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Reignite Your Career Mojo: Overcoming the Back-to-Work Blues

Reignite Your Career Mojo: Overcoming the Back-to-Work Blues

After navigating a seemingly endless whirlwind of changes and challenges over the past few years, have you found yourself reassessing your priorities and reflecting on what truly matters to you? You are certainly not alone. And as we ease into a new year, perhaps you’re finding yourself grappling with the back-to-work blues.

Returning to the daily grind after treasured downtime means saying goodbye to those leisurely beach days, quiet reading moments, and extended lunches with friends. It’s completely normal to feel a bit wistful…

Seeing another year stretch before you might also have you wondering whether you and your job are meant for each other. But, before you start contemplating a major career overhaul, let’s chat about some strategies to reignite your professional spark.

How to Beat the Back-to-Work-Blues:

1. Get Clear on Your Goals

You’ve likely heard this advice before, and for good reason – because it really is important! Setting clear goals provides a roadmap for the year ahead. If traditional goal-setting doesn’t resonate, how about picking a theme for the year? For instance, I once dedicated a year to pushing beyond my comfort zone. Last year’s theme was Ask. What theme might guide your year?

2. Establish Boundaries

Is it beginning to feel like you’re living at the office? I once worked with someone who’s average work day was 12 hours. Yikes! It was no wonder her health was suffering, she felt endless guilt about not being present with her family, and she was resenting the role that used to energise her.

A new year is a great opportunity to establish some new boundaries – or reinforce those boundaries that have slipped away. And if your work hours seem to be growing, it’s definitely time to set some boundaries.

When my client learned to stick to her boundaries, graciously decline tasks that weren’t her responsibility, and focus on the work that really mattered, she was able to reclaim over 2 hours each day… while still delivering results for the organisation.

3. Work Smarter, Not Harder

We cannot create more time. It’s that simple. So the trick here is to find the tactics and habits that will support you to win back some time for the things that matter. Things like carving out – and fiercely protecting – time for your big-picture, strategic thinking, and then working on those strategies during your most productive hours.

It will mean understanding what is important (for you, your team, and the organisation) and effectively delegating everything else. And it will mean getting good at saying no to things you don’t need to focus on.

4. Leverage Your Strengths

Can you clearly articulate your strengths? Do you get to leverage those strengths in your current role?

When you align work with your strengths, you will perform significantly better and – more importantly – you will experience a higher level of job satisfaction. Take some time to reflect on your strengths and whether your current role gives you the opportunity to use them effectively.

5. Nourish Professional Relationships

Another factor that can improve job satisfaction is the relationships you have at work. Nurturing these relationships takes effort… but it will pay off if you commit to it. Stay connected, give value, collaborate, and support your team and colleagues in shared goals and objective. Taking the time to create a strong professional network can make a world of difference.

6. Prioritise Your Own Wellbeing

I know you already know: when work takes over, our own wellbeing gets dumped at the bottom of the pile. Yet research consistently highlights the importance of cultivating a healthy lifestyle for overall performance – in life and at work.

Focusing on nutritious eating, regular exercise, and moments of mindfulness is crucial. When you cultivate an active and fulfilling life you will see the benefits across the board.

7. Give Yourself a Decision Date

If, despite your efforts, you still struggle to find joy and fulfillment at work, this year might be the time to consider something new. Commit to a date by which you’ll either rekindle your career mojo or decide to explore new opportunities. Life is too short to stay stuck in a job that leaves you feeling drained and unfulfilled.

Now, over to you…

If the back-to-work blues have left you uninspired for the year ahead, it’s time to embrace change. After all, nothing changes if nothing changes! This is your time to take charge, shake things up, and reignite that professional mojo so you can step into that sustainable, fulfilling leadership role you know you’re capable of.

Know you need support and accountability to begin implementing these strategies? My signature group coaching program, IGNITE, can help. Over 8 weeks, you’ll discover how to step up to the next level of leadership, impact and recognition – without working harder. Learn more about the program here

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Join the newsletter list for weekly tips and strategies showing you how to ignite your career, lead your way and accelerate your success. 
Watch The Next Level Training to breakthrough to the next level of leadership, impact and recognition.  
Get my best tips on working smarter not harder 
Read my latest blog post.
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5 Tips for Blending Work and Play This Silly Season

5 Tips for Blending Work and Play This Silly Season

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5 Tips for Blending Work and Play This Silly Season

The days are getting warmer and the evenings longer which means we are on the downhill stretch to Christmas, the silly season and the end of the year

But this does not mean that it’s time to put your career aspirations on hold, swan off with a cocktail in hand or slip into your summer sandals and head to the beach for that long awaited break. 

Not quite so fast, my friend. That time will come, but not quite yet!

Here’s what I suggest you focus on first. 

As I’ve discussed with many high-achieving women over the last couple of weeks, this is the perfect time to get out and about connecting and positioning yourself for the types of roles you would like to be considered for come the new year.

So, ladies, it’s time to dig into the back of your wardrobe, pull on some real clothes and head out for a pre-Christmas drink, coffee or lunch. Look through your contact list and pick up the phone to colleagues from years gone past.

Go into this festive period with an intention to have some fun, while also making the best use of the opportunity to strengthen key relationships, build your profile and seek opportunities in the hidden job market.

Yes… I’m suggesting you be a little bit strategic.

