Drowning in “office housework”? Sign #2 that you’re holding yourself back

Last week I shared a telltale sign of limiting beliefs: being bored in your current role.

I see this so often in my clients. These brilliant women are unsatisfied with their work but undervalue themselves and don’t know how to break out of their roles. I shared how I coached one client to start applying for jobs for which she felt 4/5ths qualified. To start making progress on her dreams, she needed to let go of the “I’m not good enough for this” mindset.

This week I want to talk about another sign that you might be holding yourself back.

Sign #2: You’re swimming in resentment.

Women often take on little admin tasks that are ‘unpromotable’ and just plain unsatisfying, like being the one who prints out the agenda for the meeting every time or checking up on others’ progress on their tasks. Not only are these tasks often a distraction from the work that pushes our core mission and mandate forward, but they can also ‘brand’ us in “Helpy Helperton” roles which makes it hard to be seen as high-performance leaders.* When we get stuck doing this kind of work resentment can build up at all the “office housework” on your plate. If you’re feeling like you’re not valued in your role, or that you’re being passed over again and again, this message is for you.

I worked with a woman who wanted to envision her next level, but was so stuck in the day-to-day “housework” that she couldn’t even figure out what values and goals she wanted to cultivate.

So I put her on a “No” Diet.

She needed to say “no” once a day to something that was asked of her. And guess what? She realized that she was actually volunteering for the office housework she hated.

Sometimes we get feedback that we’re oh so helpful in the administrative problem-solving roles we take on at the beginning of our career, and it’s easy to get addicted to that praise. But even more harmful is getting stuck in those roles because we’re afraid that we won’t be needed anymore if we take the risk to evolve.

When we choose to say “no” to tasks that don’t actually matter in our growth, we’re not making ourselves less valuable. We’re actually creating more space for the important work that moves us closer to our core mission — and making ourselves more valuable.

Have a favorite strategy for saying “no”? Hit reply and share!


*Note: Women I work with often struggle with the idea that we shouldn’t be doing admin work or that it’s not valuable. It doesn’t jive with the commitment they have to showing that all work is valuable and to flattening hierarchies that are elitist and don’t value labor—domestic or the key labor that keeps our office doors open. I hear you. It’s tough—many of us are not working in the cultures we ultimately want to be working in. The key is to make sure that the ‘housework’ you take on in the workplace is actually your choice and matches your values—and doesn’t hold you back from where you’re trying to go.

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.