15 qualities successful women share

If you’d asked me when I was 18 what success looked like for a grown woman, I would have had a very clear answer for you: She’d be married with kids, living in a big, beautiful, Pottery Barn-clad house in the suburbs. Most likely in Indiana.

If someone told my 18-year-old self I wouldn’t be doing any of those things at 28, I know I would have smiled politely and said: Maybe. We will see! Meanwhile thinking: They don’t know me. I’ve got this. 

But, alas, my 20s keep teaching me that this decade has much less to do with what I can and can’t do and is instead a season of learning I’m not in control. Life follows a winding path and just like Hansel & Gretel, sometimes we see breadcrumbs and other times we end up much further off the path than expected.

I’ve begun to learn that the vision I laid for my life at 18 had to be put to rest. Did I grip it with white knuckles all the way down? You bet! But the looser my grip becomes, the more I am able to open up my arms, head and heart to a new vision of what life can look like.

Is my original dream a vision of success? Absolutely, for many people! But, as I’ve grown throughout my 20s, I’ve begun to understand that just like a garden full of flowers, success can come in many colors and forms. Each is beautiful in its own way, but each is intended for a different recipient, who will admire and enjoy it from her own vantage point.

A friend recently sent me these short podcasts from Momastery on five qualities successful women share (worth a listen!). It inspired me so much, I thought I’d create my own list based on the women in my life.


{As I’ve gotten older, my appreciation for the success of the women around me has grown so much. Above is my mom and her sister, the day she got married, as well as my aunt, Betsy. They all live different, but equally beautiful and bountiful lives. I feel so fortunate to have been able to watch them thrive in their careers and as moms}

15 Qualities Successful Women Share

1. They advocate for themselves. A friend of mine recently told me that one of the hardest parts of being a mom was knowing that if she didn’t advocate for her baby, who could not speak for herself, nobody else would. I’ve noticed that the most successful women around me aren’t afraid to advocate for their own needs, either. As women, it’s easy to minimize our needs. By nature, we are nurturers and are more inclined to put our needs behind those we love. Successful women aren’t afraid to speak up when they are hurting or need help. Or just need a snack.

2. They share their ideas. The most successful women I know aren’t afraid to share their ideas. They understand that there will be some home runs and some belly flops, but the fear of failing doesn’t keep them from sharing.

3. They don’t seek perfection. They are driven by conviction instead of performance. They don’t wait until every duck is in a row to make a move but instead run hard and fast toward their dreams.

4. They know their purpose. And like a squirrel trying to crack open a nut, they work at it relentlessly.

5. They have hobbies. They understand that life needs a balance of work and play. They invest in their own personal growth, which, in turn, helps them to love and lead others better.

6. They know their value not derived from their appearance. They understand that beauty is fleeting and the value they add to the world is less about looking good and more about doing good.

7. They let their yes be a yes and their no be a no. They are firm in their convictions and apologize when it’s appropriate, but not when it isn’t true.

8. They care for themselves. Because they know that to care for ourselves well allows us to care for others better.

9. They use their mornings. Whether it be for exercise, quiet time and coffee in that golden morning light or to pursue a hobby, they use the precious time to start their day off on the right foot.

10. They believe in a higher power. They understand that this world is not an accident. They believe they have a purpose and the best thing we can do on this earth is work toward making it better for those who come after us.

11. They think big, but take small steps. They see the whole forest, but aren’t afraid to climb every individual tree to get to where they want to go.

12. They spend time alone. They take time to be alone. In silence or in music. To do something or to be still. How they spend their alone time need not matter.  But, they make it a priority.

13. They believe they are meant to be enjoyed. They know their words have value, their stories are meant to be told and jokes are meant to be heard. They don’t try to be less or smaller or quieter, but instead believe that who they are – without changing – is someone that is meant to be enjoyed.

14. They are kind but honest. They worry less about pleasing and what others think and more about being kind, honest and true to themselves.

15. They know their limits. They aren’t afraid to ask for boundaries, alone time or personal space. They aren’t afraid to admit they need sleep or rest. They know what they're made of and all they can offer, and don’t apologize for being any less than they are.