When it comes to successful women, they’re kind of all around us. Success — much like beauty — is relative, after all. Every day we’re surrounded by so many successful moms, employers, entrepreneurs, athletes and artists that it can actually be a little overwhelming to think about.
And what better day to celebrate them than on Tuesday, March 8, a.k.a. International Women’s Day?
TD Bank certainly thought so, and has come out with a “Women at Work” guide — a 52-page document to share what successful working women do in order to be successful. Sure, this is only one type of “success,” but there are some great tips to be found within. Don’t have time for 52 pages? Boy, do we get you. With no further ado, the highlights:
1. Communicate what you want
Know those job interviews where they ask you where you want to be in five years? Turns out that question is just as much for you as it is for your prospective employer. Having a tangible game plan that you can convey to your current workplace, partner and family is key to moving up and actually getting what you want. Be sure to come back to your game plan often, and reassess when necessary.
2. Educate yourself
Post-secondary school may not be for everyone, but attempting to arm yourself with all the right tools as early on as possible makes sense. Not only that, but it’s important to remember that when it comes to learning, you’re never too old. Sign up for courses or take seminars that will have a direct influence on your potential career path, and you won’t regret it.
3. Save for the unexpected
Sure, you want the big house, nice car and some topped off RSP and TFSA accounts. But it’s equally important to save for the things in life you can’t predict: layoffs, emergencies and illness among them. If you’re already putting away for a rainy day before the skies open up into a thunderstorm, you’re already ahead.
4. Get a business sense
We get it — for some people it’s hard to wrap your head around the business side of things, especially if you’re a creative type. But a key part of success is not only looking for opportunities to develop your business sense through like-minded people or courses, but to also surround yourself with people who can help you when you need to tread some of the tougher waters.
5. Know what a career break truly means for you
Many, many women will take a break from their career at least once in their lives, whether for personal reasons (maternity leave, stress leave) or professional reasons (a tough boss, reassessing your path). Whatever your reason, if you do decide a break is in order, be sure to evaluate what it will take to get you back to where you were pre-break, and develop a plan to get you there. It will make your future transition a little easier, and a heck of a lot less stressful.
6. Say goodbye to guilt
Women seem genetically predisposed to do it all, don’t they? But guess what — they can’t. So there’s no good reason to feel guilty about it. Balancing personal and professional lives is hard, but being hard on yourself doesn’t help. Instead focus on the positives in life. The awesome cookies you picked up for the bake sale, or the merger you just closed. When in doubt just remember, positivity is key.
7. Take risks
Playing it safe never got anyone anywhere. When it comes to life, love and money, sometimes a little risky business is in order. That doesn’t mean gambling everything away, mind you. It means taking a good, hard look at the pros and cons before deciding what’s actually worth a little risk and what opportunities are better to skip in the long run.
8. Get a mentor
There is perhaps no better resource than someone who’s been there. That’s why it’s so important that every female professional find a mentor — male or female — who can help guide them along the way. Equally important though is finding someone to mentee along the way. It’s the circle of business life.
9. Put yourself out there
Networking functions can be quite a snore, but they’re oh-so-important when it comes to developing contacts and surrounding yourself with a strong group of people who can help you in your career. Take them seriously and don’t just cozy up to a martini in the corner. Remember, everyone else is there for the same reasons you are.
10. Leave a legacy
What kind of legacy do you want to leave when you retire? It’s an important question to consider because it’s kind of the be-all, end-all question in terms of your career path. Sure, it can change as you move along in your goals and aspirations, but identifying and revisiting it often is a key component to achieving your success. After all, who doesn’t want to feel like they’ve left some sort of mark on this world by the time they leave it?