Women in the workplace. From salaries to paid family leave to breaking glass ceilings to just trying to balance everything expected of the modern working woman, there are numerous pieces of advice out there.
The New York Times put out a collection of articles this summer called the “Working Woman’s Handbook.” It provides a wide variety of viewpoints, opinions and guidance for women. These pieces provide a lot of different perspectives, ideas and thought-provoking advice, and I definitely recommend checking it out.
Here are a few highlights:
Focus on excellence, not perfection. The adage that you will need to be twice as good as everyone else may be true. Research shows that when you’re the “only one,” you are held to higher standards. That might explain why women often hold themselves to near-impossible standards — in other words: perfection. But that promise of perfection actually makes it more difficult for women to take risks or fail. Try to focus on being "excellent" — not perfect — and let yourself make mistakes. Think of a failure as a guide map for the future, not a stop sign.
Stop glorifying stress. In “girlboss” culture, we often wear harried lifestyles as a badge of honor, as if stress, anxiety and sleeplessness are prerequisites for success. But we do ourselves no favors by normalizing unhealthy work habits. Who are we performing all this stress for, anyway? You can be successful without sacrificing your sanity. Beware of the lies we tell ourselves about busyness. If your calendar stays packed with meetings and social obligations, consider scheduling quarterly check-ins with yourself. Are you O.K.? Are you prioritizing what matters most to you? Are you neglecting aspects of your life that bring you joy? If so, why?
Women face unique challenges when it comes to negotiating, beginning with the fact that we are often viewed as “unlikable” when we do it. Women also have a tendency to underestimate their professional value, and we have been socialized to avoid assertiveness, an essential quality for a successful negotiation. These obstacles make negotiating more difficult, but no less important — which is why you’ve got to be extra prepared.
Most people — misfits or not — experience this sort of vacillation. We think confidence is a requirement to be successful. But instead of focusing on confidence, set your mind to developing your competence — and becoming better at what you do. When there’s a big presentation or a proposal you need to crush, instead of worrying that you’re not confident enough to pull it off, pour yourself into the work itself. Become radically honest about what you still need to learn (and still want to learn) and work toward developing the daily discipline it takes to improve. Becoming really good at what you do will help calm your insecurity and give you a sturdier foundation to help you go after what you want.
There are lots of great articles in this series with interesting advice, perspectives and ideas. Whether you are a woman in the workplace, or are just looking to gather some different perspectives on workplace issues, I’d recommend checking out The New York Times’s Working Woman’s Handbook series.