Yeah, yeah, you’ve heard the advice—lean in, lean in!

But do you ever think, that’s just so much flipping work….?

hughhhhh (exhausted sigh.)

Maybe you’re a working mom, working the ‘double shift…’ no, wait, it’s probably more like the triple shift—working a long day, coming home to take care of your family, and then logging in a few more hours at night. Or maybe you’re balancing putting in the hours while you pay your dues…study for professional development tests……and then go out multiple times a week to check your networking box.

I just got so exhausted writing this, I had to take a break.

But now I’m back…. With the second way I see women get lost in the crowd and slow down their career growth.

I see a lot of exhausted women come through Build Yourself Workshop…. And I see a lot of exhausted women decline to take Build Yourself, because they’re so exhausted they feel they just don’t have the time.

But I’ve also seen women break through.

I’ve seen the busy business owner take the time upfront to hire a project manager—it felt like she’d never make the time to hire—but once she did, it took less time than she thought to find the right person. And doing so allowed her to show up at 100% for the high-level clients she was booking.

I’ve seen the working mother get a promotion—and go home in time to be with her daughter. And she told me she had time to craft. To CRAFT? What working mother you know who has time to craft?

So what’s the secret? These women are working smarter not harder.

So what do these women do to work smarter not harder?

They Drop Some Balls

Are you a perfectionist? Perfectionism may have gotten you here—because it showed you were dependable and responsible—but it wont get you there. The problem with perfectionism and workaholism is that we tell ourselves we’re getting it all done, but that’s a lie. When I work late at night, it comes off my next morning. So as much as a I hate to choose what to do and what is going to fall by the wayside, I have to. That fabulous crafting go-getter I mentioned doesn’t go to every meeting for her project. She asks others to report back on key decisions that she needs to know about. She took herself off of social media—gave the finger to the FOMO—and won herself back her evenings at home.

A leading architecture firm principal told me that she sees women get stuck in mid-career because they just can’t get comfortable with the idea that they’ll never get to the bottom of their to-do list. To be a leader, you have to triage every day—that’s the new normal, not being behind.

They Get Comfortable with Power

When’s the last time you were super comfortable telling someone what to do? Women grow up not seeing a lot of examples of women in power, and consequently, it can be hard to embody that power when we’re given it. When I first started working with subcontractors supporter my work, I found that it was even hard for me to give them assignments. I felt the need to soften what I was saying because it felt uncomfortable to be in a position of power. But there was a cost to that. I didn’t communicate clearly and directly and things got lost in the cracks—and sometimes I avoided giving them tasks because I felt odd about asking them to do things that felt menial. But that was their job. They were doing the menial tasks so I could free up my capacity. That’s what they were hired to do, and I was hindering them. The people I was working with wanted me to do my job—to tell them what I wanted them to do.

They Stop Doing their Last Job

When women who work smarter not harder grow in their careers, when they get a new role, they stop doing the job they used to do. When they are promoted into management, they don’t manage the others who are supposed to fill their former job and kinda sorta still do that job as well. I see women, who struggle with perfectionism do this all the time. They grow into greater capacity—whether that’s in management or start booking higher-level clients, and instead of replacing their capacity—all of the sudden they get scared. The world looks different from higher up—and some women don’t believe they deserve it, and they fear that if they don’t know every single thing that is happening, it’s all going to fall apart. Truth is—sometimes things will fall apart. But managing others is about training them to do a good job and being there to work it through when things fail—because that empowers them to grow—and so they take responsibility things not failing in exactly that way again.


Hi I'm Maya

Mia Scharphie , career coach, headshot

I’m a career coach and strategist with a secret power (I mean, past career) as a designer. I love road trips, graphic novels and helping people like you design the career you love on your own terms.