As I’ve discovered, through many discussions with women over the last couple of years … knowing how to have these conversations and exactly how to position yourself can be bewildering.

Here are my 5 top tips on making meaningful connections over holiday drinks:

1. Relationships first, business second.

Focus on building genuine robust relationships. No one likes to be taken advantage of or used. So, look to develop authentic connections and be willing to give even more than you would ultimately like to get from the relationship. And remember, a handwritten, heartfelt note to those people you are grateful to have in your life will go a long way to raising your profile as a genuine professional worth supporting.

2. Embrace and celebrate your achievements.

When someone asks you how the year has been, speak of what you have achieved and what has made you proud this year. No more hiding in the shadows or skipping over the wins. This is all about positioning your skills and talents and developing your personal brand.

3. Be open to new opportunities.

At this time of the year people will ask you about your work, what you’re doing and if it’s been a good year. If you’re on the job market… let people know (with discretion of course.) If you don’t know exactly what is next for you then share that you are exploring opportunities that will allow you to use your X, Y and Z skills and further develop your interest and passion for A, B and C.

4. Ask for introductions.

Your next role is most likely to come through an introduction or a recommendation from someone in your network. So, let’s expand the network. Ask your connections whether there is anyone within their network that may be valuable for you to connect with. Remember, you will never get what you don’t ask for.

5. And most importantly, have fun!

Let’s face it, it’s been a tough year and you’ve worked hard, so let’s take some time to enjoy the festive season. A positive, optimistic and fun attitude during the silly season will do wonders for your soul and boost your chances of a fabulous opportunity coming. 

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LET'S CONNECT

Click below to…

Join “Leading Ladies” – a private FREE Facebook group of over 1600 other mid-career professional women to inspire and support
Join the newsletter list for weekly tips and strategies showing you how to ignite your career, lead your way and accelerate your success. 
Watch The Next Level Training to breakthrough to the next level of leadership, impact and recognition.  
Get my best tips on working smarter not harder 
Read my latest blog post.
Can’t find what you’re looking for? Contact my team.

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Have you found yourself reassessing your priorities and reflecting on what truly matters to you? You are certainly not alone. And as we ease into a new year, perhaps you’re finding yourself grappling with the back-to-work blues. Before you throw in the towel, here’s what to consider…

Jane Benston

Side view.Young businesswoman dressed in light pink shirt sitting at wooden table and using laptop while talking on cellphone.Girl uses digital gadget. On table cup of coffee. Online shopping,working.

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It’s a truth universally acknowledged that an incredibly accomplished woman may find herself held back… Held back from achieving her aspirations, from stepping into her leadership potential and from becoming even more accomplished.

Jane Benston

Front view of a doubtful woman shrugging shoulders and looking at you sitting on a sofa at home

What’s holding you back?

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that an incredibly accomplished woman may find herself held back… Held back from achieving her aspirations, from stepping into her leadership potential and from becoming even more accomplished.

Jane Benston

A Change of Perception

A Change of Perception

There are three questions I always ask the women I work with – because the answers will dictate whether she’s going to flourish in her leadership role or work herself to the ground (and feel like she’s selling her soul in the process). 

They are:

  •  Do you see yourself as a leader?
  • Does your leadership role sit comfortably with you?
  • Have you found your place as a leader within your organisation?

These questions are an important part of the discovery process, for me and for my clients. Let me explain why. 

Not so long ago, I worked with an incredible woman in my Leadership Connection membership program. Let’s call her Emma (even though that’s not her real name). Emma had an enviable work ethic that kept pace with an extremely busy workplace. She was well-liked and respected by both her peers and the senior executive team. Following a restructure, Emma was excited to be tapped on the shoulder for a leadership position. 

In the new role, Emma found herself reporting to a director that was new to the organisation, and brought a leadership style she wasn’t used to working with. Emma’s new team included some of her former peers, and sadly the shift from colleague to leader did not go smoothly. 

Emma’s former peers were happy to keep her in a place of micromanagement, while the rest of the team (who were looking for strategic guidance) grew resentful of the lack of direction they were receiving from Emma and frustrated that she did not seem to trust them to just get on with the job. 

Emma knew she needed to step up, but being stuck in her to-do list, working ridiculously long hours and dealing with borderline-toxic team dynamics, meant she simply couldn’t see a path forward. She constantly questioned her capabilities, value, and worth.

This story is devastating! And, sadly, all too common.

The transition from peer to leader can be really difficult, and it is rarely an issue of competency. After all, you are employed as a leader in recognition of your abilities and hard work. However, at its core, leadership isn’t just a different way of doing – it requires a different way of thinking. And one of the biggest obstacles to this is how leaders see themselves! Throw in the good girl dynamic that’s so prevalent in our generation and it becomes even more difficult.

Embracing a leadership role requires a distinct shift in how women see themselves. 

Very few people are natural leaders (despite what pervasive mythology would try to have you believe). Effective leadership comes from developing a set of skills, and cultivating the perception that you are, in fact, a leader. And the most significant perception comes from within. 

So, tell me… do you actually see yourself as a leader?

When we step into a leadership role, our behaviour needs to reflect that as well. In performance psychology there is a philosophy of ‘behaviour informs action’, as a reflection of attitude. Put simply, action is (literally) the act of doing something. Behaviour describes the way you conduct yourself as you take the action. To step up into the next level of leadership, the way you behave likely needs to shift, along with your perception of yourself.

