Tag Archives: dream big

Six Important Habits for Empowering Your Daughter

Always remember you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars and change the world.”  – Harriet Tubman

supergirllife

Originally appeared on sheheroes.org. 

We all want our daughters to be the real-life super girl they were meant to be – confident, believing they can accomplish whatever they set their mind to. For a time, when they are really young this seems to be easy, almost effortless. So much so, that sometimes we secretly wish they weren’t quite so eager to take the world by storm. Have you ever met a toddler that wasn’t self-possessed?

As they grow, though, ensuring our daughter feels empowered takes serious, conscious effort – particularly in a culture where she is bombarded at ever younger ages with the script that what really matters are not her achievements and character, but rather what size skinny jeans she wears. Media messages that most often relegate females to a role of passivity – awaiting rescue – rather than taking action to determine her destiny.

So what do we do? How do parents that are over-the-top crazy about their daughters ensure that they hold onto and develop that natural super-girl within? Over the last few years, I have interviewed countless tweens and teens to get a window into girlhood. And these young women have a lot to teach us about how to raise our daughters. Based on those conversations, research, and my personal experience as a mama to two, here are just a few power habits to get you started:

  1. Focus on intellect and work ethic.  Lisa Bloom, Author of Think, has a magical way of interacting with girls that she meets for the first time. Rather than making a comment about how pretty her dress is, she asks her new friend what she is reading. It’s a good thing, of course, to tell your daughter (or son) that they are beautiful. Just be sure to spend 10x more effort noticing how hard she is working at conquering that math problem.
  2. Regularly solicit her opinion. Create a girl that is confident about her opinion by asking what she thinks on topics from her favorite color to global warming, feminism and world affairs. Respect her opinion, but don’t be afraid to disagree with her so learns to defend her stance. Be sure to ask your daughter why she believes what she does. Try not to correct her on the “tone” that she uses to deliver unsolicited opinions. Girls are given a lot of subtle and not-so-subtle messages that she should be smart, just not TOO opinionated or direct. So it’s important that she knows stating what she believes is a good thing.
  3. Expose her to as many strong female role models as possible. There are countless women who are doing work that they are passionate about and making an impact in the world. Expose your daughter to those you know in real life and those that you can find through film, television, and online. Point these amazing role models out whenever you come across them in your life. This site, www.sheheroes.org is a great place to start!
  4. Develop a media critic.  Never underestimate the influence of negative media messages on a girl’s self-esteem. Reducing what your daughter is exposed to definitely helps. Since you can’t completely avoid the damaging messages though, teach her early on to be a critical observer, questioning the motives of an advertiser or television show. “Huh, I wonder why this movie has the girl waiting to be saved. She must be really bored! They clearly don’t understand what girls like to do.”
  5. Set aside a few minutes daily to consider the bigger stuff of life. It may sound silly to have your elementary school daughter pondering the meaning of life, but it is never too early to start making this life-changing ritual part of your day. It makes setting time aside to be conscious about her life an early habit and also gives the powerful underlying message that she is in charge of her future.
    • Start with just 5 minutes each day or a week even (if five minutes is too long, then go with 1 or 2 minutes). Unless your daughter is an early riser, evenings before bed may be best if she is in school all day.  She can use a special journal or notebook set for only this special time. Younger children may simply use the notebook to draw something magical. As your daughter gets a bit older, you can ask her open ended questions like, “What did you love about today?” And preteen and teen girls are ready for questions about imagining their biggest, boldest dreams. (For a daily guide for this practice, check out Take 5 for Your Dreams.
  6. Teach her to be brave by trying new things. Most of us develop confidence by experiencing mastery of a new skill that we were initially afraid to do or were simply unfamiliar with whether it be rock climbing, a challenging scientific theory, or meeting new friends. Encourage your daughter to step out of her comfort zone sometimes. When she is struggling with a new skill, remind her of the other times she’s learned something new.

Remember your daughter is her own one-of-a-kind super girl. Create an environment where she is reminded of that consistently and she will be compelled to reach for the stars.

For more practical habits to empower your daughter, sign up for our weekly tips on developing courage and confidence in the girls and young women in your life.

The book Take 5 for Your Dreams was created especially for preteen and teen girls and provides more than 90 five-minute daily exercises designed to inspire girls to think about their future, their goals, and how they can get there. Packed with beautiful photos, quotes, mini-essays, and resources, it’s a simple and elegant solution meant to break the idea of dreaming big into easy, doable daily steps. 

 

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4 Actions You Can Take While You Are Working *Only* for the Money

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My job is soul-sucking.

