In Her Words: How Your Weight is Impacting Your Earnings
My client’s voice sparkled with excitement as she described her new invention. She’s a brilliant scientist (MENSA genius) and she created a new product that could save lives. The thing is, she’s been sitting on this idea for several years. Stuck. Not moving forward. She knows exactly which steps she needs to take (file the paperwork to get a patent, trademark the name of the product, find a few investors, set up a website and online shop, etc.) and yet she hasn’t been moving forward. Her million-dollar idea is still locked inside her brain, not out in the marketplace.“I’m stuck,” she confessed.
“Why do you think that is?”
She told me the usual answers. “So busy with other projects.” “Not enough time.” “My elderly parakeet needs special medication that takes two hours per day to administer.” (Okay, that last one was an exaggeration, but just barely.) My intuition prickled and I sensed there might be something else she wasn’t telling me.
“What else might be stopping you?” I asked.
Over the next hour or so, gradually, the truth came out. My client—my kind, gifted, talented, ridiculously high IQ client—was unhappy about her weight. For years, she’d been feeling “too heavy” and “unattractive” and so, she ducked away from photographs, hated being on camera, and generally avoided networking events, conferences, panels, media appearances, or anything else that might require her to be in front of an audience. On a very primal level, she didn’t want to be “seen.”
If my client could change her attitude about her body, start moving forward with her business plans, and launch her product into the marketplace, then she would easily start earning an additional $100,000 per year. And that’s a modest estimate. In ten years, that number would increase to $1 million.
When a woman feels unhappy about her body—and wants to “hide” from the world—it holds her back from so many experiences. It might hold you back from experiencing romantic love and intimacy. It might hold you back from career opportunities, too. It could literally be costing you millions.
When you think hateful, bullying thoughts about your body, it erodes your confidence. This type of thinking creates a negative ripple effect that touches every part of your life including, of course, your career. With poor self-confidence, you’re less likely to raise your hand in the classroom, less likely to volunteer to lead a project or give a presentation, less likely to confidently negotiate for a higher salary, less likely to apply to give a TEDx talk…the list goes on and on.
I can’t tell you how many women I’ve coached over the last 13 years who felt “stuck” professionally and financially—and when we peel away the layers of excuses, the core issue is: “I don’t like my body and I don’t feel comfortable being seen.”
What is the solution to this epidemic? The solution is not “lose weight and change your body.”
The solution is “change your mindset.”
Change the words you say to yourself. Change the dialogue inside your head. This is how you’ll break through to the next level of your career. Not by shrinking your body—by strengthening your mind. Many women wonder, “But how do I change the thoughts inside my own mind?”
The first step is building awareness—noticing the types of things you say to yourself:
- Do you say things to yourself that you’d say to someone you love?
- What, exactly, is running through your mind on a daily basis?
- Are your thoughts helping you or harming you?
Consider this: if your teenage daughter said to you, “I want to run for school president but I’m worried I’m too fat,” what would you say to her? Would you tell your daughter, “Yeah, you’re right. You should probably lose weight first and then maybe run next year once you’re thinner.” I sincerely hope the answer is HELL NO. You would tell her, “You’re smart. You’re beautiful inside and out. You’ve got great ideas. If you want to run for president, do it, and do it now. Sweetheart, there’s no reason to wait.”
Women: we need to start talking to ourselves the same way we’d talk to a daughter, girlfriend, or loved one.
And we need—NEED—to stop obsessing about our bodies. Every hour you spend worrying about calories, counting carbs, or covering up in a baggy t-shirt because you want to hide your muffin top, that’s one hour of your life you will never get back. One hour that could have been spent applying for a grant, reading an inspiring book, or setting up your consulting website and lining up clients.
Do you want to spend your whole life trying to force your body to conform to an unrealistic, photoshopped, Instagram-filtered standard of beauty—or do you want to spend your life making money, making a difference, and making memories with people you love?
No more hiding. Show up and be seen. You only get one body. Give it love. You only get one life. Make it count.
Susan Hyatt is a master certified life and business coach and the author of Bare: A 7-Week Program to Transform Your Body, Get More Energy, Feel Amazing, and Become the Bravest, Most Unstoppable Version of You. She specializes in helping women to stop dieting, stop obsessing about their weight, and start living the life they want. She was a finalist for the Athena Award, honoring her work in the field of women’s empowerment. She is an unapologetic feminist and her hobbies include running, cycling, weight lifting, and smashing the patriarchy.
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