On-Demand: Helping Women Achieve Success On Their Terms
October 27, 2020
The Women of EisnerAmper of New Jersey was joined by Sharon List, Professional Coach and Founder of All Inclusive You, for a discussion designed to help women achieve personal and professional success.
Miri Forster:Thanks Carolyn. So my name's Miri Forster, and I'm a principal and co-leader of the tax controversy practice at EisnerAmper. And I'm also delighted, and I'm so appreciative to be here together with this impressive group of over 100 professional women. So thanks for sharing your morning with us today. Special thanks to New Jersey office, managing partner Diane Wasser, and to the entire women of EisnerAmper steering committee for all your support. And I also want to extend a thank you to the New Jersey Network to Network consortium that we've collaborated with. Network to Network or we call it N2N is a New Jersey based consortium of women leaders from some of the state's most prestigious companies. And it provides a forum for women, whether they're early in their career or in senior leadership roles to connect, share knowledge, and build lasting relationships. If you're interested in learning more about Network to Network, feel free to reach out to me or any of the end-to-end committee members that you may meet today.
And finally, I want to introduce our guest of honor Sharon List who we're thrilled to have with us. Sharon is a speaker, a coach, and founder of All Inclusive You, LLC, which is dedicated to helping working women achieve their definition of work-life success without all the guilt, the stress, or the emotional overwhelm. Her passion for helping others as well as her 16 years in corporate as a high-performing accountant with a family and a very full life led to her progression as a speaker and a coach. So now Sharon's committed to helping others achieve work-life success on their terms in order to improve quality of life and career. So to borrow one of Sharon's taglines let's get started so you can enjoy the life you're working so hard for. Thanks again for joining us today. On to Sharon.
Sharon List:Thank you so much Miri and Carolyn and to the women of EisnerAmper. I'm really excited to be here today. And thank you to all of you who are participating, I appreciate your time. I know your time is valuable. And so I am going to bring you through my message and make this time as impactful to you as I possibly can. So to get the most out of today's presentation, I'll have some polling questions that will come up on your screen, so please participate. It's really helpful for not only me, but to everyone else to kind of see where we're all at in this period of time. There's also a workbook that will help lead you through the five-step framework that I'm going to present to you today. And it was attached to the email reminder that was sent to you last evening. It's also available for download in the resources widget, which you can see on your screen.
So you can print it out if you have a printer. If not, it is PDF readable, so you can type into it. We won't have time to complete all the exercises today. But the more that you participate and actually work in the workbook, the more that you're going to get out of today's presentation. And feel free to ask questions in the Q&A widget, and I will answer them at the end of the presentation or if you're having any difficulties, Lexi and the team will help you as we go through. So with that, I would love to start with our first polling question. And this is just to get an idea of who's in the audience. So, currently, what is your biggest challenge? You're balancing work and your career aspirations, and what else? Is it balancing work and children, balancing work and being a caregiver to your parent or another adult? Is it balancing work and having enough time to connect with friends and family or balancing work and having enough time to take care of your own health and hobbies?
And I recognize for some people it might be all four or at least three of these, but I want to know really what's your biggest challenge. So I'm going to give everyone a couple minutes to participate and fill that in. And I think it's good for you to reflect and really think about, man, what is really taking up your bandwidth right now? I can tell you for me, it's a combination of balancing work with the children and having enough time to take care of my own health and hobbies. But I'm committed to taking care of my own health and hobbies, so doing as best I can like we all are. So I'm going to give just another couple seconds here to let everyone really think through and submit their answers. I'm going to go ahead. I appreciate you guys submitting. And if you're still submitting, you can go ahead. And let's see where we're at.
So 36% are really struggling with balancing work and the children, another 34% balancing work and having enough time to take care of your own health and hobbies. But we have caregivers; we have people that cannot find the time to connect with friends and family. And I definitely understand that. So we will talk about how to better manage this and how we prioritize these things. So moving on, we have one more polling question right now and then we'll jump into it. So if you had to choose one, and I know there are probably other feelings you might be having right now. But if you had to choose that we have here as an option, what one word sums up how you're feeling right now? Are you happy, excited, stressed, overwhelmed, tired, you're feeling anxious, are you feeling calm? Are you feeling disinterested or disengaged? Are you feeling scattered? Are you feeling hopeful?
