Guilty to Guilt-Free: How High Performing Women Manage Guilt

Often referred to as the “forgotten generation”, Gen X women are rising as powerful business owners. Yet, behind our success stories often lies a hidden struggle - guilt. 

And I know you’re thinking, “April, what on earth do I have to feel guilty about?” But the truth is that guilt can manifest in hidden ways; especially for High Performing Women. 


Guilt Source 1: Balancing Work and Life

For Gen X women entrepreneurs, the constant juggling act between business and personal life can be a significant source of guilt. We often fear that we’re not dedicating enough time and attention to either side of the equation.

And I mean, it’s not an easy balancing act. We hold a lot of titles. Mom, wife, friend, entrepreneur, etc., etc., etc… How can we even begin to dedicate enough of our time to be the “best” at every single one of these parts of our lives?

Managing this guilt involves setting realistic expectations. It's essential to understand that perfection is unattainable and that trade-offs are sometimes necessary. By prioritizing our core values and responsibilities, we can find a balance that allows us to focus on what truly matters. In this delicate balancing act, perfection is a myth. What's more important is setting realistic expectations for ourselves. And your core values are the first step in figuring out what you should be allocating your time to. (Don’t know what your core values are? Get your free copy of the Vixen Core Values worksheet here!)


Guilt Source 2: Employee Well-Being

The responsibility of employee well-being can weigh heavily on business owners, especially when tough decisions, like layoffs or pay cuts, are required. The guilt stemming from these difficult choices can be emotionally challenging to navigate.

To manage this guilt, maintaining open and honest communication with the team is crucial. Transparency in decision-making processes and the reasons behind difficult choices fosters understanding and empathy within the organization. These women understand that navigating these guilt-ridden waters requires not just effective decision-making but also the ability to communicate openly with their employees.

A mentor of mine told me, "You don't fire people. You liberate them back to the marketplace because it's not working on both ends." Makes sense, right? If one of your team members isn't a good fit, they're likely going to be a lot happier somewhere else. 


Guilt Source 3: Financial Stress

The financial stability and success of their businesses often hinge on the decisions made by business owners. Facing financial challenges or business failure can lead to guilt over the potential negative impacts on employees, investors, and personal finances.

To cope with financial guilt, seeking financial advice and guidance from a professional is crucial. Collaborating with financial advisors or accountants can help you make sound financial decisions, reducing the guilt associated with business finances. Effective financial management not only benefits your business but also brings you peace of mind; and what's more valuable than that? This was my job when I was a financial advisor; to give people peace of mind when it came to their finances. It didn't matter if a client walking out the door had all the money in the world if they weren't feeling at peace with what they were doing with that money.


Guilt Source 4: Self-Care and Personal Time

One less-discussed but significant source of guilt for us entrepreneurial women is the feeling of selfishness that can accompany taking time for ourselves. In a world where business ownership often demands near-constant attention, dedicating precious hours to self-care and personal pursuits can trigger unwarranted guilt.

Navigating this guilt requires a shift in mindset. It starts with understanding that self-care is not a selfish act but an essential component of maintaining physical and mental well-being. Recognize that without taking time to recharge and rejuvenate, you become less effective in your professional roles and personal life.

To manage this guilt, embrace self-care practices. This doesn’t mean you have to set aside 4 hours to go to the spa every week. Sometimes it’s as simple as regular exercise, mindfulness, hobbies, or simply setting aside time for relaxation and reflection. By prioritizing self-care without guilt, these you can recharge your energy and become more focused, creative, and resilient. Acknowledge that caring for yourself is an investment in your businesses and an act of self-compassion, ultimately leading to more significant personal and professional success.


Put it in Action:

Prioritize Realistic Expectations

Embrace balance by setting achievable goals and understanding that perfection is unattainable.

Foster Open Communication

Reduce employee well-being guilt by maintaining transparency in decision-making processes and fostering empathy through dialogue.

Caring for You

Acknowledge that caring for yourself is an investment in your businesses and an act of self-compassion, ultimately leading to more significant personal and professional success.

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