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3 Thinking Traps That Stop Success-Minded Women From Achieving More

Hi, I’m Alex!

If you need a little help to start playing by your own rules, there’s a few ways we can work together more closely.


She has everything she needs to go higher with her work, but these three thinking traps keep her from taking it all to that next level…

OH…wait! Am I talking about myself? My clients? Or ALL driven women…

In heart-to-heart chats with clients last week, a few themes came up. And when I start to notice parallels throughout my client’s lives, I take notice!

  • Each woman wants: more success, and make better money,
  • while simultaneously being her unique and authentic self, but it feels like an unwinnable battle.

These desires seem to be diametrically opposed.

My clients are high-achieving coaches, aspiring leaders, and even doctors who, from the outside, seem like they have it all figured out.

But on the inside? They feel frustrated because they’ve evolved and are ready to try something new in their work, often borne from deep personal experience. As they think about sharing their new truth, up comes

fear, ego, and doubt.

In my 18-years of coaching, creating, and consulting, I’ve run into this phenomenon in my own work, so when I see it in my clients, I feel a ton of empathy for their struggle!

There are three thinking traps that rise up like monstrous walls when we try to evolve or launch a new idea, program, book, or business:

perfectionism, imposter syndrome, and analysis-paralysis.

These traps can stop us from growing our business and our lives in a way that feels authentic to us. They also squash our creative juices and authentic voice.

This is important:

The women who work with me hold authenticity as a core value, as do I.

And while authenticity is a beautiful thing, it gets tangled up with these thinking traps in interesting and sneaky ways.

Here’s a few examples from my own clients who were able to begin the authentic transformation of their business for personal satisfaction and professional growth.


When you over-analyze or over-think a situation so much that you don’t make a decision or don’t take action, you may be stuck in analysis paralysis.


Aimee felt a big shift coming to her marketing and branding business.

After supporting several health-tech startups through launch and growth stages, she was ready to change her business model and work with other entrepreneurial women.

“The startup world was wearing me down. I’m proud of my success with these companies, but I want to help the small business owner to grow her profits and reach the right customers. I just don’t know if I have what it takes to relaunch my business. How will I find customers? What’s my angle?”

Through our coaching, we were able to pinpoint her favorite services that solopreneurs need, are willing to pay for, and were simple to get up and running in a beta-test format.

The launch of her sales page and making offers to potential clients took longer than expected. She would spend days going over and over different styles of sales pages, which was pushing her launch date further and further.

“There are so many different styles of sales page. I get started on one, then have a question and start researching again. I get lost in the details and it takes days to make progress.”

Luckily, Aimee has a coach. Find a mentor or coach who can help you see the circular, avoidant, or repetitive thinking for what it is, and have your trusted guide help you take action, and get out of circular thinking.

Imposter Syndrome

If you can’t own your accomplishments, strengths, or skills, or worry that you’ll be discovered to be a fraud, you may suffer from imposter syndrome.


Jennifer, a double-board certified internist with over 20 years experience, worried she didn’t have what it took to launch an online platform. She was preparing to sit for her third board certification when we met to strategize and launch her new website:

“There are so many doctors with online platforms now, how will I stand out if I can’t prove I’m the most qualified?”

Her frustration was related to a perceived inability to meet her self-imposed standards of achievement. This is peak Imposter Syndrome.

The constant fear that you’ll be discovered as a fraud, liar, or that you’ve happened into your current position by luck is all too common for even the most educated and accomplished women.

In my 18-years of coaching experience, I’ve seen that MDs and PhDs often have the sneakiest forms of imposter syndrome! The smarter and more educated you are, the more you realize you could know, which translates into a negative thought loop of: “you should know more before you claim to be an expert!”

Luckily, I’ve coached dozens of women through the Imposter Syndrome Trap and come out the other side. Jennifer and I went through a “lifetime achievement” exercise mapping her experiences. Alongside each she wrote at least one strength or lesson she had learned. By the end, she could step back and take in the fullness of her success, and her website is days away from launch!


A refusal to accept anything less than perfection. If you’re not making progress because everything needs to be just right, you may be suffering from perfectionism.


“It has to be perfect before I launch it.”

“I have to work with one of these top 3 publishers.”

“It’s all or nothing – either I hit my six-figure goal or I’m a failure.”

“I had a good report, but there was one critique I can’t let go of.”

“I avoid situations where I’m unsure of total success.”

“I use the word should a lot.”

Alison is a coach and strategist for other coaches who have online businesses. Through our coaching, she got clear that a lot of women were secretly dealing with the same mental health disorder as her, but didn’t have the tools that she had worked hard to discover and incorporate into her life.

“I think I can help women to manage their mindset around their mental health, but my approach is really outside the box. I have to perfect this idea before I share it with anyone!”

Building a program, writing a book, or launching a coaching practice takes time, and Alison was getting stuck in perfecting every single aspect of her process before moving onto the next one.

I helped her get clear about the value of her work, and think about the women she aims to help: how would it change their lives to have a 90% perfect class with her?

“Even a 60% perfect class would help someone like me to feel relief. When you put it that way, I need to aim for ‘good enough’ and stop waiting!”

To get her moving forward, we set up a strategy of beta-testing her ideas with a small, hand-selected group of past clients and friends. This gave her the chance to try out her material and new coaching methods with a group that already loved her work, and would overlook any mistakes or gaps.


These thinking traps are so common, we don’t always see the huge impacts they have on our desires, work, and aspirations.

  • Your creative thinking gets squashed when you feel like an imposter.
  • You don’t make offers to prospective clients when you feel like a fraud.
  • When you pressure yourself to get everything perfect, out-of-the-box ideas feel too risky.
  • You undervalue your work and undercharge for your services if you think your work isn’t perfect.
  • When you force yourself to think through a solution without trying an actual practice-run, it’s impossible to move forward. Real-world applications of your ideas need to be attempted.

Get out of these thinking traps and start making progress with your dreams, work, and life.

I have a handful of 90-minute Activation Strategy Sessions open for June.
Sign up here and let’s dive in together to clear the way for your growth:

Photo Credit: Nick Onkin