So go ahead and choose, choose one word that really sums up how you're feeling right now. I know for most of us it's relatively early in the morning, so some of you might be feeling tired. I'm a combination of a little bit excited, a little bit anxious. I'm always like this with presentations. I'm super excited to share my message and help others. So I see you guys submitting, which I appreciate. So let's give you guys another minute to really pick one of these. And I like you to think about it because I really want you during today's workshop to keep tapping into who you are now. We're so distracted with everything around us because we are busy. And so this time right now, this time this morning is to really concentrate on you. How are you feeling? What do you want?
When I'm looking at the percentages, I'm seeing a majority here in the overwhelmed, tired, and anxious column. And I love seeing the happy and hopeful. No one is excited or calm, which is a little bit concerning. Unfortunately, this is what I'm seeing as I'm talking to women, as I'm presenting. We are just in an unprecedented, and I hate that word because it's overused right now. But we're really in a time where there's so much coming at us from so many different angles that the people I'm talking to feel stressed, anxious, exhausted. And there's a reason why you feel this way. When I talk to women, I hear them say all the time that I want to be successful. I'm working hard, I really want to be successful in my career, I want to be successful in my life.
And I just don't have enough hours in the day to get everything done that I want to get done. And I'm not even sure if I'm spending my time on the right activities to be successful. And there's a reason why you feel this way and it's because you're not putting yourself first. What do I mean by that? What I mean is that you are saying yes to a lot of other people around you, including people at your job, including your family, including your friends and needs are either at the bottom of your to-do list or they're not on your to-do list at all. The issue with that is that if you don't start putting your needs first, you risk losing everything that you're working so hard for.
I know that can sound dramatic, but I know because I have been there. I am a perfectionist or at least I was, I'm still working on it. I was very ego-driven, and I was very sure of my capabilities to do it all. So a little bit about me, I am a CPA. I went to Rutgers Business School, I came out and went to a firm. Spent the majority of my 16 years in corporate in the pharma industry in New Jersey working my way up the ladder. And I had just had this vision, like I'm a CPA and the only way to be successful with CPA if you don't stay at a firm is to become a CFO.
And so I had this idea that that was the only way for me to be successful. So I never really decided that I necessarily want to be, felt like I had to be because of this external validation that I was seeking. So my two sons. I live in New Jersey, I'm married, I have two sons, they're six and eight years old right now. But back when they were just turning two and four, they were little, I was extremely motivated to keep getting up close to that CFO title. And I took a job for a public company reporting to the CFO, and this is going to be my ticket. This is going to be my ticket to the top, I was going to learn and strive and do everything. And so I had a big team, I had a lot of demanding responsibilities at work. And children were very young, and I had a lot of stuff going on at home.
And I just didn't know how to ask for help or ask for what I needed. And so every time that something wasn't going well, I would just sacrifice sleep, stay up later, do more, and push forward. And it got to the point where I was barely sleeping, I was anxious all the time. The lack of sleep was causing me to go into work and make mistakes, which then added to anxiety. And I was coming home and I was just a miserable person to be around. And so I specifically remember one incident at work. Our auditors were there, and I showed up with my makeup on, my high heels on and showing this perfectionist view that I have it all together, that I can do at all. They were demanding things that I knew I couldn't possibly get done in a week's time, but I said, yes, yes, yes.
And I remember walking into the room from that meeting and just the tears were streaming down my face. I was so stressed, I was so overwhelmed. And yet, I just did not know how to ask for help. Around that same time, I remember picking my boys up from daycare. Again, they were very young; they were barely two and four. And they just wanted to show me the little artwork that they did at daycare, and I just couldn't be bothered. I had stuff to do, I had to feed them, get them to bed, I had to get back online. So we rushed through dinner, and I was putting them to bed. And they were fussing, they were little, and I just screamed at them. And I screamed at them in a voice that I barely recognize myself because I was so on the edge. And after that, they did not want me to put them to bed, they asked for my husband every night for months, that hurt.
And it wasn't very long after that, maybe, I don't know, a week or two, my husband, Jim, he just looked at me and he was like, "Sharon, honestly, if you're going to be this miserable you should just leave." And so here I was, I had worked so hard for my marriage and to have this family, and I was literally on the brink of losing it all. And so I quit my job. And I know that that is not an option for most of you on this call nor is that what you want to do. And I'm here talking to you because that is not what I'm recommending. I'm here to share my message so that you never get to the point of burnout that I was at where that felt like it was my only choice. But my husband and I looked at our budget, figured out that I could not work for six months. And so I left this role that I had worked so hard for all because I couldn't figure out what I wanted or how to ask for help.
