How to Be a Successful Woman in Life and Your Career

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Are you tired of wasting your potential? Do you want to be a successful woman in life?

Many women feel like they have to work hard to prove themselves and their worth. What you might not realize is that you determine your own success—you just have to stop making excuses, be unapologetic, and start living the life you deserve.

Here’s some advice from some inspirational and powerful women about how to be a successful woman in life.

Stop Making Excuses

Before you can acquire the behaviors and skills to help you learn how to be a successful woman in life, you must first develop the right mindset. To Rachel Hollis, this means letting go of excuses and embracing a mentality of positivity and perseverance, as she wrote in her book Girl, Stop Apologizing.

Excuses are a tool of self-sabotage. Hollis explains that excuses are paralyzing beliefs that serve no valuable purpose and stop you from even trying.

Hollis goes through the most common excuses that she hears (and once believed herself) for why you can’t live your dream. She takes each excuse and strips it of its power, reveals the truth beneath, and provides you with strategies to conquer it.

Excuse: Good Women Shouldn’t Focus on Themselves

According to Hollis, society expects women to care for everyone else, and the phrase “a good woman” is typically synonymous with “a good wife and mother.” Hollis goes on to say that because society expects women to run the household, they are often looked down upon for having career ambitions.

Hollis argues that women must shed this excuse because when you’re being true to yourself, you’re better able to care for those you love. When you’re fulfilled, you’ll be better in all of your relationships. Hollis says that the only way to live a full and happy life is to be open and honest about your dreams, goals, and desires.

Excuse: I’m Not Capable

Hollis says the next excuse you’re likely to tell yourself is that your dream is too lofty, and you’re not good enough at (fill in the blank) to accomplish it.

Hollis says that believing you’re not capable is an excuse because the truth is, everybody struggles at the start of something new and challenging. She believes that it’s not important to be naturally good at whatever you’re doing. Rather, you must have the willingness to be bad at it for a long time

Excuse: I Have No Free Time

Of all the excuses Hollis highlights, she says the most common one she hears is “I don’t have time.”

Hollis puts forth a simple truth: You won’t find more time. Instead, Hollis says you need to make time by redesignating what fills your hours. She stresses that you can replace any activity with a different activity; the choice is entirely yours.

Hollis recommends you start by “making” five hours available each week to work on your goal by reducing or eliminating other activities. Be intentional about how you schedule your time, and prioritize the parts of your life that are most important to you. 

Excuse: I Can’t Have It All

You have stopped caring what other people think of your dream, but now you worry that the other areas of your life will suffer. Hollis insists that this fear that you can’t have it all is an excuse that will hold you back. 

Many people aim for balance in life but Hollis believes you should instead strive to be “centered,” which means to feel content and at peace with all areas of your life. Hollis believes that the easiest way to achieve contentment and relieve yourself of guilt is to intentionally prioritize the important moments. Rather than focusing on the number of hours you spend on family, friends, work, and so on, Hollis advises you to be intentional about when you focus on each. Go for quality over quantity.

Build Your Confidence

The Confidence Code by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman found evidence that women have less confidence than men, and women tend to underestimate their abilities. Men tend to overestimate their abilities:

  • Example #1: Columbia Business School found that on average, men think their performance is almost a third better than it actually is.
  • Example #2: Marilyn Davidson of Manchester Business School found that her male students both expect and think they deserve higher salaries (on average $80,000) than what the women expect and think they deserve (on average $64,000).

Psychologists believe that 50% of confidence might come from choice and will. The confidence code—the building blocks of confidence—consists of three principles: 

  1. Don’t overthink. 
  2. Act. 
  3. Be authentic. 

Practice adhering to the code to learn how to be a successful woman in life by using the following techniques:

Technique #1: Fail fast. Failing fast is a business strategy that involves trying lots of ideas, expecting that most of them will fail. This is useful as a confidence-building strategy because it inherently involves the same cycle of repeated attempts, failure, and risk-taking necessary for building confidence. Additionally, it combats perfectionism and inhibits overthinking because the cycles are so fast there’s simply no time.

Technique #2: Act, even when you’re uncertain. If you stay inactive in your comfort zone, you won’t improve or gain confidence. If you act, the worst thing that will happen is that you fail. You don’t have to take massive action—it’s fine to start this strategy with baby steps. For example, if you’re not confident about attending parties solo, first, go to a small event where you know people. 

