Every Friday I am going to feature a woman that I adore. They exude all the qualities of an Alpha Female and I want to dig into their lives to get some nuggets of knowledge to help us all live happier, healthier lives balancing life & work.
Definition of an Alpha Female
An Alpha Female is a powerful and assertive woman. Her confidence is due to being an intelligent and intellectual problem-solver. Being an Alpha Female is a State of Mind based on choosing ambition and being proud of it. She strives for a happy and healthy work/life harmony.
She is the brightest star in her constellation. When an Alpha Female stays true to their authentic selves and their missions they shine. An Alpha Female puts herself first so that she can fill up her cup and then have more energy for her friends, family, and coworkers. She strives for synergy with the world around her. She knows that work/life harmony is found by staying true to your priorities and what makes you happy. She is never complacent about striving for better and nurtures relationships with all the people in her life.
Meet Sarah Vermunt!
Sarah Vermunt is the Founder of Careergasm and the author of Careergasm: Find Your Way To Feel-Good Work. She helps people figure out what the heck they want so they can quit jobs they hate and do work they love. She writes about careers for Forbes, Fortune, Inc., and Entrepreneur. She lives in Toronto and online at careergasm.com.
- What do you think of the definition and how are you an Alpha Female?
This is a HUGE definition! And I agree with most of it. Powerful, definitely. Assertive, definitely. I also love that you touch on unapologetic ambition. I have such a love/hate relationship with ambition and striving though. I think so many of us are striving too much. Like a hamster on a wheel. I actually think we’d be happier if we did a little less, and focused on fewer things in a more aligned and focused way.
I’m so glad that you’re talking about women putting themselves first here, and that you put the “fill her cup” first before the bit about having more energy for other people. There’s an analogy that drives me nuts — the one about putting on your mask first so you can help other people better. On the one hand that’s a nice sentiment, on the other hand, it still frames women taking care of themselves as a means to a more important end of helping others. I hate that. Put yourself first. Full stop. Not so that you can better serve others.
- What are you most passionate about?
I’m all about freedom. It’s the driving mission behind my work. I want people to realize how free they are. I spent a lot of my life being totally unaware of how much freedom I have and when I woke up all I wanted to do was help other people do the same thing.
Other passions: I’m a huge reader, I love documentaries, and I’m a big introvert who loves intimacy, so deep conversation really turns my crank. I’m also passionate about writing. It’s a bit part of who I am. I’m in the middle of promoting my new book and there’s so much involved with publishing and marketing a book that I haven’t actually had much time to write! I miss it and I’m just getting back to it.
- What does work/life harmony look like for you?
Fewer things, fiercer focus, and LOTS of time for work and play. I probably work like 30 hours a week and I create my days however I want. I love focusing deeply one one thing at a time, so my days tend to vary wildly — like a whole day of coaching clients, or a whole day of course development, or a whole day of writing. Task switching is not my jam, so I’ve created a schedule that feels really free and works to my strengths.
- Share with us a time when work/life balance was out of wack? What was your aha moment that taught you it was ok to take care of yourself first.
OMG which one?! Lol. Two come to mind. The first is when I was working my first management job, doing a full-time masters degree, and getting married all at the same time. That was crazypants. I was relocating my whole team, doubling my hiring, doing training and development, plus the masters degree. It was too much. I was always working on one thing or another and although I was “successful” I was carrying around this stressful energy. That really negatively impacted my relationship and we ended up getting divorced before we were even married for three years. There were many other things that went into play there, but how I showed up in the marriage was a big part of it. Major aha there: I am responsible for my energy — both for myself and what I bring to others.
The second time when things were really out of whack was when I was slogging through I career I hated. I was trying to force myself down a path I hated and it really fucked up my life. I ended up having a breakdown in the middle of a crowded Starbucks, which is where my book begins. I was working as a professor at a business school and was hunched over my laptop at Starbucks, working on some research. I HATED conducting research. One day I just couldn’t do it anymore. So I kind of snapped. I had a big, fat, embarrassing meltdown right in the middle of Starbucks. I gave notice the next day. That was a HUGE aha for me and it’s why I do the work I do now.
- How do you nourish yourself?
I love this question! Nourish is one of my words for 2017. And I’ll be totally honest. Focusing on nourishing myself is kind of a new concept for me. I feel like a newborn in this area. I definitely haven’t nailed it yet.
Here’s what’s working: Water! I had no idea that drinking the right amount of water would make such a difference in the way I feel. I keep 5 mason jars in the fridge and make sure I drink them all every day. I have more energy, fewer headaches, my skin is better. I also recently cut out coffee. It doesn’t agree with me, digestively. Actually LOTS of things don’t agree with me digestively, and I’m wrestling with that. I’m kind of pissed that dairy and eggs make me feel shitty, and I’m a rebel so for years I’ve continued to eat them anyway, but I ALWAYS feel bad. So I’ve finally cut out most dairy, though I reserve the right to eat eggs a few times a month because I can’t live without brunch.
What’s not working? I hate cooking. I’m probably THE most impatient person in the world. And I usually wait until I’m hungry to start cooking, so I’m like The Incredible Hulk in the kitchen — all pissy and rammy.
What is your weekly fitness routine like?
Ha. OMG. I so totally don’t have one. Just keeping it real, here. I HATE going to the gym, so when I do move my body I do things that I actually like. I love taking epic walks — like for 3-4 hours at a time, preferably on a nature trail somewhere. I also do restorative yoga and yin yoga, and it’s more about my mental than physical health, for me. I took a learning to run class last fall because I’ve been wanting to try running for a few years now. It feels like freedom to me. I had to stop the class because I had a neck injury, but I’m picking it up again. I’m about 50 lbs overweight, so I always had this story in my head that I couldn’t run, but I can! I just have to take it slow and be cool with being the slowest person. This is so hard for me, btw! I hate going slow and I hate being at the back of the pack — and I don’t mean just fitness wise, I mean in life!
- What are your daily habits for winding down at night and reducing stress?
I’m proud to say I’ve resisted Netflix. We don’t have it and that’s intentional. We only watch TV or a movie like 2 or 3 nights a week. Otherwise we’re talking or reading or writing or doing something that fills us up more substantially. I don’t EVER work in the evenings. I did that in a former life and it did such a number on my health and happiness.
Interestingly, a morning routine is something that I’m working on to help get me grounded and feeling good. I think that’s even more powerful than how you power down at the end of the day — actually starting your day with intention.
- What are some pain points of being an Alpha Female that you have to problem solve for?
Nourishing myself properly (not just physically, but mentally and emotionally) continues to be something I’m working on. That’s why it’s one of my words for this year. I want more of that.
Another thing I’m working on is being okay with doing less. I am HUGELY ambitious and often to a fault. I’ve been shifting that for a few years now and I’m getting so much better, but I’ve been wired a certain way for so long that it’s taking some time.
- What is your definition of happiness?
I’m SO glad you’re asking about happiness and not success. As a career coach I get asked about success all the time and the truth is success doesn’t matter. It’s a measuring stick. Happiness for me is knowing what you want (not necessarily what you think you SHOULD want) and going after that in a very aligned, focused way. Freedom is a big part of happiness for me — having the freedom to do what you want. We are all so much more free than we think.