Holy sh*t we can make our lives difficult when we want to, can’t we? And when I say “we”, I mean women. You. Me. Our besties. Our gal pals. If you feel that this isn’t you, then I suggest you stop reading now before you potentially get offended by my generalisation of our fellow sisters. If you get to the end of this post and you still feel you aren’t ‘one of those women’, then kudos to you, my friend. Seriously. Kudos. You are amazing.
I was having brunch the other day, at a great new spot on Chapel Street, as you do on a Sunday morning. I caught up with two of my girlfriends. Two highly successful, intelligent, beautiful, kind hearted, and professional women. By all accounts I would most definitely put them in the “you totally have your sh*t together in life” category.
It is amazing to me though how often the conversation comes up about work and the same issues arise around our inability to ask for what we want, or what we deserve. Have you ever found yourself in that position? Perhaps you want to ask for that pay rise, ask for some work flexibility, or do a specific course to help develop your skills. Perhaps you are looking for the opportunity to learn more in a certain aspect of your role, or even just to stretch yourself and take on a new project, or sit in on a meeting etc.
Why, why, WHHHHHHHHHHHYYYYYYYY do we get in our own heads so much that we almost convince ourselves of the fact that we either
a) won’t get what we want, so we decide we are better off to just not ask.
b) think we might get it, but only if we are prepared to trade off something in return – so, we mentally prepare to forgo or give up all the things that we’ve already worked hard to earn and think we need to trade off on to get what we want.
I have done this SO many times. Most recently when I asked my boss for some flexibility to focus on this passion project and to develop my research around “Eating your cake too”. I wanted to be able to use a day a fortnight solely to focus on developing my content, my methodologies and to be able to share them with you wonderful people. I knew my work would not suffer, and truth be told I’m still easily kicking a 50-hour work week.
Yet, for some reason, on my path to building up the confidence to ask my boss for this flexibility in work hours, I went in already prepared to give things up before even just asking for what I wanted. I was prepared to give up money, to extend my notice period, to trade off my position in order to gain this small slice of freedom to do my own thing. I even lost sleep over this conversation. I started looking up part time jobs assuming that my boss would say no so I would have to start looking elsewhere for somewhere that would accommodate my passion project. All this nonsense went on before I had even sat down and just asked for what I wanted.
Do you know what happened when I finally did? When I was finally able to articulate what I wanted clearly and concisely? He didn’t even bat an eyelid, and said “Yes, of course”, straight away!
So, why do we do this to ourselves? Overthink. Assume we aren’t worthy of life’s little extras. Agonise over all the reasons why something might get turned down before we have even asked. I am going to throw the gender piece in here and say that for the most part, men don’t have this problem. Men seem to be able to say what they want confidently, and in some cases not even ask, just say this is what they will be doing – the whole “ask for forgiveness, not permission” piece. Sometimes I look at my male colleagues in awe of their ability to just care less about the potential of getting told no – it’s like because they don’t care as much, this subliminal message is put out there, so naturally they get they answer of yes!
How do we solve this dilemma!? This debilitating mindset that we can’t have our cake and eat it too. If I was one of your typical “self-help” blogs I would probably remind you at this point that you’re a BAD-ASS and you can do any thing! However, that isn’t really going to help you now, is it?
You aren’t going to like this, my friend, but what I have now learnt is that you must just give it a go and make yourself a bit uncomfortable. It comes back to being clear on your purpose, what you want, and why (if you missed this blog post, check it out here!) – once you are clear on that, then you will build the confidence to ask for what you want because you genuinely believe in it, AND that you deserve it.
Sometimes you’ll win and sometimes you’ll lose. So far, this year I have put myself out there and asked for three things that I have wanted. Each time the answer has been yes. I would never have done this 18 months ago. Never. I would have just assumed the answer would be no. But, as you continue to put yourself out there, it becomes easier, and you become more confident in your own worth.
Reflect on if you think your requests are reasonable.
Do you think they are fair, researched and not emotionally based?
Would you do the same for someone who asked you?
If you are asking for something that you feel might be a stretch, have you done your research?
Each time you get uncomfortable about asking for something that you want, ask yourself this question:
What is the WORST that could happen? Actually the WORST thing that could come of the request?
If it is anything less than you putting yourself at risk, either physically or mentally, then it has to be worth giving a go, right?
C’mon sister, I dare you and tell me what comes of it. Are you ready to get out of your own way? Book in a free 20 minute coffee chat with me today!
Claire Seeber is a self-proclaimed travel addict, mini-sausage dog mumma, avid blogger, a lover of a good glass of pinot noir and believes a solid belly laugh should be part of your every day.
She is also a professional coach, speaker and People and Culture consultant. Claire started her business in 2017 whilst working full time as General Manager of HR for a large retail business. What she loves the most about the work she does is being able to work with passionate, motivated and courageous people who genuinely want to reach their full potential and are ready to put the hard yards in to get there.