When someone steps into a leadership role, they’re really good at doing the work – especially when this role has come from a series of shoulder taps. And while this should shift in their new leadership role, it often doesn’t.

One of the frustrations women share with me (far too often) is that, while they recognise this new role should allow them to be visionary, set the strategic direction, and drive change, that is not the case. 

They find themselves still caught up with implementation (doing the do) and, in some cases, still doing big chunks of their old job! Very often they get stuck in that go-to-girl image.  Their title and official PD changed, but how they approach their workload does not. Which leads to resentment and burnout, with many women left wondering… is this is? Is this what I’ve worked so hard for? No thank you!

Which brings me back to those 3 important questions. 

  • Do you see yourself as a leader?
  • Does your leadership role sit comfortably with you?
  • Have you found your place as a leader within your organisation?

We start here because it helps us focus our work, and understand where exactly my clients need to shift their perception of themselves from the reliable, hard-working, go-to girl to the capable, engaged, and insightful leader they truly are. 

When they come to me, they usually understand the responsibilities, obligations and potential that comes with leading a team, but they are unable to see a path forward that gets them out of the busywork and into the big-picture visionary work that will move the organisation forward. That’s where I come in – so let’s start a conversation today.

By the way, if you’re wondering about what happened to Emma? Through our work together and her own commitment to shifting her perception and the perception of those around her – not only is she now wholeheartedly embracing her leadership role, she is respected by her team and peers and kicking goals!

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Jane Benston

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The days are getting warmer and the evenings longer which means we are on the downhill stretch to Christmas, the silly season and the end of the year.
And with restrictions finally lifted – it’s time to get out and about and connect… in person.

Jane Benston

Front view of a doubtful woman shrugging shoulders and looking at you sitting on a sofa at home

What’s holding you back?

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that an incredibly accomplished woman may find herself held back… Held back from achieving her aspirations, from stepping into her leadership potential and from becoming even more accomplished.

Jane Benston

Click below to…

Join “Leading Ladies” – a private FREE Facebook group of over 1600 other mid-career professional women to inspire and support
Join the newsletter list for weekly tips and strategies showing you how to ignite your career, lead your way and accelerate your success. 
Watch The Next Level Training to breakthrough to the next level of leadership, impact and recognition.  
Get my best tips on working smarter not harder 
Read my latest blog post.
Can’t find what you’re looking for? Contact my team.

What’s holding you back?

What’s holding you back?

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that an incredibly accomplished woman may find herself held back… Held back from achieving her aspirations, from stepping into her leadership potential and from becoming even more accomplished.  

 The saddest part of all?  Many of the roadblocks and obstacles that hold women back come from within.   

 Yes… the system and structures, unconscious bias and the preconceived vision of what a leader looks like play a part, but they’re not the only factors. 

 What’s holding you back? 

Women come to me for a wide range of reasons. While they’re all mid-career, some find themselves ‘stuck’ and unable to progress their careers, while others have reached (and smashed!) their career goals but instead of feeling jubilant feel underwhelmed. Others come to me because they feel unseen and overlooked, while others know they’re working far harder than they should.  

Almost every time I ask “What’s the number one thing holding you back?” they answer without too much hesitation… ME!  

 What almost all these women have in common is the (horrible!) experience of ruminating and questioning their sense of worth. They have internal blocks and mental obstacles that take up far too much real estate in their heads. Instead of strategically approaching their work and career, it’s happening by default, and that doesn’t feel great in the long term.  

 So, how does this arise? At a macro level it’s the patriarchy, no doubt about it, but let’s save that discussion for another day. Let’s go to the nitty gritty of how it arises and the impact it leaves.  

It’s not unusual for women to come with me with an extremely unclear understanding of their worth.  

 They either shrug off their accomplishments or don’t even see the value in what they do. What’s interesting is that low self-worth and busy work that keeps women occupied (but doesn’t progress their career) often go hand in hand.  

 The thing with being busy is it’s incredibly validating. Ticking things off a list feels great. There’s that dopamine hit as we ‘prove’ our output and productivity. But just like a sugar rush, there’s a crash, and in this context the resulting erosion of boundaries breeds resentment and limits career progression. It also means they continue to show up as a do-er rather than a leader.  

 The other thing holding women back is a reluctance to delegate.  

 In some cases, it’s a flat out refusal. Instead of hand-balling appropriately to the relevant team members, some women find themselves doing the workload of an entire team. This is unsustainable and quite frankly insulting to their people, not to mention demoralising.  

 There’s only one way to move past this and that’s to learn to let go. Trust in other people’s abilities and allow them to step up and actually do the job you’ve engaged them to do.  

 Another inner block that keeps women stuck is a lack of clarity around their values and what matters most to them. As I detailed in this piece, sometimes women compare their current state of being with how they defined success in their 20s or 30s, and while their priorities shifted their approach didn’t. The end result is misalignment between their role and the way they see themselves, OR the way they see themselves and the way they intrinsically feel 

 Women are also held back by their own comfort zone.  

 They’re afraid to fail, afraid to be vulnerable and as a result they are unable to stretch and grow. Sometimes women simply lack confidence in their own abilities, which keeps them in their comfort zone. A great way to tackle this is to simply track your wins. We all have to do lists, but how many of us have ‘done, and done beautifully’ lists?  

 Internal blocks aren’t insurmountable. They require a level of self-awareness. I find that when I help women create a reflective practice they gain the perspective to see their blind spots, and then, in turn, put into place a plan of attack against them.  

