There is so much talk today about women and success, what leadership opportunities need to be created, what training and development opportunities need to be offered, and what in general needs to happen to help more women succeed. Well, while all of those are important, the problem is those require women to wait for someone else to step to the plate, and do it for us. Now, I don’t know about you, while I appreciate those opportunities, the waiting on some else feels a little uncomfortable and disempowering. Like many women I know, I am not one to sit back and wait on opportunity to come to me I prefer to make it happen. So, one afternoon this week, my friends and I did just that; we took the bull by the horns, practiced what we preach, and we made the time to invest in ourselves, and each other. Why? We firmly believe it is one of the best actions we can take to ensure our professional and personal success, and that self-indulgence is the professional woman’s key to success. At just about 3 p.m. last Thursday, we cut out of the office, met at the spa, indulged, and then followed up with dinner and some smart conversation and plenty of laughter. The point of the day was simply to reinvest in ourselves, so we have the energy to invest in our families and our careers. My friends, all successful professionals in their own right, are as busy (if not busier) than I am. Our “crew” (whom we proudly call the bossy women’s club) consists of the CEO of a healthcare organization, a financial advisor with her own firm, a medical doctor specializing in ophthalmology and myself a business growth expert, keynote speaker and author. We not only have demanding careers, we have a check in every box; families, aging parents and more volunteer and civic responsibilities than we should. In addition, we all suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out) so we are constantly struggling with an overbooked calendar and very tight schedule, all of which (like many women) is focused far more on helping others than investing in ourselves. So with all of that going on, what are we doing at the spa in the middle of the week during working, or more importantly billable hours? Because we realize in order to have what it takes to achieve what we want to with our careers and our lives, we need to take time out to invest in ourselves. Taking the time to self-indulge is really far more about taking the time to invest in our relationships and our mental health. That while managing our time, our schedules, our families and the needs of our patients/clients is not something over which we have much control, the depth of energy we have to meet those demands is. And we are committed to keeping our energy replenished so we can continue to over achieve! Believe this, a few hours in the middle of the week to focus on yourself, and your friends produces a far greater return on investment than more hours in the office, and as women, we need to begin seeing this as an investment not an indulgence. While I was all in from the moment my friends and I started doing this, the truth is when I think about what I gain before, during and after an afternoon like this, makes it, in my mind one of the most important strategies I implement for success – both professionally and personally. So what is the ROI from self-indulgence, and why is it key to a professional woman’s success? Stress Relief – face it, we are stressed! Everyone I know has more to do than they can possibly accomplish, and the demands of family, aging parents and career are becoming more and more difficult to handle. Everyday can feel like a reactive rush to fit it all in and get it all done. Taking time to invest in ourselves eases the stress, and gives us the ability to step away and breathe, all of which greatly reduces our stress. And for me, managing my stress is critical in terms of keeping me energized, motivated and most importantly healthy. Before during and after a night out with “the bossy women” I feel my anxiety level decrease, and my perspective get the reality check it needs. Laughing at myself and at my friends, gives me the opportunity to realize I do not have to be perfect, and if I do not get it all done, as long as my clients are happy, my family is fed and my aging mother is safe I have done an amazing job. Connection – relationships and connection are everything. And while I love my family, and my co-workers, they just cannot relate to how busy or crazy my life is (nor can I relate to theirs.) Having the time to sit down with good friends, whose lives are so much like mine is invigorating. Having the opportunity to share, to listen and most importantly to laugh gives me the energy to both deal with and appreciate my crazy life. It is through connection and relationships that we have built amazing trust, and created a safe place to vent and blow off steam. Most importantly it is through this connection that I have found strength in good friends that want to share this journey with me. Focus– one of the most beneficial results of self-indulgence is the increase in ability to focus. Time spent away helps give me the space to gain perspective, and stop reacting to my life and start being proactively engaged in it. Any professional today knows that focus plays a huge role in overall success, and getting it is hard enough, but maintaining it is a constant struggle. A day spent “self-indulging” helps you with your ability to gain perspective, reset what is important, what you want to accomplish and probably more importantly what you don’t need to. I always return to my desk with renewed focus, new ideas, and the motivation to make it happen! Energy – I gave up a long time ago trying to manage my time. The calendars just never worked for me. But energy that is a different matter. I noticed years ago that some days I could get it all done and others (no matter how much time I had) I accomplished nothing. The difference was directly related to how much energy I had, how tired I was and how stressed out. Taking the time off actually makes us more productive – I love that! Investing in myself and being with people I enjoy, refills my energy and gives me the ability to not only gets more done, but to be more present for my family and my clients. The amount of energy I have to give provides with the ability to focus on others, and their needs all because I have first taken the time to focus on my own. Yes, self-indulgence works. It is the one strategy that professionals (women and men) should invest in, if they want to take their professional and personal lives to the next level. So how do the “bossy women” feel about this idea? Well, we have already scheduled our next adventure, and I am guessing that all this self-indulgence translates into more successful careers, better marriages and healthier families. I will keep you posted! About the Author: Meridith Elliott Powell is an internationally certified coach, speaker, and business development expert. Founder and owner of MotionFirst, she helps executives and business owners build cultures that make sales fun, easy and incredibly productive. An award-winning business owner, Meridith’s unique background includes high-level leadership and executive positions in sales, marketing and finance. Her signature style and her ability to rapidly connect with people make her a sought-after speaker, coach and strategist. Honors include the Athena Leadership Award, inclusion in Verve Magazine’s “Top 20 Professional Women to Watch” (2010) and selection as “Best Business Coach” by the WNC Business Journal in 2008. She signed on with a major online radio network to host her own weekly show. She is the author of Global Professional Publishing’s Winning in the Trust and Value Economy.