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Before I had kids, I worked as a conflict resolution consultant for a spin-off of the Harvard Negotiation Project helping Fortune 500 companies resolve their business disputes.  But after years of seeing people revert back to their old behaviors, despite sincere efforts to change things about themselves that would make them happier or more fulfilled, I wondered, “Why is it so hard for people to change?”  

 

So I left the corporate world to study with Robert Kegan at Harvard University – the world’s leading scholar on people’s immunities – or resistances – to change. 

 

After I graduated, I started coaching women about changes that they wanted to make in their lives and I noticed something fascinating.  Over-and-over again, women were saying that they were feeling “stuck.”  Many of them felt that life, or some part of their life, wasn’t quite right or fulfilling enough.  They desperately wanted to be living their lives in different ways – more meaningful, inspiring, or fulfilling ways – but they weren’t able to.  

 

These women had huge gaps between how they wanted to be living their lives and how they actually were, with no roadmap for how to change.

 

While I was coaching women who were feeling "stuck," I was in the middle of building my own family.  I had 3 children in 4 years and was feeling a little overwhelmed by the demands of motherhood and how to balance it all.

A few years ago, on a Friday afternoon before Christmas, I reached a tipping point. I had hired a babysitter to come over so that I could get some stuff done around the house.  Somewhere in between folding laundry and picking up my 100th LEGO, I heard something that changed the course of my life and work. I heard the kitchen timer go off and the smell of cookies come out of the oven. 

I then heard my oldest daughter say to my babysitter, “Thank you for making cookies with us Sara!  This is SO much fun!  Mommy never has time to do this with us.”

Ugh.

 
 

Some of my fondest memories were of cooking with my mother when I was a little girl.  I always dreamt that I would do the same with my daughters. Yet there I was, missing the moment that I had dreamt about for all of those years, because I was doing...f-ing laundry.  

For the record - this wasn't just a busy afternoon where I just needed to get things done. This was a pattern that was permeating my life.  Goethe, a German writer and philosopher, once said, "Never let the things that matter most be at the mercy of the things that matter least."  Yet there I was, in my early 30's with 3 young children, doing just that.  Everywhere I looked, I was prioritizing the things that mattered least to me over the things that mattered most.  

I was bogged down under an endless sea of household chores, said yes to too many things, stayed up too late, ignored my health, wasn't spending enough time on my work, and felt disconnected from the people and things that I loved most and were most important to me.  

I was structuring my time in ways that were completely out of alignment with my priorities - but I felt totally stuck, frazzled, and overwhelmed - with no clue how to change and build the life that I really wanted.

 

I wasn't alone.

 

 
 

Fascinated by the dilemmas that both my clients and I were facing, I launched an independent research project.  I interviewed 100 women (ages 22 - 68 with jobs ranging from CEOs to unemployed) to learn about how women have gotten stuck and unstuck over the course of their lives.  

There was a whole range of "stuckness" happening for women.  They were stuck in dead-end marriages, unfulfilling careers, not knowing "what's next," lives that they had worked hard to build - but once they got there - it turned out it wasn't what they had hoped for.  Many felt trapped by sunk costs (spending 10 years becoming a doctor just to find out they hated it), guilt, expectations of themselves, and a feeling that the "devil you know" is better than that unknown.  On the other hand, many didn't feel actively "stuck."  They had good lives and felt that everything was "pretty good," but they still couldn't shake the feeling that there has to be something more to life something deeper, more fulfilling, inspiring, and meaningful.

In the end, humbled and inspired by their stories, here is what I found and believe.

 

Women are smart.  They are motivated to change.  Having a hard time making changes to our lives isn't because we're lazy, stubborn, or weak.  And it isn't because we need more motivation, discipline, or willpower.