 Almost always there’s a need to firstly manage expectations, both their own and those of others, and the next step?  Doing the work to quieten the inner critic, believe in your worth and build courage to back yourself.  

What’s holding you back?  

 If you’re like the women I work with, your inner blocks are something we can absolutely kick to the curb – just reach out. 

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Jane Benston

5 Tips for Blending Work and…

The days are getting warmer and the evenings longer which means we are on the downhill stretch to Christmas, the silly season and the end of the year.
And with restrictions finally lifted – it’s time to get out and about and connect… in person.

Jane Benston

Side view.Young businesswoman dressed in light pink shirt sitting at wooden table and using laptop while talking on cellphone.Girl uses digital gadget. On table cup of coffee. Online shopping,working.

A Change of Perception

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that an incredibly accomplished woman may find herself held back… Held back from achieving her aspirations, from stepping into her leadership potential and from becoming even more accomplished.

Jane Benston

Click below to…

Join “Leading Ladies” – a private FREE Facebook group of over 1600 other mid-career professional women to inspire and support
Join the newsletter list for weekly tips and strategies showing you how to ignite your career, lead your way and accelerate your success. 
Watch The Next Level Training to breakthrough to the next level of leadership, impact and recognition.  
Get my best tips on working smarter not harder 
Read my latest blog post.
Can’t find what you’re looking for? Contact my team.

How to break free of the Go-To Girl Syndrome

How to break free of the Go-To Girl Syndrome

I’ve had some incredibly enlightening conversations this week with smart, mid-career professional women who, like me, fell into the sneaky trap of being the notorious “go-to girl.” Maybe you can relate. Are you known as the Jack of all trades, the fix-it woman, or have you earned the label of “reliable”? Oh boy, it’s time to take a closer look.

Confession time: I used to proudly wear the “go-to girl” badge as if it were the ultimate mark of distinction. It fed my ego to know that people sought me out, recognising that I was the one who would always make time to help them.

But here’s the kicker—I had no clue just how much it was holding me back. Looking back now, I realise I was seen as a doer, not the remarkable leader I truly wanted to be.

Reflecting on my journey, I can’t help but recall a comment from an HR director about me “over mothering” the team. Let me tell you, it stung like a slap in the face back then. But now, with a fresh perspective, I understand that he was providing me with invaluable guidance on how I could step up and lead more effectively. Funny how life works, right? Sometimes, those seemingly hurtful remarks are the catalysts for profound self-discovery and growth.

So, if you’ve found yourself deep in the weeds as the go-to girl here’s what to do about it.

1. Recognise the Go-To Girl Pitfall

Now that we’re on the same page, let’s dive deeper into this notorious pitfall. Being the go-to girl might feel flattering, but it can become a double-edged sword. While it’s wonderful to be dependable and reliable, it can also lead to being pigeonholed and undervalued. It’s time to break free from this limited perception and step into your full leadership potential.

2. Unleash Your Leadership Mindset

Shifting from the go-to girl to an esteemed leader requires a mindset overhaul. It’s time to shed the belief that your worth is solely defined by being the problem solver. Embrace the idea that leadership is about inspiring, influencing, and creating meaningful impact. Believe in your capabilities and envision yourself as the influential leader you aspire to become.

3. Break free from the Go-To Girl Leadership Mould

Your Go-To Girl role may have defined you in the past, but it’s now time to release the expectations and limitations that come with that role. Embrace your uniqueness and craft your own leadership style. Reflect on your strengths, values, and passions. Define the type of leader you want to be and align your actions with that vision.

4. Shift your reputation by shifting your focus


If you want to change how others perceive you, it’s time to shift your focus. Instead of solely being the go-to girl who handles everything, redirect your attention towards strategic initiatives, team empowerment, and impactful contributions. By shifting your focus from being the problem solver to being a visionary leader, you’ll not only transform your reputation but also inspire others to see you in a new light.

5. Focus on Growth and Continuous Learning

Breaking free from the go-to girl role and unleashing your leadership superpowers takes courage and growth. It’s time to level up by mastering the art of delegation, embracing change with open arms, and empowering your team to do their best work. Say goodbye to spreading yourself too thin and hello to focusing on what truly matters. Trust in your team’s capabilities, confidently say no when necessary, and create a culture of innovation and growth. And make sure you’re aligning your time and effort with what matters most to the organisation.

Are you ready to shift from “go-to girl” to leader?

Bidding farewell to the role of the go-to girl starts with the simple decision to no longer play that part for your boss, your team and your organisation. Are you ready?

 

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Jane Benston

5 Tips for Blending Work and…

The days are getting warmer and the evenings longer which means we are on the downhill stretch to Christmas, the silly season and the end of the year.
And with restrictions finally lifted – it’s time to get out and about and connect… in person.

Jane Benston

Side view.Young businesswoman dressed in light pink shirt sitting at wooden table and using laptop while talking on cellphone.Girl uses digital gadget. On table cup of coffee. Online shopping,working.

A Change of Perception

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that an incredibly accomplished woman may find herself held back… Held back from achieving her aspirations, from stepping into her leadership potential and from becoming even more accomplished.

