, I pulled my company back from bankruptcy, I've dodged 2 cancer bullets, and I've pushed through situational bouts with depression and anxiety. I'm not only standing. I'm thriving.
They say "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger." I don't disagree with that statement, however, there are some cardinal rules women can follow to make their journeys a little less arduous and much more fulfilling.
Here are the 6 non-negotiable things all women should strive to do.
- Honor Yourself. Follow the oxygen mask analogy: secure your own oxygen in place so that you can help others. We can't pour from an empty cup. Self-sacrifice is not a noble virtue, nor is it one that we should teach our children. Caring for ourselves allows us to fully show up for others, and teaches those around us that we are worthy of respect. No one will ever treat us better than we treat ourselves.
- Honor Your Health. Commit to scheduling all required doctor's appointments. Be educated on which screenings you need at every age. Go above and beyond required care as your body changes, with extra screenings for vitamin & mineral deficiencies, and hormone levels. Your body is the only permanent home you will ever have so take good care of it.
- Honor Your Friendships. Girlfriends are lifelines. They are therapy without the co-pay. Your girlfriends are your 2 AM safety nets, and will love you when you find it difficult to love yourself. Nurture your old and new friendships. Friends that know and share your life history are priceless. As you age, it will be your lifetime friends that keep you connected to your best childhood memories, and to the most carefree versions of yourself. Work will always be there but friendships will diminish unless you prioritize them. What we nurture grows, and what we ignore dies.
- Honor Help & Support. There's no shame in asking for help. Caring for others - both old and young - while trying to establish a career or build a business is too much for one person to handle alone. Enlist the help of friends, family, and paid help to outsource activities that are not the best use of your time. Create a strong support system that strengthens you emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Seek out mentors and communities for professional development through organizations like Women Presidents Organization.
- Honor Your Parents as they Age. We all drag open wounds and battle scars into our adult lives. Women tend to have especially complex relationships with their mothers. You may be who you are because of your parents, or in spite of your parents. Either way, you'll want resolution of any issues with them before they pass away. This closure will eventually be one of the greatest gifts you give to yourself.
- Honor Your Human Limitations. Balance is a myth. It's not possible to co-prioritize all aspects of your life. One thing will always take precedence over another. There will be days, months, or perhaps even years that family obligations will supersede professional aspirations and obligations. Life throws us curveballs that can derail our plans. Accepting the unexpected with as much grace as possible allows us to lean into our reality and adjust our expectations. Permit yourself to "lean out" and pass up opportunities if they come at the expense of your happiness or sanity.
Women have never had so many opportunities to pursue their dreams and step into their greatest potential. We've never been so empowered to write our own stories, rather than to simply live the stories that others have written for us.
These 6 non-negotiable rules ensure we honor all that we have been, all that we are, and all that we dream to be, while helping us to inspire future generations of women to step into their power as well.