It’s not the first time I have heard this phrase from someone that is miserable in their work. Many people that are deeply unsatisfied and unhappy at their jobs describe an oppressive (and sometimes hostile) daily existence including: a lack of trust in their co-workers or management, feeling pressure to perform without support (or sometimes active sabotaging), political game playing such as others taking credit for their work, experiencing subtle or overt sexism, finding the work meaningless, boring, or in some cases morally bankrupt, etc…

Others say they feel as though they are not living up to their potential or want to be involved in work and people that matter to them. At some point during the conversation, I usually ask:

So why not quit?

And the response:

I can’t afford it.

This is smart response. Financial security and taking care of your family are meaningful reasons to stay at your soul-sucking job temporarily. If timing is your choice, I never recommend quitting your current position without a transition plan and an understanding of what’s next for you.

Sometimes though, especially for those in high-paying and/or prestigious positions, the conversation leads to staying because of the importance of maintaining a certain lifestyle.

Reminder: A few weeks of family vacation where you worry about your work often, that beautiful house where you can’t sleep without medication, or weekend’s where you feel depressed and exhausted…is not much of a lifestyle.

Whether you are at a soul-sucking job or simply want to do something bigger or more meaningful, there is a third option. Stay while you plan your escape by:

  1. Saving. Reduce or alleviate the financial risk of making a big shift. Reduce your expenses, get a second job, support your spouse in working, or start a side gig. Most people that are unhappy at work feel that they do not have any other choice but to stay. Without some level of financial safety net, the risk and anxiety of leaving your job may be too significant.
  2. Dreaming. There is zero risk in dreaming about what you want. Carve out even five minutes a day to explore and be intentional about your work and life dreams by asking yourself the big questions. Reflect on what it is most important to you in the next phase of work and life.  With the right questions and process in a short time you will see patterns and a direction emerge. Reconnect with your dreams first and then get very practical about what is feasible and what would be a financially profitably way to approach it. Here are a couple of questions to get you started. Remember these are brainstorming exercises, so no filter and no right or wrong answer. This is between you and you.  Your answers may range from specific and small to visionary to vague: If time, money, or the opinion of others were not a factor, what goals and activities would you pursue? What issues, causes, and problems that need solving have you been particularly drawn to.
  3. Taking micro steps. Don’t stop with dreaming, because without action (and eventually a plan), you won’t make progress. Once you know what you want, then start making a list of infinitesimal, doable steps you can take toward it.
  4. Finding something meaningful in your work now. Bringing more of yourself into your life can help. Try one of these every day: write down one way in which you are contributing in a positive way to your company; start the day by recording one thing you are grateful for at work; reach out consciously to someone at work with a kind or encouraging word; go outside at lunch and breathe the fresh air; or brainstorm out-of-the-box ideas to help your company that would also fuel your own passions.

How about you, what one small, infinitesimal step can you take to begin toward work that is meaningful to you?

 

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When Your Potential Ends

Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start. -Nido Qubein*

I am conducting research as part of my work on a personal development program for young adults. In one of the books, I am reading (more precisely listening to on Audible) the author provides insight into the environment and characteristics that determine success in school and life. To illustrate the weaknesses of one model, he shares a story about a teen who attended a NYC charter high school. The student, Tony, did quite well academically in the highly-structured environment of the charter school and was accepted to a four-year university.

But when he started college, Tony floundered and after a couple of tries, eventually dropped out for good. Using Tony’s story, the author highlighted what was missing from this particular charter school and advocating for a formula that emphasizes traits like grit rather than a traditional model focused almost exclusively on intellectual/academic success.

During his research, the author interviewed and quotes Tony, now in his late 20’s and working at an AT&T call center. With resignation, Tony sighs,

“I really had a lot of potential.”

…and then not missing a beat the author continues with his growth mindset hypothesis.

And that’s when my next door neighbors may have heard my rant. 

Wait! What do you mean had? Had?

Tony is 28 years old; his dreams and the possibilities for his life are not in the past tense. Given the difficult circumstances of his early years, he has done extraordinarily well. But still he has the potential to do much, much more if he chooses.

Tony doesn’t need to accept his current circumstances as fate because of his college/teenage struggles no matter his history, but particularly keeping in mind that he was likely still recovering from trauma.

How ironic that a text that is focused heavily on the growth mindset (the malleability of intelligence and success) implies that potential has an expiration date?

There are countless famous, historic and everyday examples of people hitting their stride in every decade of life, literally until 100 years old.

Tony’s potential ends when he decides it does. And so doesn’t yours.


Take 5: 

Your potential ends when you decide it does. Take two minutes and consider what you have the potential for (maybe it comes in the form of regret or a tinge of if only) by brainstorming answers to this question:

What would you do today if money, time, or the opinions of others were irrelevant? 

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*source for quote: brainyquotes.com