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Doing it all in the age of the alpha female

Joanna Brinjak Furlong has been writing professionally since 2002. Originally from Arizona, Joanna now resides in Los Angeles. She works in marketing for a travel company by day, and writes and consults on the side. Joanna enjoys intervi...

Getting things done

Being an alpha female is not a template vision for all. Rather, this concept of doing it all and fulfilling goals to lead a happy, healthy life is deeply unique to each of us. “It starts with knowing what you want, what your needs are,” advises life coach Beverly Flaxington, founder and CEO of The Collaborative, a sales and marketing consulting firm based in Boston. She is speaker, author, expert on human behavior and career coach. Wishing you could stop talking and start acting? Beverly shares advice on how to hone in on your true priorities, get things done and change your life for the better.

Woman making to do list

First step: map out goals and obstacles

“Visualize what you want out of life, and be as granular as possible," Flaxington says. This could mean having time to go to bed at 9 p.m. three nights a week, or it could be having more assistance around the house, making time to exercise or earning a meatier income. Whatever it is that you want to accomplish — visualize it, draw it out or make a list. The more specific you are, the better, as this will assist you with attacking and acknowledging your obstacles.

What are the obstacles toward achieving your goals? Don’t just think in the obvious financial realm (“Gee, hiring a maid service will mean $200 more in bills each month!"), but think about relationships, resources, even your own attitude, as well as what things may need to be let go of to pave the path for what matters more to you in life.

Next: prioritize to get things done

There’s a lot to be said about our to-do lists; they’re actually powerful tools to stay organized, track progress and keep your sanity. “Take your list every single day and prioritize it," Beverly coaches. “Put it in order, but in order to do that, you must first know your goals. Highlight your top three priorities every single day."

It’s so common to get pulled and distracted every single day from what you really want to accomplish or do. “We’ve all been there," she says. “We start to do one thing and then an hour goes by, and we realize we’ve been on Facebook for all that time! Or maybe we’ve been doing something productive, but it’s not our number-one priority that day. A to-do list helps to force you to stay aware and present about the decisions you’re making."

The second part of the to-do list strategy is to break things down into manageable chunks. This is particularly important in achieving the bigger stretch goals. For example, Beverly knew she wanted to write a book, but with three kids, traveling, teaching and speaking, she didn’t simply write “Write a book" on her to-do list. Instead, she had daily and weekly goals for accomplishing parts of the book-writing process.

Be aware of the choices you’re making each day

If your inner skeptic is wondering what the real deal is, then change your self-talk and realize it’s all about choices. “We [women] are wired to give," Beverly says. “We tend to have this resistance that, until everything and everyone else is settled, only then do we worry about what matters to us. Taking care of others is a default for us. But we need to catch ourselves."

For example, think to yourself, “I am choosing this right now. I feel really great when this task is getting done."

Women need to be accountable for the choices they make and the guilt they may put on themselves for those choices. This may mean asking for more help. It may mean saying no. And it certainly means being clear about what you need and setting expectations — versus assuming that someone can read your mind and knows what you want done.

Finally, enjoy the rewards

“When you’re accomplishing something that is meaningful for you, and that you want to be doing, you can have a feeling of confidence and of being in the right place," Beverly says. “Sure, there are lots of things I don’t do, but I don’t want to be doing them." This links back to the choices you’re making every day. Know that it’s okay to not do it all — because you’re really going to end up doing all the things that are meaningful for you, and that’s what counts at the end of each day.

"We have a lot more personal power and ability than we take advantage of. This is about practicing new behaviors. This is making a commitment to say ‘I am worth it,’ I am going to do this differently."

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