Breaking Through the Glass Ceiling

By: Peggy Willms

(4 min read)

For several years I have used this line with family, friends, and clients…”Breakdowns equal breakthroughs!” I am feeling a bit more literal today. I am Flash!

Flash is the comic superhero known for his incredible speed and ability to run through material objects by vibrating his molecules, creating a high frequency. Go, Flash, Go. Break Through.

When it comes to setting and achieving goals, we all know there are times when we have come up shy of nailing them and those where we smashed barriers breaking through to the other side successfully. There are several reasons why we “come up shy”…we weren’t prepared in the first place, afraid of change, fear of success or, at times, not aligned with the goal to begin with.

When I was testing out for my Water Safety Instructor certification at age fifteen, I recall a memory where breaking through the “glass” ceiling felt literal. As a kiddo who grew up at the town pool, taking swimming lessons, competing in races, and performing synchronized swimming routines, I had little fear of water. Except—for two, which occurred in dreams and never came to reality. Thank God.

One of the exercises for the test was to dive into the 12-foot section of the pool fully dressed—socks, shoes, jeans, button-up shirt, and sweatshirt and pull up the cinder block from the bottom of the pool. We then needed to swim to the surface with the block, place it on our hip and sidestroke our “victim” to safety about 80 feet away.

After this event, I began having two dreams. One, I would dive down to touch the bottom of the pool, get my finger caught in the drain and couldn’t get it out. In the other dream, I tried to come up for air but could not as the surface had turned into a sheet of ice or glass trapping me in the water. Thankfully, each time I woke up, and never drowned. I feel anxious thinking about it.

There are three outcomes to a goal…missing the marker, meeting the expectation, or successfully smashing through the other side.

As a realist, I assess all angles allowing me to create attainable goals. Does this mean I have accomplished all of them? No! As I review my goal history, I can now look back and identify those that were super lofty, forcing me to give up or pivot, and those I blew out of the water, landing above and beyond expectation.

I am at a place in my life where I am rewiring my brain. I am no longer hung up on those “failures”  (when I swim to the top of the deepest part of the pool and am unable to surface). Did I create unattainable mile markers, so I was forced to come up shy? And if so, why? For many goals, such as touching the drain. I knew I could succeed, and so, did I? If not, why? There were times, consciously or unconsciously, when I set myself up to fail (PS: I hate that word). At times, I knew from the start that I couldn’t achieve the goal, but I chased it anyway. Were there times I “gave up?” Why? Fear of success? Desire to stay in my comfort zone? Had I lost interest in the goal along the way?

My previous programming harped at me constantly. A megaphone rang in my ears—do more, do it better and that hitting the mark wasn’t enough.

And the more I listened to the screeching, the more I became shy, and the voice just got louder. I would scold myself, “Peggy, your efforts aren’t enough. You are not breaking through to professional, financial, physical, or even emotional success glass ceiling. You are not as successful as you could be.” Argh.

It may seem like an odd way to improve future behavior, but I am currently successful at doing this…giving myself credit for what I have already achieved! There are days I need to do this five times. Currently, when I am in the heat of working towards a goal, I relish in it a hot minute, determine any learnings, and then try to remain realistic. I don’t chase and chase and chase like a cheetah 15 hours a day. Beginning with tooting my own horn isn’t something I was initially comfortable with. NONE OF US ARE.

I have always felt that God, the Universe, and my Higher Self drive my purpose. However, the human in me created scenarios of high expectations and the need to chase, chase, chase. The feeling of not quite getting to my destination was like an elephant sitting on my chest, day in and day out. My continued diligence, for decades, was my attempt to silence the monster in my head. I cyclically became drained physically and emotionally, causing injury or becoming sick. The red flags would wave in my face, and I would slice through, ignoring them. Rarely did I take the time to relish in my achievements. It was like packing a suitcase for the next trip when you are already on one. The chase was exhausting. And until recently, I have used my own mantra…I am breaking through those breakdowns, and the chase has slowed to a graceful jog.

In hindsight, the Flash in me has been killing it. My resume of life is outstanding. It has taken me decades to give myself credit and to recognize when I am holding myself back. I now recognize when I have spent too much time reading chapter one of an old story and when I need to either rewrite that chapter a bit or start writing the next one. I mean, after all, who wants to keep reading chapter one of Harry Potter, book one, over and over?

In addition to lightening up on myself and learning to celebrate the milestone, I no longer allow others to stamp out my spark. I can assess whether I need more knowledge to achieve my goal, more time, or if it is time to pivot. And most important, my expectations shapeshift more easily today.

I have the ability to endure all things. However, respecting all things that happen in due time has been the most challenging. Since a turtle is apparently my spirit animal and not a cheetah, I have had to learn to chill a bit. I know everything works out for the best. I am determined and persistent, but I am more aware of when to take my foot off the accelerator and rest.

Dialing in my Flash­—my ability to bust through material walls and ceilings—has become more of a journey and not a destination. I celebrate my Flash, and I celebrate when I need to “turtle.”

Are you breaking through walls and ceilings? Can you recognize all the successes you have already achieved? Do you need more education or support to achieve your goals?

Grab your red bodysuit, throw on your lightning bolt helmet, and kick some ass. Get your Flash on.

Peggy Willms
                                                                     All Things Wellness, LLC

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