Jane Benston

Click below to…

Join “Leading Ladies” – a private FREE Facebook group of over 1600 other mid-career professional women to inspire and support
Join the newsletter list for weekly tips and strategies showing you how to ignite your career, lead your way and accelerate your success. 
Watch The Next Level Training to breakthrough to the next level of leadership, impact and recognition.  
Get my best tips on working smarter not harder 
Read my latest blog post.
Can’t find what you’re looking for? Contact my team.

Why Working Harder Isn’t Always the Answer: A Guide for Mid-Career Professional Women

Why Working Harder Isn't Always the Answer: A Guide for Mid-Career Professional Women

The mistake I see many mid-career professional women making is thinking that the way to be seen, heard, recognised and promoted is… to work harder and do more.   

I really don’t know how that would be possible though, because most of the professional women I speak to are already working super hard.  

But I get it. Over the years we’ve been told that success comes to those who work hard. 

Your strong work ethic, getting the job done and doing it well, was probably what got you to where you are today.  It may be what you are known for. It’s likely helped to open up some fabulous opportunities for you over the years. You may have even crafted a reputation as someone who is super helpful, reliable and dependable.  

But being helpful, useful and reliable is likely the very thing that is now holding you back.   

It was great in the early years of your career but if you want to be seen as an impactful leader it will keep you stuck at the level, you’re at.   

Take a look at the leaders who you admire. And think about this for a moment... 

Are they stuck in the day to day, busy doing low value tasks? 

NO, they are not!   

The brutal truth is that working harder and doing more is more likely to lead to burnout than respect, recognition or an amazing job offer.  

So, you may be wondering… how do you get to that next level of leadership, impact and recognition?  

It starts with DOING LESS and dedicating more time and energy to actually LEADING.   

It may seem counterintuitive at first. How can you get ahead when you are actually DOING less? 

It’s quite simple really. When you’re busy being busy you’ve got no time or head space to truly lead.   

Leadership is about setting the vision, making impactful decisions, solving the big problems and focusing on progressing projects that will support the growth and sustainability of the business. It’s about building and leading high performing teams and supporting and mentoring people to perform at their best.   

All of these activities require space to think.   

So that’s exactly where you need to start – by creating the space to think and lead.   

That means taking back control of your calendar. I recommend that my clients start by clearing the clutter, removing unnecessary meetings and creating at least 1 or 2 chunks of time each week which they dedicate to focusing on the big picture work of leadership.  

It means setting boundaries.  

It means saying NO to the busy work so you can focus on the work that matters.  

But first… 

Do you actually know what work matters most to you, your team and the organisation?   

If you want your talents and capabilities to be recognised, it’s important you’re prioritising based on what matters most to your boss (and their boss!)  Too often I see women lost in the weeds of the day to day and not focused on the work that is in alignment with the organisations goals, and then wonder why they are being overlooked for promotion or interesting projects.  

Recognition will come from DOING LESS, creating space to think, and focusing your efforts on what matters most to the organisation and doing work that supports the business goals.   

And finally – we cant overlook the importance of making time and space prioritise you.   

Being happy, healthy and well rested is a prerequisite for great leadership. It supports productivity, is the foundation of creativity and is essential to enable you to show up as the best version of you!  

Taking time out for you is not a luxury – it’s a necessity. As is getting enough sleep, making sure you move your body, and doing what you need to do to quieten your mind and nurture your spirit.  

So, let me ask you…. 

Do you really want to stay stuck in the day-to-day busyness, working really hard – but not getting the recognition you deserve?  

Or is it time to break free of this pattern and finally step up to the next level of leadership, impact and recognition – not by doing more but by doing less?   

 

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Jane Benston

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And with restrictions finally lifted – it’s time to get out and about and connect… in person.

Jane Benston

Side view.Young businesswoman dressed in light pink shirt sitting at wooden table and using laptop while talking on cellphone.Girl uses digital gadget. On table cup of coffee. Online shopping,working.

A Change of Perception

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that an incredibly accomplished woman may find herself held back… Held back from achieving her aspirations, from stepping into her leadership potential and from becoming even more accomplished.

Jane Benston

Click below to…

Join “Leading Ladies” – a private FREE Facebook group of over 1600 other mid-career professional women to inspire and support
Join the newsletter list for weekly tips and strategies showing you how to ignite your career, lead your way and accelerate your success. 
Watch The Next Level Training to breakthrough to the next level of leadership, impact and recognition.  
Get my best tips on working smarter not harder 
Read my latest blog post.
Can’t find what you’re looking for? Contact my team.

The Farm Girl Who Cares

The farm girl who cares

I’m a leadership coach for mid-career women who want to step up to the next level of leadership … without burning out or selling out. I’ve spent my career in the corporate space working with incredible people across the country.  

 However, my first ‘job’ was not even remotely corporate. It was helping Mum and Dad out in the paddocks mustering stock or in the sheep yards drafting sheep. Yes, my work wardrobe of grossly unflattering hospital and retail uniforms or corporate suit and heels was a far cry from gumboots!  

 My first pay check didn’t come from working in McDonald’s or the local café, but rather from selling my pet lambs and calves at market, that I’d hand feed each day before and after school. 

 I’m a farm girl, born and bred.  

 People are sometimes surprised when I share that I grew up on a sheep and cattle farm. I’m not exactly sure why. I know there are a lot of misconceptions about what farm life actually is. There are those romanticised depictions of rural serenity, a slow pace, an Old MacDonald-esque life that’s all about animals and hard work. 