And so during that time off, I saw this quote, you can't pour from an empty cup, take care of yourself. And it really resonated with me because even though I didn't feel comfortable to put myself first, I knew that I was empty, I also knew that what I was doing wasn't working. And so I started really putting my needs first, which meant that I slept when I was tired, I ate when I was hungry. And miraculously, the rest of the world kept moving. I started taking care of my health, I started going on walks every single day to process some of the feelings and thoughts and get in touch with what it was that I really wanted to do next. And I started reading a lot of books, every one of books on success and your next career move and all those types of things.
And every book I read said the same thing. If you want to be successful, you need to be really clear on what's most important to you and let go of everything else. You need to take care of yourself by taking care of your needs and by taking care of what's most important to you. And so I spent a lot of time doing that. During that time, I decided that I didn't necessarily want to spend my life in accounting. And I chose to take on a career helping other women not reach the point of burnout that I was at so that they could take care of themselves and therefore achieve their definition of success.
Since I've been doing this, I can tell you that my life is a thousand times better. But it is not perfect, and I'm not going to sit here and tell you that I have a screen-free household because I do not. But I can promise you that it's a lot less yelling, a lot less impatience. And the other day I overheard my oldest son who's now eight FaceTiming with his grandmother, my mother. And he was telling her, "Grandma, I'm glad that we have remote school and we don't have to go back because I'm really enjoying my time with mom." And he said with me, with mom not with my husband. And so it just felt good. And my husband and I were joking the other day about the fact that we think we might be coming anti-social, we're actually enjoying our time together. And because of the pandemic, we haven't been able to see a lot of friends and family who we maybe used to, we haven't done as many activities. And we're kind of okay with that.
And I can't tell you how different that is from where we were just five or six years ago. So this works if you're willing to do it, but I know that it's hard to do what this quote says, I know it's hard. We're socialized to believe that in order to be successful, we truly have to do what's asked of us, right? So we say yes to our colleagues and to our boss because that's what a good employee does. And we say yes to our family because that's what a good parent or spouse or daughter or son does. And we say yes to our friends because that's what a good friend does. And we say yes to all these people, and we say yes to all these things because we truly believe that if we can just get to the bottom of our to-do list, if we could just check all these things off, there's this amazing life waiting for us, right?
We're going to have fulfilling relationships and a career that we're passionate about and financial freedoms. And we'll have these things that we want if we could just get through this quarter end, if we could just get through this behind deadline, if we could just get through the holidays, if we could just get through this pandemic. And the truth is there is no amazing life waiting for you at the end of your to-do list because there is no end to your to-do list. The day that your to-do list is over is the day that you leave this earth. Your life is now.
And in order for you to go from just surviving and going through the motions to truly thriving and enjoying your life, you need to take this quote to heart and really get clear on your needs and put them first. I recognize this is a lot easier said than done. And so I'm going to take you through these five steps that will make it easier and more clear. So step one is raising awareness and really defining what success means for you in all areas of your life. And we'll go through this step quickly, and then we'll spend more time at the end of the workshop where you're going to really start writing your workbook. Step two is removing obstacles that are in your way. Step three is realizing your strengths, not only what you're good at, but your strength and power of choice. Step four is reclaiming your joy and bring back those things in your life that give you energy and make you happy. And step five is actually reaching your goal.
So step one, raising awareness. This is where we're really going to define what success means to you in all areas of your life. And like I mentioned, we're going to return to this step at the end of the workshop to spend more time on it because I want you to see how the five steps play out together. But the most important piece about this is tapping into what actually resonates with you. So not what society says success is, not what your employer says it is, not what your mother-in-law or your friends or your parents think it is, but truly what feels good to you. And the reason why we need to get really clear on this definition of success is so that we can each create our own life vision. And so I'm going to share with you my life vision so that you get an idea of what we're striving to create here.
It's going to be five or six bullet points that are rather broad. These are not smart goals, these are not specific. These are directional statements that are going to say that if you were 80-years-old, 90-years-old and you're looking back on your life and you were to say, "Oh, I had such a successful and fulfilling life, I've got to." And for me, that is, I got to spend time with an active, healthy lifestyle spending time in nature. And this is truly my life vision that I'm sharing with you. I want to raise my boys to be Global Citizens through travel and hands-on experiences. I want my sons to know that there are people that look, live, and love very differently than we do. And I want them to understand that and respect that. I want to empower other women to put themselves first so that they can have a positive impact on themselves and everyone around them. I want meaningful, connected relationships, I want to give back in a meaningful way. And I want financial independence, which for me means that I always have the ability to earn enough money that if I had to, I could support myself and my sons on my own. This is my life vision, this is what's important to me. And every person on this life vision will look very, very different. There is enough room in this world for all of our visions of success. But the reason why this is so important to get clear on is because this is a tool that you can then use to figure out what do you say yes to in life, and what do you say no to? And so as I move on to step two, removing obstacles, this is where you're going to actually compare to-do list and all the things that take up your time and energy right now to your life vision and see what lines up.
