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How to dream bigger when it comes to your career

As someone whose goal is to find a career that allows me to write from bed and doesn’t require me to wear real pants ever (check!), I don’t unusually spend much time fantasizing about going into the office. That said, the results of a new study are really bumming me out. Despite being ambitious in their careers, only a minority of Canadian women think they have what it takes to break into top-earning, corner-office jobs in the corporate world.

More: 8 Ways to keep your boss happy without sacrificing your sanity

While about half of Canadian women described themselves as ambitious and motivated to advance their career, in a study by American Express Canada and Women of Influence, only about 30 per cent think they can reach C-Suite executive level, while under a third even want to. These results are a bit of a head-scratcher, as women’s career motivations don’t seem to line up with the same level of confidence in the workplace. And why aren’t women even aspiring to snag the big jobs?

No one’s entirely sure. But let’s dream big. Follow these tips to advance your career:

Find a mentor

The study found that the majority of Canadian women don’t have someone to champion their career and help them move forward. Just over a quarter of women entrepreneurs have mentors, which really isn’t very good. Look around your industry for people whose jobs you envy, and chat them up at networking events. If you find someone you connect with, don’t be afraid to ask them if they’d be interested in mentoring you.

Buffy Summers and her mentor Giles

Find your own version of success

Over 70 per cent of women define success as “loving what you do,” while under half defined it as meeting financial goals. But those two things don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

More: Your boss knows you’re lying when you use these words

“Because every woman’s definition of success is different, organizations should strive to enable and empower their workforce to carve their own individual career path,” says Stephania Varalli, co-CEO of Women of Influence. “Women of course want to show ambition, but they also want to stay true to their core values, like work-life balance.”

Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself if you need more flexibility in the workplace to balance family responsibilities. Find what works for you, even if that’s not a traditional 9-to-5 shift.

Veep giph

Whip your sig other into shape

It may be 2016, but women still bear the brunt of domestic labour, and many feel it’s holding them back in the workplace. A recent report by the Randstad Women Shaping Business Study found that three-quarters of Canadian women work below the management level, and 50 per cent feel their bosses aren’t promoting them because of absences related to family obligations. In the American Express Canada and Women of Influence Study, nearly half of women reported taking on more responsibilities at home than their partner does — and over 70 per cent of these women were primary breadwinners. For those with domestic partners, now would be a good time to whip them into shape and demand they contribute their share. Raising a family on your own? Try connecting with other women doing the same so you can be one another’s support systems, rotating babysitting and school pick-ups and drop-offs.

While there are plenty of unfair factors that keep women lagging behind men in the workplace, it’s up to us to advocate on our behalf. Because otherwise that dude playing Angry Birds on his iPhone during meetings might just land your job.

More: How to make your career dreams a reality

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