Guide to Not Feeling Guilty: 3 Steps To Shed Career Guilt And Get On With Life!

Many women I talk with feel guilty for wanting more from their work – whether that’s free time and flexibility, status, financial ease, or more meaning and impact.

Can you relate?


Guilt occurs when we think we’ve done something wrong.

Maybe you’ve been told by friends and family that you should be grateful for having a “good job” in this economy.  Or that you’d be crazy to give up your secure paycheck and benefits to do something else.

But your desire is not wrong.

Your desire for more freedom, meaning, money – or all of the above – is yours for a reason! Your desire actually points to what’s possible and is truly meant for you.

(Think about that: there’s nothing in this world that you can desire that hasn’t already been made possible!Mind-blowing, right?)

Which means the sooner you get over the guilt and honor your desire, the sooner you’ll have a more satisfying life.

And the new life is always better than the old.


That’s why I’d like to share with you 3 essential steps to shed the guilt and get on with life:

Guide to Not Feeling Guilty: 3 Steps To Shed The Career Guilt And Get On With Life!

Step 1: Get clear on your desire. Think: what do I really want? The trick here is to not be vague. For example, if your desire is for more flexibility, think about what kind of flexibility.  Do you want to be able to:

  • Drop everything and leave your office on a moments notice without asking permission from higher ups,
  • Schedule your working hours to suit you starting, say, at 10am and working to 6pm, or
  • Do you want the flexibility to work from anywhere in the world?

What is it, exactly, that you want? Getting down to the granular level of your desire is the essential first step in getting over the guilt.


Step 2: Find the ‘Why’ behind the desire. Now that you’re clear on what you want, consider, “Why is this important to me?”  Continuing with our earlier example, is it so that you can:

  • Be more present and available to your kids,
  • Be more effective when you are at work,
  • Travel and serve clients from all over the world, or
  • A combination of the above, or something else?

When you get clear on your ‘Why’, you’ll discover that your desires actually serve a greater good.  This is significant because our guilt often stems from thinking that our wants and desires are selfish, when they’re really not!  Honoring your desires doesn’t just make life more fun – it allows you to do your life’s best work.

Step 3: Give yourself permission to be you. Instead of looking for approval from others, a habit that keeps you trapped in a cycle of people-pleasing and low self-confidence, you can actually give yourself permission when you recognize that:

  • You are valuable;
  • What’s right for you does matter, and
  • Your happiness serves a greater good.

For example, many women will defer big career decisions to their spouse, not wanting to act unilaterally or be thought of as a difficult wife.  But, if she’s already done the work to get clear on what she wants and the ‘why’ behind it, it’s really a matter of seeking support, not permission.  Big difference!

Stop apologizing for being you and going after what you want.  After all, the more “you” you can be, the better off we’ll all be.

In closing…

Your life is a reflection of the desires you chose to honor and those you chose to deny.

Begin to understand the intention behind your unique desires, and make a conscious decision to do what’s right for you.

Will you choose to stay in power, honor your desires and serve the greater good? Or will you give up you power, stay on the career sidelines and feel guilt unnecessarily?

The choice is yours, Beautiful!

Heather Petherick is a master success coach for high potential business leaders, having established her private coaching practice in 2007. Since then, she’s coached hundreds of emerging leaders and entrepreneurs from around the globe to overcome the mindset traps that keep them playing small so that they can realize their potential and create the impact they’re meant for. Her areas of speciality are: • Mindset • Confidence • Communication • Speed of Implementation Her clients include corporate rising stars at WestJet, Agrium, Suncor Energy, Manulife Bank, TD, Royal Bank of Canada, KMPG and PepsiCo International as well as big-thinking entrepreneurs from around the world. She has been featured as a career and success expert with Women Engineering The Future, The Royal Bank of Canada, Canadian Living Magazine and Chatelaine magazine. Heather’s journey from growing up on a humble sheep farm on the prairies of western Canada to building a global coaching business have lent to her signature coaching style that combines both wit and humility, style and business savvy. She holds a Master’s degree in Management and lives in Lethbridge, Alberta with her husband and two children.

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