And so there is a page in your workbook where you can start listing out your to-do list. And you don't have to do it right now, but you can go back to it, but this is really important. Once you define what success means to you, look at what you're doing and figure out what's supporting your defined success? What's neutral to it, maybe it's not really in the way but it's not really supporting it? And what's direct opposition to your success? And for those things in direct opposition, you need to stop doing them. And so either you can remove those immediately. You might need to communicate new expectations or delegate things, or it might take longer. You might have to really put together a three-year plan, a five-year plan to remove something from your life. That's okay, the point is that you're moving towards your definition of success.
I know all of you are probably doing something right now, meaning like today or tomorrow that doesn't support your success. And so I want to challenge you to really find one thing that you can remove for a week. For some people, it might be removing social media or negative self-talk or binge-watching Netflix. There's something that you're doing that doesn't support the success that you want. But in addition to some of those tangible things, there are also obstacles that are mindsets. I call these obstacles that steal joy, perfectionism, guilt, self-doubt, obligation, ego, and comparison. I shared with you my two largest obstacles were professionalism and ego. I wanted to show everyone that I had everything under control, so I wanted people to think I was perfect. So that was the vision that I sent out to the world even if it wasn't true. And my ego brought me all the time.
If you told me that I was really good at something and I should lead a project like an SAP implementation, even though I didn't like SAP, I didn't want to sit behind the scenes and code GL codings. If you told me I was good at it, I would say yes. And the ego would come in and then I would be miserable for the next seven months in my life because I said yes to a project. Not because it actually met any of my own definitions of success, but because I wanted to be valued. I love this sign over here, done is better than perfect. And I have to remind myself of that over and over, and over again every day.
And I want to be clear, there's a difference between excellence and perfectionism. There's a certain amount of excellence that might be expected in our careers and in our life. That's okay. But perfectionism is something different. And we all know that that's when it's making us feel better, it's not really required. So I want to know if you had to think about these mindset obstacles, which one of these is your biggest challenge? And again, there might be more than one. But on this polling question, I really want to understand better. What do you struggle the most with, your perfectionism, your guilt, your obligation, your ego, or comparison? And comparison's a big one, emphasizing even more so because of social media. So I just want to give everyone a minute here. I really enjoy seeing people's obstacles. And I think it's also helpful to the group to see if there's a lot of people struggling with what we're struggling with, if there's only a few people struggling with it.
So there were some of the results there, I think we went back to the poll. But I'm going to give everyone just another minute to keep answering. This is not surprising to me. So we have people in all categories, which makes a lot of sense. And I will say that when I was doing this workshop in person, not always, but most times perfectionism or guilt came in as number one. And since this pandemic, and I've been doing this virtually, every single workshop, self-doubt has come out on top. And this makes a lot of sense. We are in a period of time where nothing feels stable. And even pre-pandemic, there's a lot of this feeling of the imposter syndrome and being unsure. And so I want to share with you that I presented this workshop to a group of CEOs and high-level employees only a couple of weeks ago. And one of the gentlemen on the call was in his late 60s, has been around the block, has seen a lot of things, and spent most of his career coaching other CEOs, mostly men.
And he said when this came up that self-doubt is the one thing that makes a leader a leader. Meaning that he has never met a leader that doesn't have some self doubt. Which was interesting for me because I feel like we talk about this imposter syndrome a lot amongst groups of women, but it became very clear that this happens at all levels whether you're female or male no matter what industry you're in. And the way to get around is to really just connect, recognize that you are not the only one downing yourself. Find that person that you can talk it through with and just connect with one other person to really understand. And it's not because they're going to give you the answer, but just saying it out loud and recognizing that you have what you need. You are smart, you are qualified. Nobody knows all the answers, but you need to believe in yourself, move forward. And it's either going to work out or it's not and you're going to learn from those mistakes.