 

I discovered that there are not only patterns to the ways that women get stuck, but consistent and predictable ones.  We, as women, are repeatedly getting stuck making significant life changes for one-of-three reasons:

 

1.  Our Lack of Clarity

Some of us get stuck because we lack clarity on what we want.  The ways in which we spend our time often feel “off,” not super fulfilling, or out-of-alignment with what we know could feel deeper or more inspiring.  But sometimes we have no clue what would feel deeper or more inspiring in the first place, so we spin or wheels, or just “stay the course” despite our better judgement.  We might feel, “this isn’t working,” but we can’t articulate what we actually do want or what our next steps in life should be. 

2.  Our Time

Some of us get stuck because we aren’t organizing our time and setting up our lives in ways that are aligned with what’s most important to us.  We may be super clear on what we want, but have trouble organizing our time to align with those things.  We say “yes” to too many things, have so much housework and laundry and meals to cook that we can’t spend quality time with our kids, we are so tired at the end of the day that we can’t meaningfully connect with our partners, we are overstimulated and over digitized, we run around like crazy but aren’t meaningfully connecting with anyone.  We need to intentionally reclaim and reorganize our time.

3.  Ourselves

Many of us get stuck because (often without even knowing it) we are living under the weight of expectations, feelings of what we “should” do with our lives, ideas about what "good" moms / wives / daughters / employees do, stories we tell ourselves about who we are supposed to be - and how we are supposed to be living our lives - that are holding us back.

 
 

I applied these 3 findings to my own life and developed a step-by-step process for reclaiming my time and investing it in more exciting, meaningful, and fulfilling ways.  

 

1. I got super clear on what was most important to me and what I wanted

2. I developed a step-by-step process to evaluate where I wanted to spend my time and where I didn't I reclaimed my time by getting more organized, got someone to help more around the house so that I could spend more time with my kids, developed systems for efficiency, and became ruthless about what I committed myself to.  If it wasn't aligned with what was most important to me - it didn't make the cut.  I then carefully crafted my weekly, monthly, and annual calendar to align with all these things that I wanted to do and invest my time in.

3.  I tackled the things that were weighing me down.  The self-talk, guilt, and feelings of what "good" moms do or "should" spend their time on that were holding me back and causing me to spend my time in certain ways that were working against what I actually wanted.

 

In just a few months, I was able to completely turn things around.  I had a super clear plan for how to be investing my time, got a lot off my plate, and starting investing my time in the things that mattered way more to me - my children, husband, health, work, friends, and hobbies that I really loved like photography and cooking.  I was so amazed that I decided to turn all of this into a step-by-step process for other women struggling with the same challenges of balance & fulfillment with their time.

 

The Intentional Woman Method helps you discover what is important to you, design your life around those priorities, and remove any obstacles that have been imposed somewhere along the way by yourself - and others - to spending your time in meaningful, fulfilling ways.

 

No other method is doing this for women.

 

 

And on a more personal note...

I am a mother of 4 (3 little girls and a new baby boy) and a wife to a super smart, supportive husband.  No matter what, they are my biggest priorities.  

I balance my days between my work helping women like you lead more fulfilling lives and being a mom -- driving my kids to school, cooking dinner, doing bedtime routines, feeling overwhelmed by laundry, and worrying if I'm doing everything wrong.

I am an avid cook, traveler, and photographer.  Photography is my favorite hobby besides making lists.  (I love lists).  You can check out my photography here.

In a former life, I was a classical ballet dancer.  I have a weakness for girls nights, cheese, red wine, and trying new restaurants with my husband.  My favorite shows are Saturday Night Live, This is Us, and John Oliver.  My dream dinner party would include Ina Garten, Bob Dylan, Ernest Hemingway, Robert DeNiro, Barack & Michelle Obama, and Tina Fey.

I have my B.A. from Wellesley College in English Literature (where I wrote my senior thesis about Bob Dylan).  I have my Ed.M in Human Development & Psychology from Harvard University.  

I am happiest when I am with my husband & children, crowded around a dinner table, with good friends, food, wine, and music.  

From the bottom of my heart, thank you for stopping by.  I can't wait to connect with you.

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