Technique #3: Think differently using thought exercises. For example, to control ruminating, whenever you find yourself doing it, think of three things you’ve done well that day.

Technique #4: Change your focus. Women tend to be more confident when they focus on others instead of themselves. Therefore, you can spur yourself to act by thinking about how taking action will benefit others. For example, if you’re nervous about public speaking, tell yourself you’re speaking on behalf of people or a group you care about.

Technique #5: Take credit. When you achieve something, don’t downplay it, attribute it to luck, or be self-deprecating. You deserve your achievements, so take credit for them. If you have trouble taking a compliment, say thank you and tell the person you appreciate them saying it. In moments when you lack confidence, remember these achievements—you’ll become more confident when you remember there’s proof you’ve been successful in the past.

Technique #6: Don’t take things personally. When someone criticizes you at work, remember that this criticism is directed at your work, not you. Also, recognize that women face some obstacles men don’t and this makes things harder for us. We’re not incompetent or less capable; our lives are harder and we don’t have access to the same resources. 

Technique #7: Become more comfortable speaking up. You can improve your confidence and speaking abilities by using whatever speaking style is most comfortable, focusing on others, and avoiding upspeak (when the pitch of your voice rises at the end of a sentence, making it sound like you’re asking a question and are uncertain).

Technique #8: Do things differently if necessary. You don’t need to copy men or other people to be confident. If you have a new, more effective way of doing something, pursue it, even if you face criticism.

Technique #9: Don’t rely on external sources of confidence. There’s nothing wrong with comparing yourself to others and enjoying external validation, but it’s dangerous to rely on this as a source of confidence. You’re less likely to act if you fear the action will make people stop praising you, and you’ll be crushed when you don’t get enough praise.

Be Open to Help From Other Women

To be a successful woman in life, you must also be open to receiving help from people so you can focus on your career. You should remind yourself that you’re not weak to ask for help. In fact, you’ll learn more from other women who have been in your position than you will from being on this journey by yourself. We’ll explore Rachel Rodgers’s advice on how to seek help from her book We Should All Be Millionaires.

Recruit Help and Delegate Tasks

Rodgers suggests that if you’re very focused on advancing your career, you should hire people to do household or administrative tasks that you don’t have time to do. She recommends you outsource anything that drains your energy, that you hate doing, or that you find difficult to do. For example, if you have a messy household and spend a lot of time cleaning, consider hiring a cleaning service. Rodgers advises you to start by hiring a personal assistant who can handle a variety of tasks, like sorting through your emails, doing errands, and managing your schedule.

You might be reluctant to spend money when you’re trying to grow your wealth, but Rodgers argues that you can build your skills and career with more focus and energy and spend more time generating income this way. Further, when you learn to delegate, you can lower your stress and free up time to do what you want, which can improve your health and happiness.

Build a Close Network of Successful Women

Now that you’ve delegated tedious tasks, Rodgers proposes another way to be a successful woman in life: Build a network of successful women who can support you and your financial goals. A close cohort of women can provide you with gender-specific support, a sense of belonging, and more opportunities. Rodgers explains that the majority of highly-successful women have a close group of women.

Rodgers offers tips on how to cultivate a small, close network of women:

Tip #1: Join new communities. You don’t have to limit yourself to professional groups. Rodgers recommends you simply find a community that shares your beliefs, values, and interests and focus on building sincere relationships with other women.

Tip #2: Reach out to friends and colleagues you’ve lost touch with. One way to reconnect is to do something for them. For example, you could reach out and tell them that you voted on their entry in a photography contest.

Tip #3: If you can’t find the community you’re looking for, Rodgers suggests you create your own group based on your interests.

Get Rid of Imposter Syndrome

According to Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg, the self-doubt women carry is called “impostor syndrome.” They feel like impostors inside as if at any moment they’ll be revealed as frauds. When praised, they feel undeserving and guilty, like a mistake has been made. 

Despite her qualifications, even Sandberg has been affected by impostor syndrome. She arrived at Harvard unprepared for its academic rigor and soon felt lost, not as smart as everyone else—a fraud. Through hard work, she excelled, but she could never shake this nagging self-doubt. 

