1. Resist perfectionism! Many women hold themselves back because they feel they are not “ready” to go to the next level. Once they are perfect (have the right amount of experience, the correct degree, and have mastered their current job 100 percent) then they will consider pushing upward. Men, on the other hand, are far more likely to “go for it,” even if they are not completely ready. Don’t wait until you are perfect. It is an unattainable goal. Ask yourself: “Am I good enough right now to take my business to the next level?”
2. Learn how to negotiate. This is a learnable skill! Just because you have never negotiated in the past doesn’t mean you can’t learn to negotiate and even become comfortable with it. It can be as simple as just asking for more. The next time you are offered money, practice responding: “Well, because of this [skill required, hours required, experience required], it feels like [$60,000] would be more appropriate.” See how they respond. Negotiating is merely a conversation and there is no reason why it can’t be win-win.
3. Increase your risk tolerance. Women are notorious for not risking enough. We wait until we are ready, until we feel comfortable, or until it is safe to proceed. We need to take more chances in the workplace. Try things that might make you feel uncomfortable- volunteer for a plumb assignment before a male colleague sweeps in, or ask for things that are not necessarily advertised as available. It will be difficult to rise in your career if you have a hard time taking risks. Start by exercising your risk muscle in small ways, and your ability to risk will grow.
4. Raise your pay expectations. It’s fairly simple. If you expect more money, you are likely to get more money. Women need to set their pay expectations higher. Too often they are satisfied with making money that is below their true earning potential. Part of this is because we feel we don’t deserve more. And part of this is because we don’t know the objective value of our work. Try this to raise your expectations: find out what other people earn who do what you do by looking at salary.com, or other salary websites. If you are self-employed, make a series of anonymous “rate-checking” calls. What you find might surprise you. Expect more.
5. Examine your feelings about the wealthy. Many people are raised with a lot of negativity about wealthy people and wealth in general. While this may have been a form of “sour grapes” on our parent’s part, when we grow up hearing the wealthy are greedy, insensitive, or feel superior to us, it makes it difficult to welcome wealth in our own lives. Subconsciously, we would never let ourselves become that which we despise. Try this: look for positive examples of wealth in the media. Find examples of people who are doing good things with their money. This will help you change your associations to wealth.
6. Fight the Romance Myth. The Romance Myth is the myth that we, as women, will be taken care of. If we put our families first, and sacrifice our personal ambitions and goals, we will be taken care of financially, both now and in retirement. We don’t have to focus on maximizing our earning power. With half of all marriages ending in divorce, we must address this thinking. By falling prey to this myth, we put ourselves at terrible risk, because when Prince Charming evaporates, we are left holding the pieces. Don’t loose sight of your career, even if you are out of the workforce for a while with small children. Stay in touch with colleagues, take classes, and stay updated on your field.
7. Know how much money you need to make. It’s amazing how many people run around saying “I need to make more money!” But how much more? The clearer the goal, the greater the probability you will achieve it. If you know exactly how much money you need to live life the way you want, you are far more likely to earn that amount. E-mail me at Mikelann@womenearning.com, if you would like an excel-based “earnings plan” to work with. (This concept is explained in my Why Women Earn Less book.)
8. Say no to debt. Debt creates the illusion that there is more money available in our lives than what we earn. Many people use credit cards indiscriminately here and there, and this added “income” can stave off the dreaded question of whether we are making enough money or not. Image not having the ability to borrow money from any source at any time. What would happen? Some people would be very stressed, because they would be faced with the fact that they weren’t earning enough money. But facing this is exactly what we must do. When we have access to debt (or assets we can draw on whenever we like) we have little incentive to maximize our earning potential. Live on what you earn. Say no to debt.