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No matter what industry you work in, being a woman brings unique challenges that men don’t have to deal with. The response isn’t to resign ourselves or get overly caught up in fighting for systemic change. Instead, identify what those challenges are and get the resources you need to overcome them.

Competing goals

Women executives tend to take on responsibilities without considering their long-term costs. For most of us, this is just second nature – women are incredibly giving, even to their own detriment. As a result, they end up with a whole host of competing financial goals. At the same time that they are working toward retiring at a reasonable age, they also want to take care of their aging parents, while helping to support their grown children and grandchildren.

One couple I know had chosen to downsize their lifestyle shortly after their kids left for college. But only a few years after selling their home and buying a smaller one, I learned that they were once again in the market, this time for a bigger house. The reason? Their two children, now adults, were moving back in with them. Both these children work and make good money; nevertheless, this couple is not only housing them rent-free, but they cover a great deal of their expenses. They feel obligated to continue helping their children, but they’re doing it at the cost of their own financial security.

Women executives seldom realize how this pattern of saying “yes” contributes to their stress, anxiety and feeling trapped. They put their personal goals on the back burner, funding everything except the things that contribute to their own happiness. I see time and time again that women choose to put others before themselves – to their financial detriment.

My job is to help these women executives understand that their current way of life is a choice and to help them see what other choices are available to them. What do they need for their own life? What does quality of life mean to them, and what’s involved in creating it? It’s important for women executives to recognize that no matter where they start, there’s only so much time they have left, and only so much money they can make within that time frame. It’s vital to understand the long-term implications of how they choose to use their resources.