The hard way I learned about the way we approach success

My brilliant power female team at work before a night out

It all started with a dream. A life I had envisioned for myself years ago. I wanted to become independent and free: free from financial worries that have always been a part of my life. Free from fear of ever having to rely on someone else to make my life better. Coming from a very loving and supportive, yet not affluent family, education and career became my focus, to make those dreams come true. Like many of you – ambitious women –

I wanted to become the best possible version of myself.

Now, 7 years from graduation, I realize it was the trap that we fall into. We don’t enjoy what we do, but we keep on going. We feel burnt out, but we ignore the feeling. Our health deteriorates, but we choose not to notice.

When I was a student I was genuinely happy having very little, but could see the horizon being even better. Moving to a bigger city, travelling, buying my own apartment.

Aren’t we all told that sky is the limit and we can become whatever we dream of?

So did I – I believed that between me and real happiness stands only a good amount of hard work and a little bit of luck. I got a great first job out of uni and quickly overestimated my salary by taking a mortgage and buying an apartment I couldn’t afford that would soon put me in financial troubles.

Fast forward 4 years I found myself in my 3rd job, moving abroad and leaving everything behind, hoping to prove to myself that I can do it. And that I still can have it all. I think that in crunch times we all find more willpower that we would expect to have. Giving up is not an option.

Initially it was a dream come true scenario with a high-flying job and a salary beyond my expectations. I knew that if I continue to work hard, I’ll be in a position to pay back my mortgage in no time and gain international experience to climb a career ladder even faster. Maybe then I’d slow down.

But there was a price to pay. Thinking that I can have it all at once without sacrificing other things was the biggest misconception – a trap so many of us fall into.

After a year of going non-stop, I noticed something was wrong. I lost on weigh, my hair started falling out, I developed stress responses and would jump in bed at night at every sound, and had symptoms of a burnt out with extremely low levels of energy. I started to think maybe it wasn’t supposed to be this way. How much do we have to sacrifice in the name of professional success?

I ignored all the possible red flags and my wake up call came a couple of months later during a routine check up at the doctors.

They suspected I may either have a benign pituitary gland tumor, (which I wasn’t told about at the time, thanks God). After more tests and weeks of waiting, it turned out there was no tumor, but my hormones were so extremely unbalanced that they had stopped cooperating with my body making me temporarily infertile.

The news brought me back to earth in an instant. I was happy it wasn’t a tumor but at the same time really concerned: I wasn’t planning on having kids at that time, but I still hoped to be a mom one day – or at least to have the option. As I researched this more and talked to the doctors, it became evident that I’m one of many ‘from ‘do-it-all- generation of women. Most of them find out later when they are trying to get pregnant, so I considered myself lucky that I was diagnosed so early.

Until that diagnosis nothing seemed impossible as my days were planned from 5am to midnight. When I felt exhausted, I drank coffee, took a cold shower or a nap and kept on going, but didn’t contemplate really slowing down. Then my body gave me a warning sign that I couldn’t ignore.

I thought that by working harder and longer I’ll get ahead. It was the mistake – it’s working smarter that really makes a difference.

Now, less than a year later, I’m completely healthy, but had to make serious changes – in all areas of my life. I realized how much I have driven myself to exhaustion – and see how so many of my friends and clients do the same. I started questioning success in conventional terms – money / power formula we all know – as it clearly wasn’t working.

Over next year I redesigned my life – and proved to myself, and others, that by prioritizing your health and well-being you don’t have to sacrifice your career. In fact it’s the opposite as by knowing how to prioritize your days and putting your needs ahead of any other things makes you so much more productive and fulfilled. I keep on sharing all of my tips with you, to give you back control you’ve lost and most importantly, show you that you can enjoy yourself in the process instead of waiting for imaginary success at the horizon that should in theory make you feel accomplished!

I needed to learn this a hard way. Now I want to share all of the secrets and ideas on how to achieve your dreams without sacrificing yourself.

When I see women trying to have it all without asking themselves if that’s what they really want to do, I see the reflection of myself not so long ago. Always on the go, saying yes to every single opportunity and struggling to prioritize myself. I exhausted myself by my perfectionism and a desire to do more. To constantly be a better version of myself. But I’m not a robot, and neither are you!

My team at home – my mom and my sister

I can honestly tell you that I changed and balanced my life by:

  • Prioritizing and taking control of my time. Once I knew where I needed to go and why, I focused my actions precisely on those things. I gained confidence that I add value with what I do, and that I don’t need to prove it all the time being concerned about never being enough and being all things to all people.
  • Letting go of perfectionism and desire to be liked by everyone. I learned how to say no to distractions. I let go of fear of raising my hand and speaking up and negotiating for myself.
  • Embracing my feminine side and not competing with the world. Acknowledging the fact that health, when gone, is something you will give everything to to get back.

I now have a quality life I dreamt of for a long time and ask myself why it took me so long since it seems so easy now? I still don’t have all the answers and I am constantly a work in progress, but want to encourage all of you to reach out for more while not sacrificing yourselves!

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