Let’s face it — COVID-19 had put so many in a slump they never thought they’d be in. Life before “the new normal” might have been tough enough for people already down on their luck for whatever reason, but if someone didn’t get laid off due to extended closures due to the pandemic, that person is most likely working harder than ever before from home — especially if that person is a career woman with children.
A recent study from McKinsey & Company on women in the workplace found that COVID-19 has disrupted many of the trends found in the past six years of surveying a quarter of a million people in 600 companies about workplace experience. Employed women with children are now essentially working double shifts. Mothers are three times more likely than fathers to be responsible for housework and childcare, and 76 percent of mothers with children under 10 say childcare is one of their top-three challenges during the pandemic, compared to 54 percent of fathers with young kids.
Needless to say, trying to give 100 percent 1000 percent of the time in all aspects of your life is literally trying to achieve the impossible, and feeling like a constant failure will certainly lead to frustration and depression — something that can feel impossible to get out of. As one woman who is a VP of a company with two kids ages 7 and 11 commented on the McKinsey survey: “I feel like I’m failing at everything. I’m failing at work. I’m failing at my duties as a mom. I’m failing in every single way, because I think that what we’re being asked to do is impossible. How can you continue to perform at the same level as in the office when you had no distractions, plus being asked to basically become a teacher for the kids and everything else with online learning? I’m doing it all, but at the same time, I feel like I’m not doing any of it well.”
Turning Failure Into Greatness
Top career and life coach and mother of two young kids, Maxine Nwaneri definitely feels the pain these women are feeling because she has been there herself. In fact, she’s been through many slumps that not too many people get out of. Things like addiction, near-death experiences and homelessness are slumps that Maxine not only got out of but thrived off of.
She rose out of all that to become a top leader in the tech financing industry, a wonderful mother, and founder of her company The Future Is Greater which has positively impacted clients from literally all over the world and enabled her to donate over $100,000 to widows, orphans, and others in need.
With her experience with massive slumps, she shares her wisdom on how she was able to lift herself up not to just survive in this world — but to thrive in it.
A Million Possibilities
When people are in the slump of feeling like they are failing at everything, their mindset is in a really bad place. Their perspective is off. They start believing that this is all there is and all there ever will be. They start to see themselves in an endless cycle of bad things. However, this isn’t all there is.
There’s always more to things than meets the eye. At this very moment, there’s a million possibilities for the future of your life, but when you’re focused on the wrong things, it’s harder to see the bigger picture. Focusing on minuscule things makes you blind to bigger possibilities — whether you are in a slump because you’re unemployed or overworked.
But how is it even possible to see beyond day-to-day survival when you can’t pay your bills or you’re living in your car? Maxine helps her clients do this by creating a space for them to shift their focus from “peanut to possibilities” thinking. This is based on the theory that everything you can see, the mountains, stars and even you, are made of of atoms, the building block of our world, and when you look closely at an atom, if the part of the atom you can see is the size of a peanut, the part that you can’t see would be the size of a huge sports stadium.
So, even if your situation looks impossible to overcome, Maxine says there are a million possibilities that exist beyond what the eye can see. She suggests a great way to begin to tap into this realm is to do your best to forget your current situation for a moment and ask yourself if anything were possible what would I create? Helping her clients make this shift in extremely challenging situations has led to them achieving extraordinary results like receiving a promotion and pay increase while also negotiating a shorter working week to achieve better work-life balance and more time with family.
Ask the Better Questions
This is a simple skill you can start practicing that produces amazing results. Most of us don’t ask the right questions and because of that, our brain isn’t wired to find the right solutions. For example, when Maxine was homeless, there was a point where someone had told her that she just needed to work for a pimp and become a prostitute because of where her life was headed. The automatic response for her was: “How can this be my life? How can this be my only choice?”
The answer was simple: She made one bad decision after another until it snowballed to where she was homeless and ended up in this position where this was seemingly her only choice. It wasn’t until she started asking herself, how can I get out of this situation, when she started getting better answers and better solutions.
Who else can do this?
Maxine suggests a great question she learned from one of her mentors to ask yourself, especially if you are in a slump right now due to being overworked is: “Who else can do this?” Just because something has to be done does not mean you have to do it. So many women feel like they have to do it all and be everything to everyone, but that simply is not the case — or even humanly possible. Getting great at asking this question often and then asking for help can be totally life transforming.
What am I the best in the world at?
Another great question Maxine suggests that would benefit those who are looking for new employment or opportunities is “What am I the best in the world at?” Asking yourself this could well lead you to your next income-generating opportunity. She also adds that most people initially think something along the lines of “nothing” or “I’m not sure” as there can be a tendency to think everyone is good at what you are brilliant at, or that it’s not that special. So for this question, Maxine also recommends asking people close to you, who know you well, and that you trust, as they may share some surprising insights about your genius.
The higher-level the question, the more solution-oriented the answer. This is always the first step and probably one of the most important. Without it, you don’t have the awareness to move forward.
Don’t Be Afraid to Reach Out to People Even If They Intimidate You
When you’re in a slump, it’s easy to think that things won’t work for you. However, someone else is winning with the same cards you were dealt with. Don’t try and reinvent the wheel all by yourself. Other people have already been where you’ve been, and they’ve left their footprints. Look to learn from them — try reaching out to them even if they intimidate you or you think they’re way out of your league.
“Every leap I’ve made has been from one of those scary reach-outs to people I was intimidated by,” Maxine says. “The worst that can happen is they say no. In that case, you move on to the next.”
Reading books and listening to mentors you admire on podcasts can also help. There’s tons of information out there in today’s day and age, and in that information, there can be one major nugget that makes all of the difference in your life (just like reading this article might do as well).
Right now, you might be in the same slump that so many working women and unemployed women are facing today in this “new normal” — and that’s okay. But It’s not okay to stay there. The tips above can help you move forward as long as you’re willing to take that jump.