It happened again while I was on a return flight from a conference I had attended. I had taken a seat next to a woman about my age and we struck up a conversation before take-off. We chatted throughout the flight and eventually she asked me what I did for a living. I told her that I helped mid-life women finally take their dreams out into reality and into the marketplace. I continued on that no matter whether they wanted to start a business or write a book, many of the women I worked with had held on to their dreams for a long time and felt unsure about how to realize them.
My seat mate expressed how wonderful that sounded and then said the words I’ve heard many times over my years of working with women – I’ve wanted to write a book for years. (In place of write a book, you could substitute any number of ambitions or dreams.) She then proceeded to outline her vision for the book, to the point of mentioning how she always wanted to write in the style of one of her favorite authors. This woman even had plans for a second book on another topic about which she was passionate.
When I asked her why she had not yet written her books, the reasons for not doing so were among the ones I’ve also heard many times: I’ve been busy taking care of (insert family member here); I wouldn’t know where to begin; I don’t think anyone would actually read my book or buy my product; I worry that my family and friends wouldn’t take me seriously. In other words, what I usually hear when a mid-life woman expresses why she has not taken her idea out into the world is an expression of doubt, fear, a lack of entitlement, a lack of support or guidance, or a lack of belief in herself.
Many mid-life women have a vision, a desire, or a goal but they feel there is a chasm between where they currently are and where they want to be. Many of them can see the realized vision, desire or goal in detail or just have glimpses of it. They can feel it pulling them forward…and yet they find themselves stuck…unable to make the leap, unable to get to the other side. Often times, women think that if you only did something more (learned new techniques or read another book) or had something more (time, money, know-how, connections, a break, luck), they would be able to make the jump into realizing their vision. The truth is that first step to realizing one’s dream is more about mindset than about skill set. And the first step is often about letting go.
In order to take that step out, a woman will have to release something. It may old self-limiting beliefs such as the belief that she has to be the one to make sacrifices, the belief that she isn’t deserving, the belief that she isn’t entitled…that old programming that says who am I to think I can to do this thing I dream of.
It may be that she has to release relationships that hold her back or are toxic. She may have to examine her tendency to over commit and give up those commitments that are not essential. She may have to give up her busy-ness that keeps her from stepping into her greatness. And she may have to give up the comfort of playing small and the fear of taking risks.
It’s easy to say just release old ways of thinking…it’s much harder to do. So when a woman asks me how to overcome old programming, I strongly recommend getting a coach. We all need someone who can see more objectively than we can when it comes to making a big life change. Women most often turn to family and friends when they need someone to talk to, but family and friends usually cannot be objective. They care for us and want to protect us from getting hurt or making what they perceive to be a mistake. So if they don’t get our dream or vision, they might caution us to play it safe. And the truth is, they may also unconsciously not want us to grow and change.
We also need someone to hold us accountable. It’s so easy to go off track despite our good intentions. Life intrudes and the demands others place on us can often take precedence over our wants and needs. Without that accountability, we find ourselves returning to old patterns and old styles of thinking. Getting a coach requires us to stretch beyond our comfort zone, but it is the best investment we will ever make in ourselves and in making our dreams come true.