Success seems like a be-all and end-all that a vast majority of ambitious people aspire to. While financial success is definitely a major part of that, how renowned your business is or the prestige that comes with your job title ultimately lets people know they’re successful. Every professional woman often lives for that thrill of being recognized and, above all, respected. Of course, there’s also your personal markers for what success is, which can vary from what your peers want.
But no matter how you personally define success, there’s a darker side to it. Successful businesswomen often experience a lot of pressure that just doesn’t get talked about. The stresses of professional prestige can cause mental health issues or exacerbate ones that professional women already have. Women are simply held to higher standards of perfection than men, and more is asked of them, but that’s not the only factor. Here are some causes of the hidden pressures of success that you should stop to think about in your daily life and what professional women can do to manage these stressors.
The Difficulties of Caregiving
Women are frequently the sole providers for young children and elderly parents, and caregiving falls to them. Having this type of pressure from your family to maintain professional success so that you can continue to provide for them can become overwhelming. If you’re putting in additional emotional labor when you get home from work and it goes unrecognized, that will definitely exacerbate the stress in your life. Communicate with your family to let them know you can only deal with so much, and get your spouse, as well as your older children, to step up to the plate (if applicable). Don’t be afraid to ask for help if other family members, friends, and people in your community offer to be there for one another. Strong support networks combat stress and isolation, especially when caregiving is involved.
Poor Work-Life Balance
Even if you don’t have children or caregiving responsibilities, you still need time for yourself. It can become continually difficult to get time to rest, recharge and pursue your own hobbies if you have a job with a great deal of responsibility and travel or if your own business is blurring the lines between your personal and professional lives.
Learning how to outsource business and personal tasks will also be a lifesaver if your work-life balance isn’t optimal. Take advantage of laundry services, grocery delivery, virtual assistants and anything else available in your area that helps you focus on earning and “me time” instead of trying to do everything yourself.
Pressure to Perform at Work
You’ve got plenty to deal with in your home life, and then you’ve also got pressure at work to make your organization’s goals your number one focus. You’ve got a certain way you want to do things, but the new C-suite likes their way. If you’re in a male-dominated industry such as tech, there’s not only the task-oriented goals to reach but the pressure to fit in with the culture they’ve created, which may be inhospitable to women.
You need to ask yourself how much work and responsibility you are willing and able to take on. There’s no shame or loss of prestige in working fewer hours or accepting a job with fewer responsibilities and potentially stressful obligations like frequent travel, which is difficult to arrange if you’re the sole provider of young children. Additionally, you don’t need to say yes to every offer or project: You have to weigh which opportunities are worth the risk and which ones will only cause more stress.
Toxic cultures contribute to that pressure to perform and can also be a major source of stress. It may be a problem management can alleviate, or if it’s deeply embedded, it could be time to seek opportunities elsewhere since your mental health and dignity are worth it.
Suicide rates among professional women are increasing at an alarming rate as pressures at home and the workplace rise. If you don’t have access to mental health services, you reach can reach National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text “home” to 741741 to reach trained counselors specializing in emotional crises.