But the amount of energy that you waste in this back and forth over and over again is just depleting you. And that energy is so much better when used on other things to support your success. When it comes to perfectionism, perfectionists actually get a lot less done because you're wasting so much time and energy on perfecting it instead of just completing it. And guilt is really difficult to deal with also. But the whole purpose of creating your life vision is so that you have a justification to say yes to some things and no to other things. You don't have to feel guilty about saying no to something. You are just recognizing that this doesn't support your definition of success, and that's okay.
And obligation is tough too, but you bring an entirely different level of energy to the table when you feel obligated to do something versus when you want to do something. I recognize, yes, some things we have to do for work or whatever that is. But the more that you get really clear on what's important to you and you start speaking about your life vision, the easier it becomes for you to say in a polite way, no, thank you. And you move on, and you don't do as much. So now that we've covered steps one and two, raising your awareness and define your success as well as removing your obstacles, we get to step three, realizing your strength.
This is not only recognizing what you're good at because you're good at so much, but this is really recognizing that you have the power of choice. You are strong, you have the power to set boundaries. You have the power to say no, and you have the power to ask for what you need. I love this quote here, and I truly believe it. You're a group of amazing women. You can do anything, but you can't do everything. And you definitely can't do everything at the same time, you have to prioritize. And part of that prioritization is letting other people know your boundaries. So I'll give you an example of how this played out in my own life.
As I mentioned, I left my corporate job and I wanted to figure out what it was I wanted to do next. And while I decided that I wanted to start a company to help other women, I'm also practical, I wanted to save a little more money. And so I did go back to work for over a year as a controller for a slightly smaller nonpublic organization. The agreement was I would work Monday through Thursday and I would have Fridays off. So it was part-time but not entirely part-time. And during that time within the first couple of weeks, I got a request on my Friday, on my day off, I got a text. And as I was pulling my laptop out to open it and log in, I was like, "No, I need to walk my talk if I'm going to help other women do this, and I need to be able to set my own boundaries too."
And so I texted back and I asked a couple of questions about what it was that they needed, and just that, yeah, I can get it to you by Monday close of business. And they were like, "Okay." And meanwhile, I was very uncomfortable, pushing back, asking this. But their response was that, okay. So this happened a couple of more times. And every time the response is pretty much like, yeah, all right, sounds good. Get it to me Monday, get it to me Tuesday, whatever it is. And two months into this role, again, I was the controller, I went into my first board meeting. The board was all men, I was the only female on the management team. And I went to this board meeting and they voted to make me their acting CFO.
So here I was clear on what I wanted, taking care of myself, enforcing my boundaries. And this group of men wanted to promote me to the title that was elusive to me when I was doing everything for everyone else and I was unable to set my boundaries. But it makes sense because people respect people that respect themselves. And the flip side of that coin is that I delivered. So if I told them on Friday that I would get it to them Monday close of business. When I showed up on Monday, I was energized, I was focused, and I got it done. And it's so much easier to get stuff done when you're not coming in exhausted or resentful because you're super annoyed that you worked on your day off.
But the thing is you are amazing, like I said. Of course, people are going to want more from you, and they're going to keep asking and asking, and asking of you. It's not their job to know that you're at your wit's end, it's not their job to know that you might fall over from exhaustion. They don't know that. You have the responsibility to set that boundary and let other people know. So this stuff is extremely important. I love this question, and this is extremely helpful in this step three for yourself. It's also really helpful if you're a people leader, so if you have a team. And the question is, if I say yes to this, what am I saying no to?
And so if I say yes to this thing you just asked me to do, am I saying no to my health, my family, am I saying no to something else that's important to my career, am I saying no to our relationship, my finances, my community? And this is, like I said, really important for you individually. But the way this is important on a team is let's say you have a team of high achievers also. And so now there's this new initiative and you ask someone else, and they're like, "Yes," immediately. It's helpful to say, "Great, now that you're doing this, what are you going to say no to to get this done?"
And asking your team members to really think through that and having maybe a two-minute conversation is going to help you understand, what are they de prioritizing so that you're on the same page, then else something else might not be getting done quite as timely as you thought. But it also helps you recognize if their plate is too full. And while I know I just told you it's your responsibility, the truth is as a team leader, we can help others figure this out. Because if they can't figure out what they're saying no to to do this, then we're not sure if it's really going to get done.
So what I'd like to do right now is I want you to really think about the boundary that you want set or something that you want to ask for. And you can type your answer into the Q&A widget. I will be able to see your responses, but the other attendees will not. So you don't have to worry about your name being attached to it or anything like that. And I'll just generically read them out loud. But the reason why I want you to put it in the widget is because I really want you to think about this, what's a boundary that you need to set right now in order to achieve success and feel better?
