I’ve worked professionally as a life and business mentor to mom entrepreneurs for the last 13 years. I’m the mother of a 17-, 13- and 10-year-old. I built my business while my husband was on dialysis for five years, and never used the fact that my children were young or that my husband’s health was comprised as an excuse to not honor my goals. Last year my husband had a successful kidney transplant. Through it all, I gave myself permission to do exactly what I wanted including three triathlons, building a successful business, joining a nationally syndicated television show, building a huge national brand, and taking excellent care of my family.
I work with women who have goals that they want to realize, and I support them by creating systems to realize those goals without compromising their quality of life. The one common trait I see among my clients is their need for permission to invest in themselves without excuses. I wanted to share with you five key areas that I see over and over again among women regarding their need for permission to live their best lives.
1. Lack of Role Models — I believe that women need permission because they haven’t experienced enough female role models and mentors who have been unapologetic about their wants, dreams and desires. Instead, many of the women in their lives have made excuses about being successful and accomplishing their goals as a mom. They turn it into a conversation about convenience and waiting their turn — as if success has ever been convenient and the “right time” will simply present itself.
2. Fear of Judgment — Women seek permission, because oftentimes they judge other women when those women have chosen to give a voice to their dreams and acknowledge that motherhood alone will never fill the thirst of self-worth and esteem. The “permission seekers” haven’t learned that surrendering their lives to being a mom and not acknowledging their own “me” in mommy will leave them resentful of their children and spouse, or feeling left behind and clinging to the days when their children were little.
3. Unrealistic Expectations for Themselves — We seek permission because we often say yes to things that our partners never asked of us like putting them and our children on the calendar but leaving ourselves off, all in an effort to keep everyone happy. We live by a list of “shoulds” and “oughts” and in the end question why we never just showed up for ourselves, understanding that our family benefits when we add value to ourselves.
4. Guilt and Shame — We need permission because some of our own mothers guilted and shamed us into believing that “doing it all” is easy, and that we should simply be grateful for our home, healthy children and the dream of happiness. Instead, it would be more beneficial if daughters knew what their mother’s silent struggles were such as putting their lives on hold, or saying yes when they wanted to say no. Instead, some of our mothers felt powerless because no one else expressed their true feelings about being supermom and how unhappy that made them.
5. We Don’t Want to Appear Weak — We seek permission to admit that we are tired after working 40+ hours a week, picking our children up from school, child-care and extracurricular activities, piles of laundry, meals to make, etc. We want someone (anyone) to recognize that we need help like an occasional laundry service, groceries delivered, childcare help, etc. Seeking help shouldn’t make us feel incompetent regardless of how effortlessly and seamlessly some women make it appear.
The happiest mothers I know are the ones who aren’t looking to escape from their lives with a spa appointment, get-away or vacation, but those who have said, “Damn it, I give myself permission to design a life, business and work that I want to come home to and that I deserve!”
The most fulfilled women I know are the ones who have given themselves permission to be vulnerable enough to say they need support, and who have the clarity to ask for exactly what they need without seeking approval from anyone else.
The only way I know to add value to anyone else is by adding value to myself!