Are You Making the #1 Mistake That Keeps Your Career From Skyrocketing?

2015-02-24-success.jpg Recently, my friend Jane (not her real name) told me she thought better about starting a parenting blog, because "there are already a lot parenting blogs out there, so what's the point?"

"That's nuts!" I replied. "Just look for a different way to approach it! What can YOU offer that someone else can't? After all, wouldn't you be upset if just one of your many favorite shoe stores closed?"

It's been almost two years and Jane hasn't started any blog yet, even though I keep hearing the words, "I should."

That, says Marisa Santoro, founder of In Our Shoes<, is the #1 mistake women make that keeps their careers from skyrocketing, and it doesn't matter whether someone is climbing the corporate ladder, starting a business or reinventing herself.

"Many women don't tap into their own uniqueness. They have a blind spot and just can't see what sets them apart from everyone else," she said. " For instance, someone may have spent a month temping or volunteering; while they might think it's irrelevant, it is experience, and that person did spend 30 days in someone else's shoes -- which could possibly be just the thing that separates that person from all the rest."

It's not just the physical food on our plates that feeds us, but also things like career, relationships, finances and more. As adults, every one of us will feel blocked at some time. Sometimes you'll think you've lost your mojo, energy and confidence. That's when you need to reach, stretch, learn, remember your accomplishments, boost your self-esteem and go outside your comfort zone. If you don't, you might feel unhappy and have little sense of accomplishment and confidence. Your overall well-being will be affected.

Talk about an unhealthy life/work balance! 2015-02-24-balance_yinyang_symbol.jpg

In Our Shoes delivers professional, educational programs where Santoro strategizes with working women and small business owners, mentoring them to advance to the next level in their careers or business. Creator of the "5 Step Gutsy Roadmap," she is winner of the 2015 "Women of Influence" award by New York Business Journal.

Being gutsy probably isn't what you think. It means leading from the gut, with a thought, act, follow up, and control of the outcome. If you're not sure you're making the right move, look for two emotions: excitement and fear. "You know, that feeling that although you've never done it before, you can't wait to try! You're qualified for the new role, but still have bigger shoes to fill. Being uncomfortable is an absolute key to consistently moving your career or business ahead" says Santoro.

She continues: "If you already have at least 70 percent, know you can learn the rest, will do a great job -- go for it! That's not the same as a lie, making a promise that you'll do something when you know you'll never be able to fulfill it."

What else keeps you from leading with your gut?

Perfection paralysis. This is when something just sits on your desk, or you have an idea, but never act on it. You may be plagued with self-doubt, low self-esteem, overwhelm, or some other issue.

Dr. Amy Shah refers to it as "Perfectionitis," a disease potentially causing anxiety, moodiness, hormonal imbalance, exhaustion and guilt, ultimately affecting both your personal and professional life.

Fear. Fear thinks it's helping by keeping you safe and small. It also keeps you miserable, unchallenged and unfulfilled, because you don't take any necessary chances and "stay within your box. " As was reported in Psychology Today, we sometimes fear situations that are far from life or death, and hang back for no good reason.

Here are some ways to manage your fear:

1. Put it into perspective and ask yourself, "What's the worst that can happen?"
2. Name and own the fear. Say it out loud, so you slay it and take the sting out.
3. Check in with yourself. Is it really what you think, or is there something else going on that needs to be addressed?

Fear of time management. Yes, you read correctly. You need to be fiercely protective of your time, prioritize your work, and develop systems and that often means reaching out to friends and family to set limits. An article in the Harvard Business Review explains why the issue really comes down to learning to manage your energy. Some of us still think that's selfish, so ask yourself: Why do they tell you on airplanes to put the oxygen mask on yourself first before tending to others?