And so I'm looking in the widgets, not seeing any yet. And I know people might be multitasking or doing other things, and I totally get that. But this is time that you've already committed to set aside for yourself, and so I want you to really spend this on yourself. What is something that you want to set. Servicing space that's yours, not working on weekends, stop assigning high visibility projects to this person so that other things can get done, work done. Asking for more help from your husband with the kids on their schoolwork and their schedule, that's a huge one. Don't want to work later than 5:30, reduce the hours I'm spending on work. No emails after 6:00 PM, need to better separate work and home, especially since we're working at home desk. Yes, that is huge. Putting the cell phone away at dinner time, carving out time in the day to just step away for a few minutes. Making time for daily exercise, stop working when it's already after hours, making time to be an entrepreneur and do the things I want to do.
Getting my kids to pitch in more, I love that one. Making time every day to move for at least half an hour. So these are all amazing, and keep typing them in. Stop accepting and agreeing to short turnaround times, making time for exercise and health, spending time on yourself, no work emails are made on the weekends. And so I'm reading these off, one, for you to realize that we all, so some of us have similar ones, but that we all have something in our life that we can do a better job of setting a boundary on. And when you're thinking about that boundary, I want you to also think about who you might have to ask for to help you with that, whether it's a colleague, someone in your family. You want to put yourself first. Stop thinking about how to rebuild 24/7, set boundaries around your role at work. These are all really, really important boundaries to set.
And so I want you to keep thinking about it. I'm going to move on, but it doesn't mean that you can't keep typing into the Q&A box. So please keep doing it. And write it down for yourself as well because I want this to be something that you carry forward after today's presentation. And I want you to answer this polling question. When you think about that boundary, what is the stress that you feel when you're trying to enforce that? Because the reason why we're not good at it is because something gets in the way, there's resistance there. Is it your fear of missing out or being left out of something? Is it anxiety about what the consequences will be? Is it conflict avoidance, you just really don't want to confront someone so you're just not going to bother saying it? Is it sacrifice, my needs can come later?
I'm hoping if you've got nothing else out of this presentation, you recognize that your needs can not come later, that eventually you will have to pay for what you sacrificed, and it will come in the form of your health or your relationships. Is it hopelessness, you don't think it's going to help anyway, you've already tried? Is it superiority, you're the one that can do it right, so you might as well just do it yourself? Is it ego/martyr, I need to do this because I need to be seen and valued? Or is it none, I have no difficulty setting boundaries or asking for what I need?
So I'm going to give everyone another minute to respond. But I want you to really think about what that stress is because the more that you, again, raise awareness of yourself and what it is that stopping you, it becomes visible. It's not this invisible ghost tripping us up, now we're aware of it, now we can do something about it and address it. And so I know some of you are still responding. But in the interest of time, I just want to see here where we're coming in. So a lot of you are feeling the anxiety of what the consequence will be or the conflict avoidance or the sacrifice. So again, think about this and find a way to make it visible enough that you know that you can address it.
So once you define your success, you remove some obstacles and you set some healthy boundaries, you create this tiny bit of space. And it brings us to step four, which is reclaim your joy, create space to bring something back into your life that gives you energy and joy. And so I want you all to think about something that's really important to you, that makes you happy, that energizes you, that brings you joy. And I want you to schedule that into your calendar with the same amount of integrity and importance that you schedule meetings with your boss or things for your family. And this is really important not just for yourself, but because positivity is contagious, but so is negativity.
We all know that person at work that's just miserable to be around and no one wants to be around them. When you do something to make yourself feel better, that positivity is contagious to everyone in your family, in your friends, in your community, and at work. And it's really important to do that. I love this quote, you often feel tired not because you've done too much, but because you've done too little of what sparks the light in you. And while I do believe that we actually are doing too much these days, I also believe that so many times we feel exhausted and depleted because we're just not filling with things that bring us joy. What is that thing that lights a spark in you?
And so I want you to think about it on your own. In interest of time, I'm not going to have you write it into the Q&A chat. But again, I want you to write down this paper in front of you, we're in the workload, what is something that energizes you and brings you joy? And how can you schedule that for at least this week? Open your calendar and put it in your calendar and make it happen.
And so after we go through these steps, we arrive at step five, which is really reaching your goals. Organizations start with smart goals, right? They start with this idea of defining your goals. And that makes sense because its an organization not a person. I could just kill it, I could achieve my goals no matter what. But the problem was what's here in this quote. If the ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step we take just gets us to the wrong place faster. Before we can set those smart goals and take those little steps to get where we want to go, we have to know where we want to go. And so this brings us back to step one, which is what I had mentioned, that I want you to really open up the workbook that you have. If you don't have it in front of you, don't worry about it, just have a blank piece of paper.