 Of course, these aren’t inaccurate, but in reality, farming is all about people. Farming is teamwork, everyone pitches in when there’s a job to be done and farming communities are well known for their sense of … well, community.  

 My career off the farm actually started out in the health sector as an Occupational Therapist – firstly in the UK and then back in Melbourne.  

 Next came working for 2 INCREDIBLE young women in a fast-growing, award-winning service-based business – where my role was to negotiate win, win solutions to support injured workers return to work.  

 From here I moved to the corporate world in the space of health and safety, traveling to big cities and smaller towns across Australia to work with leaders and their teams.  

 I’ve written about my path to leadership coaching here, but when I reflect on my career, theoretically leagues away from the ‘industry’ of farming, at the core of my work is people, specifically a deep care for their wellbeing within the context of meeting their potential.  

 Every role, from that of graduate OT through to leader in the aforementioned ugly hospital culottes to the suit and heels, has, to put it mildly, involved creating the environment for humans to flourish.  

 My work today continues to encompass this.  

 Having experienced the polar opposite of flourishing, aka burnout, my work is now centred around women avoiding the pitfalls that come with being a high achiever without a roadmap to a successful, fulfilling and rewarding career.   

 I help women achieve their goals and aspirations in a way that doesn’t involve them working harder. On the whole, the women I meet are already working ridiculously hard with phenomenal work ethics.  I show them how they can have a much bigger impact at the leadership table by actually “Doing” less. 

 And I’m passionate about supporting women to “Lead Their Way.”  This means digging deep on their values, their aspirations, the way they see themselves and aligning their professional life to this, and not the other way around. It’s also about finding a leadership style that works for them – rather than trying to fit into an outdated or overly masculine style of leadership that is out of step with who they are at their core.  

 So, in a nutshell… my farming girl start in life has led me to the work I do today.  

 I help mid-career women to up level their career in a way that enables them to flourish, not just survive. If I’m the leadership coach/farm girl to help you get to where you want to be, please reach out. I’d love to work with you! 

LET'S CONNECT

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Jane Benston

Side view.Young businesswoman dressed in light pink shirt sitting at wooden table and using laptop while talking on cellphone.Girl uses digital gadget. On table cup of coffee. Online shopping,working.

A Change of Perception

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that an incredibly accomplished woman may find herself held back… Held back from achieving her aspirations, from stepping into her leadership potential and from becoming even more accomplished.

Jane Benston

Click below to…

Join “Leading Ladies” – a private FREE Facebook group of over 1600 other mid-career professional women to inspire and support
Join the newsletter list for weekly tips and strategies showing you how to ignite your career, lead your way and accelerate your success. 
Watch The Next Level Training to breakthrough to the next level of leadership, impact and recognition.  
Get my best tips on working smarter not harder 
Read my latest blog post.
Can’t find what you’re looking for? Contact my team.

Know you need to build better boundaries? Here’s how.

Know you need to build better boundaries? Here’s how.

[jc_buttons]

Time for a truth bomb: You won’t get what you want. You get what you tolerate. Harsh, I know, but it’s so true.  

 Standards that aren’t aligned to your expectations of how you should be treated are a surefire way to limit your leadership potential and leave you working far too hard and in a way that depletes and drains you.  

 It’s an easy fix, relatively speaking. It’s time to put up boundaries. Not wishy-washy, ‘here if you need’ tentative boundaries, but firm, don’t mess with me boundaries.  

I like to call them barbed wire boundaries!  

(There’s that farm girl coming out again!)  

 There’s a fundamental practice and perception shift when we move from an implementer role (the DOER) to one of leadership. We no longer have the dopamine hit from the to-do list and so we need to replace it with leadership practices that give that hit, but not in a way that holds us back and keeps us stuck in the busy. What better way to protect our greatest asset, our time, than by metaphorically encircling it with barbed wire? 

 Boundaries create structure and protect us from scope creep and overwhelm. They allow us to focus on what matters most, and in leadership it’s that deep focus time and space.  

 I have many strategies that bring to life my barbed wire boundaries concept to enable women to move into the visionary, change-making work that signifies their leadership. 

 Here are a few strategies for building and maintaining Barbed Wire Boundaries. 

 First up: my world famous (in my IGNITE circle anyway!) 90 minute white space strategy.  

 This is 2 x 90 minute blocks of time within a weekly schedule that are untouchable. These are for deep thinking and high level work. Nothing, nothing can encroach on this time. There is no excuse big enough to remove it from the schedule, pending fire, flood or locusts. (Or perhaps a specific urgent request from the CEO!) 

During these protected 90-minute periods of deep thinking time, it is a really good idea to have the phone on do not disturb because every notification ping equals a loss of focus. My clients have achieved some incredible work from my 90 minute white space strategy, including:  

  • Mapping out a team strategy day 
  • Overhauling a customer experience process that was actually causing a poor customer experience 
  • Completing their annual performance review – focusing in on how they would position themselves for a pay rise.  

 We teach people how to treat us and what we tolerate.  

 This can happen by default or accident, or we can mindfully and intentionally craft this. If we’re always available and ‘on’ then we’re always available. My 90 minute white space strategy only works when it’s untouchable. That means it’s not OK for people to waltz into your space to ask you about something during those 90 minutes.  

 Obviously, when you’ve been the go-to girl, there’s some bad habits to break. People will expect you to be accessible, but you know what? They’ll get over it. I asked some of my Ignite Ladies how they enforce barbed wire boundaries around their 90 minute white space blocks as well as their broader work.  

