IS IT TIME FOR SOMETHING NEW?

Rethink your personal journey and decide who you want to be

COVID-19 has played havoc with many people’s careers, but it may have been especially detrimental to women. Research shows that working mothers are dropping out of the workforce much faster than working fathers, at least in part because of the pressures of home schooling. One study by McKinsey & Company and Lean In also found that one-fourth of women they surveyed at 317 companies are considering downshifting their careers or leaving the workforce entirely.

As a result, the disruptions 2020 brought could have a long-term impact on women’s careers as well as their family’s finances.

But this shift could be an opportunity for women to rethink their personal journeys and decide who and what they want to be, says Andi Simon, a corporate anthropologist, founder of Simon Associates Management Consultants, and author of the upcoming book Rethink: Smashing the Myths of Women in Business.

“I often say if you want to change, have a crisis or create one,” Simon says. “A crisis forces you to rethink what has always been in your life so you can create new opportunities for your future. As we navigate these uncertain times, women can use them to rethink their own stories and to smash any myths that are holding them back from becoming who they want to become.”

Simon suggests a few steps you can take:

• Tell a story about who you are today
Draw a picture or create a list to show what you love and don’t love; the joys and challenges of your life now; your interests and your dreams. “Put that picture or list where you can see it for a while as a reminder of who you are now,” Simon says.

• Visualize yourself in the future
Think about what will make you become who you believe you can be. “Know what would make you happy and realize how you might be personally fulfilled,” Simon says. This might mean rethinking your priorities when it comes to career, family and lifestyle. “Know what matters to you and how you want your story to develop.”

• Keep a diary
Research shows that people who keep diaries achieve their goals and do so with extraordinary results, far better than those who don’t, Simon says. “That might seem strange, but it is easy enough to try,” she says. “Whether you do it online or on paper, keep your story coming, write it, and re-reread it. Let it help you embrace your new focus and belief that ‘yes, you can.’ ”

• Stop your brain from undermining you
Every time you say, “No, that won’t work,” convert it to a “Yes, that’s a great idea.” “You can manage negative thoughts by simply thinking that you can,” she says.

• Build up your idea bank
Research also shows that the more ideas you have, the more likely it is that you will have “big” ones, Simon says. She recommends writing them down in an idea book. “Try to stay focused on the vision you have for yourself as you build your idea bank,” Simon says.

“Remember that you are writing a new story, so don’t let your brain delete great ideas because they don’t fit into your current story,” Simon says. “Keep saying to yourself, ‘Yes, that’s a great idea.’ Pretty soon, you will achieve the goals that you aspire to all through your life’s journey.”

Andi Simon, Ph.D., author of the upcoming book Rethink: Smashing the Myths of Women in Business, is a corporate anthropologist and founder of Simon Associates Management Consultants.

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