And I want you to really start jotting down, and if you don't have time to do all of these, at least in one of these areas. What does it mean to you for your health? And this is your physical, mental, and emotional health. For some people, this is to run a marathon or to be able to stay active enough to keep up with their kids or their grandkids. For some people, it might be to get off of a lifelong medication or to better manage their anxiety or depression. There is no right or wrong in any of these, but this is truly tapping into what does success really mean to you in this area?
So go ahead. Again, I want you to take this time for you, I want you to write some of these down. So in your family, for some people is to have a big family with an open door policy. For others, it might be to never speak to their family of origin again, and hat's okay. Again, there's no right or wrong, there's just what energizes and feels good to you. For your career. Is it having a certain title or having a certain impact? Is it a certain award or publication? Is it having a certain mental flexibility? What does a successful career mean to you?
So again, I know we won't have time to dive into all of these deeply, but I want you to start jotting down at least some of these. Relationships. For me, it's meaningful, connected relationships. I just don't get the same thing out of small, insignificant chat anymore. I want to have a real relationship with someone and know something meaningful about them. Finances, what does success mean to you in this area? Is it to retire at a certain age, to get out of debt, to have a vacation home, to put your kids through school? There's different definitions for every single person. And your community, this could be the community that you physically geographically live in, this could be your community of faith, this could be a sport or a hobby that you're involved in. This could be an online community that you're part of. But who do you want to be in that community? Do you want to be a leader? Do you want to be contributor? Do you want to be anonymous?
There's no right or wrong, there's just what's important to you. And so I want you to keep thinking through this, but I want to show you a quick example of how this works in my life. This is my actual life vision, which I presented before. And giving back in a meaningful way is really important to me. And so I have chosen my local YMCA. So I sit on the board and I volunteer for two events a year, the touch shot and the golf outing, which sadly, neither of them happened this year for obvious reasons. But the reason I volunteer for those two events is because they're outdoors and that hits my number one vision point. Also, the touch shot is a race for children. And so I get to do that with my sons and I get to show them a hands-on experience of this is what it means to give back and raise money.
I also, since I sit on the board, see how much money other people give, other board members, and I see how many activities they do. And every once in a while, my perfectionism, my guilt and my ego come back up and I say, "Oh, I should be contributing more or maybe I should be signing on for more volunteer events." But the truth is I don't want to send the four hours checking people in, see the blood drive on a Saturday morning because I want to spend time with my family. And so I come back to my life vision, and I don't feel guilty about not doing that. So again, this vision that you're going to create not only helps you make choices that support your vision, but it also helps reduce the guilt that you're going to feel every once in a while because these things just come at us.
Because again, it doesn't support my vision of success. There are many amazing organizations out there that I can give money to. But the reason why I choose my Y is because it's local. I sit on the board and I see these individuals in my supermarket and on my main street. I work out at the Y when it is open. So I'm developing meaningful, connected relationships with these individuals. And the more that I keep my light vision visible, and I mean this when I say this, mine is printed out, and I look at it every day. I start talking in these terms and it becomes easier for me to do activities that support my definition of success, and it becomes easier to let go of things that don't. And so I hope that example is helpful and you're recognizing not just the importance of creating your vision, but how this can work as a tool for you.
And so I think the most important thing from today is in order to make any improvement, in order to take these five steps and do some things, you have to take at least one action, one small step because if nothing changes, nothing changes. So define your success, keep working in the workbook, ask for what you need even if it feels uncomfortable, invest in your network. I know we're moving to a networking group immediately following this, and I'm really excited about that. Enlist accountability, this is hard. I love this quote that I have here from Brene Brown. We don't have to do all of it alone, we were never meant to. The most successful and happiest people I know are clear on what they want. They have no problem asking for help, and they invest in their network.
I offer a free strategy call to anyone who attends any of my workshops, and I will send that information to you after this workshop. Because if you are really stuck and you're not sure what to do next, that can be your one step. I can help you figure out how to enlist accountability or build consistency into your schedule and use the resources that you have available to you. But this is really important. This will be in the PDF side that I will send all of you so you'll have all this information, you'll have these slides and information to connect with me and to schedule this strategy call if you're interested. And these are also resources that you'll get, here's a list of some of the books that I read during that time off that were extremely impactful to me.