 This answer cracked me up:  

 ‘Noise cancelling headphones. Not those tiny little AirPods that are invisible until someone’s up close, but the big, over the ears, ‘back off’ ones.’ 

 Another likes to …  ‘Head to my local café.  I grab a coffee or two and immerse in thinking, planning and problem solving.’ 

 Beyond my white space strategy, boundaries are important across all facets of our leadership.  

 As we know, there’s no ‘I’ in team, so stop putting your hand up to people’s requests for help.  

 One of my clients has a strategy where she’s asked her team to present issues in a way that’s not simply hand balling them to her to fix. Instead, when sharing an issue, it’s in the structure of 1 problem/issue, 2-3 solutions and 1 recommendation. Boom! 

 When it’s time off, it’s time off.  

 I encourage women to take time away from work, and this means really stepping away. The phone must be off, emails unchecked. On this – I’ve had clients take the step of removing their email from their phone, initially as an attempt to have a holiday, and then leave emails permanently off as a strategy to protect their boundaries. I like it!  

 Another woman who had previously been known as the go-to girl … for just about everything from creating beautiful Powerpoint slides, solving pesky tech issues to facilitating the most difficult, high level global consultation processes, made it clear that she was 100% UNAVAILABLE when she took an entire month off at Christmas.  Issues came up but she didn’t rush in to fix them.  The team handled it all and nothing broke in her absence.  

 If you do need to be contacted, communicate your preference as to how! If you hate after hours phone calls and would prefer an email, communicate that clearly with your team. More importantly, don’t answer the phone! Your email signature is also a good place to set boundaries. I’ve seen signatures with messages that detail clearly when people can expect a response, beautifully setting expectations and role modelling barbed wire boundaries.  

 How are your boundaries?  

 Are they flimsy and susceptible to falling over? Or are they impenetrable, protecting your time, headspace and your wellbeing? If you’d like some help with creating barbed wire boundaries, please reach out. 

[jc_buttons]

LET'S CONNECT

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Jane Benston

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The days are getting warmer and the evenings longer which means we are on the downhill stretch to Christmas, the silly season and the end of the year.
And with restrictions finally lifted – it’s time to get out and about and connect… in person.

Jane Benston

Side view.Young businesswoman dressed in light pink shirt sitting at wooden table and using laptop while talking on cellphone.Girl uses digital gadget. On table cup of coffee. Online shopping,working.

A Change of Perception

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that an incredibly accomplished woman may find herself held back… Held back from achieving her aspirations, from stepping into her leadership potential and from becoming even more accomplished.

Jane Benston

Click below to…

Join “Leading Ladies” – a private FREE Facebook group of over 1600 other mid-career professional women to inspire and support
Join the newsletter list for weekly tips and strategies showing you how to ignite your career, lead your way and accelerate your success. 
Watch The Next Level Training to breakthrough to the next level of leadership, impact and recognition.  
Get my best tips on working smarter not harder 
Read my latest blog post.
Can’t find what you’re looking for? Contact my team.

The danger of the shoulder tap

The danger of the shoulder tap

[jc_buttons]

From the time we enter the workforce, we’re programmed to believe that being headhunted is a good thing. We work hard for our talent to be recognised by the powers that be, in the hope that they simply can’t help but throw opportunities our way!  

 The problem with this is it’s a really passive way to build a career.  

Waiting to be tapped on the shoulder can work well in your earlier years.  It certainly did for me.  For about 15 years I worked in a large corporate business where I found an abundance of opportunities.   

 Or should I say the opportunities found me.   

 Every couple of years there would be a major business restructure, landing me in a new role, a new department or a completely different part of the business.  I didn’t need to look too far for the next promotion or challenge to come knocking on my door.   

 All I needed was to put myself in the right place to be seen and wait to be tapped on the shoulder.  And just like a cat with 9 lives – when the dust settled, I always found myself in a better position than before.   

 I’ve spoken to many women who tell me that their career has been one of default rather than design – with new opportunities being offered to them even when they aren’t really looking.  

 But something seems to happen in mid-career.  The opportunities tend to dry up and many good women are left feeling overlooked and thinking they are on the fast track to… well… nowhere, really.   

 They are still doing really great work – but they have fallen into the trap of believing that working hard and striving for excellence is enough to take them to the next level of leadership.  But it’s not.  At this level of leadership, doing great work is expected.  It’s a given.    

 What it takes to be seen as the obvious candidate for your dream executive role is not your hard work… but rather your leadership!  

 Being helpful, useful and reliable was what got you into your current role – but being valuable will get you to the next.   

 So, if that’s what you want, it might be time to get out of the passenger seat (or even the boot) and back into the driver’s seat of your career.  You need to be in control, managing your reputation, building strategic relationships and positioning yourself for what you want.  

 Leaving your career at the mercy of people noticing you is hugely problematic.  In the words of Alice in Wonderland, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.” 

 There are THREE major problems I see when women set their career on autopilot. 

  1. Reliance on others

 Leaving your career progression in the hands of others is fraught with danger.  No one should care more about your career than you.   

 I have seen far too many smart women who are waiting for the shoulder tap, being overlooked.  They have allowed other people to make decisions and value judgements about their capacities that are based on generalisations or inaccuracies.  

