10 Powerful Women Share Their Secrets to Success, Sanity, and Balance

Truth: the demands of a solo small business or a side hustle can produce nuclear levels of stress. The odds seem stacked against you — you don't want to fail so you question your decisions, you really just want to quit that corporate gig but don't have enough of a cash flow to make the leap, and there are never enough hours in the day to get essential tasks done. But instead of throwing yourself a pity party, you slither into that new dress you could almost afford, arm yourself with your sexiest sky-high "omg-how-is-she-walking-in-those" leather stilettos and strut through the day like you own it. Why? Because damn girl, independence looks hella good on you.


Knowing that you are (or will be) working for yourself — and not "the man" — is an incredible driving force. One that will catapult your determination once you get a taste of success, no matter how small or incremental. When this site hit 1,000 views, all I wanted to do was blog and put on my party dress. One thousand views is nothing compared to the traffic I'd see in my pro blogging job, but I was p-u-m-p-e-d. Never mind that I got four hours of sleep, was on my second cup of coffee before the sun rises and have a Santa Claus-sized task list to complete before the end of the day. 

But if success's demands start grinding your energy and spirit to the point of a total Level 5 Meltdown, look to other women who have made reaching their goals seem effortless. Their secret? It's not fucking effortless. Shit happens, it's hard, and you just keep going. Check out these words of wisdom from women who are managing their overwhelm like a champ below, but please share yours in the comments!


"Redefine failure." 

Rhonda Abrams, USA Today and ThePlanningShop on learning to adapt.

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"Now, I certainly wouldn’t lie but I wasn’t going around giving speeches on it. I was showing everyone I worked for that I worked just as hard. I was getting up earlier to make sure they saw my emails at 5:30, staying up later to make sure they saw my emails late. But now I’m much more confident in where I am and so I’m able to say, “Hey! I am leaving work at 5:30.” And I say it very publicly, both internally and externally" 

Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, on setting and sticking to a schedule.


"Our lives are a mixture of different roles. Most of us are doing the best we can to find whatever the right balance is . . . For me, that balance is family, work, and service." 

- Hillary Clinton on finding balance.


"Be everywhere you need to be when you have to. I have no regrets." 

Irene Rosenfeld, Kraft Foods, on never having regrets.

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"When you do something you're not ready to do, that's when you push yourself and you grow. It's when you sort of move through that moment of discomfort of, 'Wow, what have I gotten myself into this time?" 

- Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo, on discovering your limits.

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"Remember that you can do anything you want to do. Don't let anyone say, 'You're not smart enough ... it's too hard ... it's a dumb idea ... no one has done that before ... girls don't do that.' My mom gave me that advice in 1973. And it allowed me to never worry about what others were saying about my career direction." 

- Meg Whitman, CEO of HP, on ignoring your nay-sayers.

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"You always have to do something that puts you in a zone you don't know. Someone once told me growth and comfort do not coexist. And I think it's a really good thing to remember."

Virginia Rometty, CEO of IBM, on comfort as a crutch.

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"First, sanity is overrated. Kidding. But really, it is all about your personal mindset. After running around, chasing every available opportunity and having that feel of missing out on something, I had to ask myself if I was living the life I wanted to ultimately lead. When that answer was no, I had to make some serious changes. So I wrote down everything I was a part of, in order of priority, and realized I had way too much on my plate and didn’t have enough time to focus on the things that would lead me to my goals. That forced me to downsize immediately." 

Alana McMillian, copywriter, on prioritizing.



"I work for less time in the evenings ... do the simpler tasks, save the big stuff for the weekend. This took a metric shit ton of practice because it seems counter-intuitive to stop working when you need stuff done. I took the night off, a Monday, which is one of my prime work nights. I was not happy about doing it, felt lazy, but spent the evening with a book and some Hagen Daaz. I went to bed early in a somewhat frustrated mood. But when I woke up in the morning, as I was going through my mental to-do list and thinking about this page, I got it. Word for word, actually. I wrote it down while drinking my first cup of coffee, and tweaked it later, and - it was done."

 - Cate Spalding, writer, on mental breaks as breakthroughs.



"As role models, I think we all know that every day in every way, people are watching us... They're particularly aware of how do we conduct ourselves, how do we extend ourselves, and how do we recognize and celebrate other women. That kind of pressure shouldn't intimidate, but inspire. If somebody hands you a torch, what do you do with it? And I think the answer is easy. You light the way for others to follow." 

- Beth Mooney, CEO of KeyCorp, on celebrating sisterhood.


It's your turn — how do you handle your overwhelm, whether it be from life, your job, or your business? Share your words of wisdom below!


Source: Unsplash: Volkan Olmez