Follow Her Lead
Knowing how to tap into the power of a mentor can help you achieve your goals.
Which women in your life do you most admire? Maybe it's a neighbor who started her own business or a friend who takes evening classes toward a college degree. In a way, those women are your role models. You look to them as a source of strength and inspiration, and their achievements and wisdom are like a wind at your back as you head down the path toward your own goals.
According to an online study by Kathy Korman Frey, professor of the Women's Entrepreneurial Leadership Program at George Washington University, having a role model can boost career success and foster the confidence you need to tackle personal challenges. Dr. Fran Walfish, psychotherapist and author of The Self-Aware Parent, adds, "Role models can provide guidance, supervision, and validation."
The First Step
Before beginning your role model search, select one goal to work toward. Whether your goal is a return to regular exercise or upping your fundraising know-how, you're going to look for a woman who demonstrates the particular quality or skill you're aiming for so that your mission is clear and attainable. You don't necessarily want to "be more like" this person, but to emulate some of her specific traits.
Where to find your role model? If you're looking to shed the rest of that baby weight, chat up the athletic mom in your child's play group. If you're considering a career change, join a professional organization that can lead to a contact. Then, try setting up a weekly coffee date with your new role model or begin to exchange regular e-mails. You may feel funny about approaching another mom like this, but that's OK. It's just business. In order to connect, you have to put yourself out there and be honest about asking for advice.
Admire from Afar
Your role model doesn't have to be someone you actually know — or ever will. Authors, politicians, and historical figures can serve the purpose, too. When you come across someone who motivates you, consider the quality in that person that caught your attention-for example, the perseverance of activist Erin Brokovich or the creativity of author J. K. Rowling. You can also search online to find out more about admirable women at sites like myhero.com and stronggirl.org.
Jennifer L. Nelson is a New Jersey-based freelance writer specializing in parenting and family issues.