 No-one in my Leading Ladies group is surprised when someone discloses they’ve been overlooked for their dream role because ‘someone’ decided they wouldn’t be interested because of their family status or because they are already super busy or because they never shared their aspirations for a more senior role.  Ugh. 

2. Opportunity blindness  

 Waiting for or relying on the shoulder tap can make women blind to opportunities. They’re simply not in the habit of actively seeking them out. When you know what it is that you want, you’ll start seeing opportunities all around you.  But it starts with getting really clear on what you want and taking action steps towards that goal.  

 Without this, you can be put up for roles that you’re highly suited to, well within your capabilities, but is there room for growth? Is it a role you’re actually attracted to?   

  3.  Land in the wrong place

 Across the corporate world, people are identified as ‘high potential’ talent and offered space in leadership programs without being asked if they actually want to lead other humans, or offered roles that they can do but aren’t exactly passionate about.   

 If you’ve found yourself down a career path that doesn’t fill you with excitement – then perhaps it’s because it’s not actually aligned to your greatest strengths and your deeper vision values.  You may have moved into the role to fill a need the business had rather than stepping into a role that was a great fit for who you are and what you truly want to be doing.  

 Of course, being tapped on the shoulder feels amazing and is a valid career growth strategy.  

 It means you have people ready to open doors for you and advocate for you to executives you may not have access to in the same timeframe or with the same level of ease. But it’s important to notice when it’s your only strategy. Waiting to be tapped on the shoulder takes you out of the driving seat of your own career.  

 It’s a much more beneficial and rewarding process to decide what you want and go after it! 

 Don’t wait to be tapped on the shoulder my work with mid-career women is all about making informed choices. I help women achieve success as defined by them, on their terms, without burning out or selling their souls. Shall we chat about how I could help you design your career? Let’s do it! 

[jc_buttons]

LET'S CONNECT

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Side view.Young businesswoman dressed in light pink shirt sitting at wooden table and using laptop while talking on cellphone.Girl uses digital gadget. On table cup of coffee. Online shopping,working.

A Change of Perception

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that an incredibly accomplished woman may find herself held back… Held back from achieving her aspirations, from stepping into her leadership potential and from becoming even more accomplished.

Jane Benston

Click below to…

Join “Leading Ladies” – a private FREE Facebook group of over 1600 other mid-career professional women to inspire and support
Join the newsletter list for weekly tips and strategies showing you how to ignite your career, lead your way and accelerate your success. 
Watch The Next Level Training to breakthrough to the next level of leadership, impact and recognition.  
Get my best tips on working smarter not harder 
Read my latest blog post.
Can’t find what you’re looking for? Contact my team.

My guiding word for 2023

My guiding word for 2023

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One little fact about me that you probably already know is that I love creating space and time to set goals and build a plan. Setting aside specific time to create an annual, high level plan, and a more specific 90 day plan is non-negotiable with me and I’m completely lost and unproductive if I don’t create my weekly success plan.

Clarity is power. And focus is magic.

In recent years I’ve included picking a word for the year to guide me.

This one word has set an overall intention that guides me throughout the year and supports my growth.

Last year, after a few years of isolation and separation my word of the year was CONNECTION.  

My word CONNECTION helped me to push through my introverted tendency and embrace more opportunities to connect. I joined a book club, built stronger online relationships, attended in person events even when it felt hard or inconvenient, I prioritised precious time with family and committed to reconnecting with myself, my health and truly understanding who I am and what I want in life. 

It influenced my day to day decisions, the action I took, where I invested my time and energy, how I wanted to feel and ultimately supported me to have a year where I felt truly connected. 

So after much reflection, I’ve decided on my word for this year which is… 

ASK

• Ask for support 

• Ask for what I want 

• Ask help to find solutions and help to problem solve

• Ask – AKA – delegate to my team 

• Ask for feedback

And in the process I will… 

• Let go of my fierce independence and the need to prove that I am capable and recognise when my ego gets in the way.  

• Embrace vulnerability and step into being 100% ok with being a learner who is willing to do it messy and likely to make mistakes.  

• Become a person who seeks feedback … without being self critical or beating myself up when areas of improvement are identified. 

I’m excited about how my 2023 word will influence my year… while also feeling challenged and stretched by what it will require of me.

And that’s the point. 

The word I choose each year is designed to disrupt the status quo and support me to stretch and grow.

Do you have a word of the year? 

[jc_buttons]

LET'S CONNECT

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Jane Benston

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The days are getting warmer and the evenings longer which means we are on the downhill stretch to Christmas, the silly season and the end of the year.
And with restrictions finally lifted – it’s time to get out and about and connect… in person.

Jane Benston

Side view.Young businesswoman dressed in light pink shirt sitting at wooden table and using laptop while talking on cellphone.Girl uses digital gadget. On table cup of coffee. Online shopping,working.

A Change of Perception

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that an incredibly accomplished woman may find herself held back… Held back from achieving her aspirations, from stepping into her leadership potential and from becoming even more accomplished.

Jane Benston

Click below to…

Join “Leading Ladies” – a private FREE Facebook group of over 1600 other mid-career professional women to inspire and support
Join the newsletter list for weekly tips and strategies showing you how to ignite your career, lead your way and accelerate your success. 
Watch The Next Level Training to breakthrough to the next level of leadership, impact and recognition.  
Get my best tips on working smarter not harder 
Read my latest blog post.
Can’t find what you’re looking for? Contact my team.