And this is just a little something that you could print out and put by your desk when you get the sides. This is really especially right now in this pandemic, this concept of just focusing on your effort, let go of the outcome and all the things that you can't control, focus on your effort, focus on your definition of success, focus on your vision and what you can control. And if you do that and let go of what you can't control, you’re not only going to be happier, but you're going to have a lot more energy left at the end of the day. And so with that, I know I went through that kind of quickly and there was a lot that I put out there. And so I'd love to answer any questions that you might have.
And so there is one question that I see here in the Q&A box, how do I stop feeling guilty about the pandemic has required my partner and I to lay off many employees who are not financially sound? That is a really hard. But what I will say is I think that this goes back to this, you cannot control when this pandemic came, you cannot control that you are not able to bring in as much money so that you cannot keep these people employed. What you can control is keeping your business afloat. And so you've had to make these really tough decisions. But maybe there some other things that you can control, maybe you can help point them in a direction that they can either start looking for other employment.
You can be a reference for them if they can find something else. You can encourage them, tell them the things that they did good, share with them their strengths that you feel that they're really good at so that they can feel good about themselves as they move forward in the world. And just remember that guilt is a wasted emotion, it's not changing anything. It's not helping you, and it's not helping them. And so really focusing on what small things can you control, what can you do to release some of that guilt and realize that it's not your fault.
I have one more question in here. Recently, I hit a low point that bubbled over and I said something that was overheard by a customer that was upset, how do I forgive myself? Because we're human. And I laugh and I'm making light of it. And I don't mean to because I know that this is important to you. But we're all human, nobody gets through this life without making mistakes or saying the wrong thing. And so it's really about the fact that you have to forgive yourself and move on. And you can do that by accepting the learnings from the experience. When you say you hit a little point, what was it that drove you to that? Was it lack of sleep, the stress of the world? I'm sure there were many things.
So recognizing what got you into that state, trying to do things in your control to not reach that state again. Can I get more sleep? Can I take a deep breath when I start to feel this feeling inside of me that I'm starting to lose control? And then recognizing that you're going to do better as you move forward and that is the best any of us can do. We are doing our best every day and day-to-day, minute to minute, our best is different. Some days we're operating up here and just killing it, and other days we're operating way down here and that is the best we can do. And that's okay. And so really recognizing that if you known who this customer is and you can find them, you can also apologize. But if that's an option, I would say, move on and put your energy towards what you can do next time to not get to that low point and to help yourself before we reach the point of just stuff flying out of your mouth.
I've been there, I've done it, I've had to apologize. And I've realized that the longer I ruminate about it and keep staying in that little point, it's depleting my energy and causing possibly another one of these episodes to happen because I'm feeling so bad about myself. The best thing you can do is start feeling good about yourself again, focus on all your strong points, all the amazing things you do, and really go from there. And I see one more that I'll address quickly that says I'm finding it hard to figure out what really makes me happy. This happened to me, and I will tell you that it took me a long time to peel back the layers and come up with my life vision.
And so while I know I've represented here that we're going to work on it, this actually took me months of going on those long walks to even think about it because I was so socialized to feel from an external validation perspective what I should be instead of what I wanted. And what I would say is really setting aside that time, meditation can really help. And I will say this that if you are not able to find joy in anything, it is possible that asking for help is your next best step. Depression is real. I am not saying that you have that, but what I am saying is that going without help that you need to talk to someone to just understand what to do next is a disservice to yourself.
And so if you're at a point where it's just unbearable and meditation or really finding this time to be active and reaching within yourself to understand what makes you happy. If you can't get there, it might be that you need to talk it through with someone else. And it doesn't mean it has to be a therapist, it could be a friend, it could be a counselor, it could be a coach. But this is really important, that social connection helps a lot. And I will say that when I decided I wanted to be a coach, my friend actually told it to me first. And when she said to me, "Sharon, I think you'd be a great coach," I was like, "You know that I have a real job, and then I'm a CPA?" I was so indignant because I really didn't think I could see this.
And then I thought about it and I was like, "Oh my gosh, this is all I want to do in my life, this is my calling." But it took talking and connecting with someone else to have that bubble to the top. So I want to thank all of you for hanging on, I really appreciate it. It is 10 o'clock. And I know that we are going to be going into our networking groups, if you're joining us, which I'm really excited about. And so again, I just want to thank you for your time. I want to encourage you to use the workbook. And I'm going to hand it back over to Lexi who's going to give us a couple of instructions on how to more easily get into our networking groups.