Women are more likely than men to be affected and limited by impostor syndrome, often judging their performance as worse than it really is. In contrast, men tend to judge their performance as better than it is. Data supports this: 

  • A study of surgery students showed that females rated themselves lower than male students, despite the faculty rating them higher.
  • A study of political candidates revealed that male candidates rated themselves “very qualified” 60 percent more than women candidates.

It’s hard to shake self-doubt, but knowing this feeling is a distortion of reality can help you be a successful woman in life. Sandberg advises women to make an emotional and intellectual adjustment when interpreting successes and failures. For example, when feeling headed for failure, Sandberg learned to remind herself of past successes, thus challenging her natural instinct and undistorting the distortion.

Lack of confidence is a self-fulfilling prophecy and it’s important to fight it. One tactic is to fake it. Research backs up the “fake it til you make it” strategy. Even a change in posture can boost testosterone and lower stress hormones, making you feel more in charge. The most important opportunities are seized, not offered, and being confident (or faking it) allows you to go for it. Confidence allows you to create opportunities for yourself. 

Be Unapologetic About Your Dreams

Fantasy and imagination can be instrumental in being a successful woman in life, as Rachel Hollis learned from her own experiences. In her book Girl, Wash Your Face, she says that when she first moved to Los Angeles, her admittedly ridiculous goal was meeting and marrying the actor Matt Damon. Though this was an unlikely scenario, her belief got her to Los Angeles and led her to landing a great job, which led to her event planning career and her future husband.

With no clear direction, she just made one up. Once she had a direction, she was able to get moving and make progress in her life. When she gave up on marrying Matt Damon, she began obsessing about an expensive Louis Vuitton handbag. She imagined it in great detail and vowed to buy it after her first $10,000 check. Through years of hard work and progress in her career, she kept her eyes on the prize—and achieved it. Her purse represented more than just a purse; it was the culmination of an enormous amount of hard work, career progress, and success. 

Visualize Your Goals

The author attributes her ability to imagine her dreams in intricate detail as a big factor in becoming a successful woman in life. Big goals, such as “career success,” can feel overwhelming, vague, and challenging, but if you break a big dream down into bite-sized goals, as she did with her purse, it feels achievable.

When setting a goal, spend time focusing on intricate detail. What does it look like? How does it feel? Visualizing this level of detail makes the goal feel real. It will be different for everyone; it’s about finding the motivation you need to make a move in your life. Whether or not that exact dream comes true isn’t the point: what is important is having a clear direction. 

Life gets hard and many things can get in the way of your goal, but with a clear vision, you have something to focus on. Your big goals can keep you going when you’re tired and discouraged, and when they are imagined in crystal clear detail, it’s easier to hold onto them.

Tips on Using Imagination to Move Your Goal Forward

Try these three imagination tools to stay focused on your goal.

  • Write it down. Write down your goal in intricate detail, including how you’ll feel when it’s achieved. What will your first day at the dream job feel like? How will you feel when you get healthy? The more detail the better.
  • Say it out loud. Naming your goal is important because it helps us absorb the goal. For example, instead of “I’m going back to school,” say, “I’m going to get my master’s in psychology.”
  • Create a vision board. This helps you map out your dreams in your mind. Keep reminders of your current goal taped up where you can see them. Hollis has a cover of Forbes magazine to remind herself of her dream to be a self-made millionaire. She also has a picture of a home in Hawaii to remind her of her dream of owning a vacation home there.

Final Words

It can be discouraging to think about how much easier your life would be if you were a man. But just think about all the women who came before you—they also had these same struggles in the workplace, at school, and home. Yet so many became successful women in life because of their drive and determination, and you can too.

What are other ways to learn how to be a successful woman in life? Let us know in the comments below!

How to Be a Successful Woman in Life and Your Career

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Katie Doll

Somehow, Katie was able to pull off her childhood dream of creating a career around books after graduating with a degree in English and a concentration in Creative Writing. Her preferred genre of books has changed drastically over the years, from fantasy/dystopian young-adult to moving novels and non-fiction books on the human experience. Katie especially enjoys reading and writing about all things television, good and bad.

One thought on “How to Be a Successful Woman in Life and Your Career

  • April 16, 2024 at 12:17 am

    Nice pieces of information. Am empowered


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