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While You Climb The Corporate Ladder, Don't Forget To Take Care of Yourself


In the song “9 to 5,” Dolly Parton sings about the determination required for the working woman to handle being “just a step on the boss man’s ladder.” What was in the 1980s a tool for men alone is now the “corporate ladder.” Like any ladder, the corporate ladder is a tool that can be optimized by any person who puts their effort into it. Now, women everywhere are climbing. But, what hasn’t changed since Ms. Parton released her hit song/movie in 1980 is the fact that the corporate ladder depletes one’s energy.

So, while you should feel encouraged to chase your dreams and climb the corporate ladder, don’t forget to take care of yourself. The grind is exhausting, and you’ll need more than a “cup of ambition” to get yourself through it.

Many women believe that putting their head down and proving a high performance rate is the key to success. From a young age, women are taught to value their productivity. In school, grades are based on performance and that mentality carries into adulthood. The issue is that a laser focus on technical skills neglects one’s soft skills, which are some of the most essential. Learning how to work well with others and network with your peers are more valuable skills when it comes to climbing the corporate ladder.

So, lady, take a breath and look up from your desk! Communicating with your work environment is the most fruitful labor for you and your career.

And, don’t be afraid to say no! Women tend to feel they must do it all alone. But if you give bits of yourself to everything, you’ll lose energy for the projects that really matter, and you’ll forget to take care of yourself. So, before you say yes to a new assignment, take some time to reflect. Ask yourself questions like, does this project align with my strengths? Or, do I have the time or energy to give my all to this? 

Feel empowered to set up and maintain boundaries in your professional and personal life. Ultimately, one proves very little by giving themself to everything. The people around you will only learn to take you for granted. One teaches others how to treat them through how they treat themselves.

If you value yourself and your time, your coworkers will learn to as well. And if you advocate for yourself, those around you will also be more likely to advocate for you too. 

It is not only possible to practice self-care while climbing the corporate ladder, it is necessary! Rather than scheduling self-care habits around your work routine, schedule your day around these habits. Think ahead of time: what will I need on a basic level? Focus on nourishing your mind and body. Start small, by figuring out what and how you’re going to feed yourself. Then, maybe take a little extra time in the morning getting ready. A skincare routine is a great way to start your day. Before you spend a day in front of a laptop screen, it helps to spend a couple minutes washing your skin and massaging your temples. Finally, factor in when you’ll take a break from work to do some stretches or take a quick walk around the block. 

Reflections Blog Newsletter-30When you set out to use the corporate ladder, you have to prepare for the climb. If you start by taking care of yourself, you’ll be amazed how much more you can achieve. As is proven in the movie 9 to 5, equitable treatment and equal opportunity for women in the workplace makes for a more successful team. If it helps, think of your self-care as the first step towards a successful climb.


An athlete would never be so foolish to sleep poorly or eat a bad breakfast before a big competition. Don’t forget to take care of yourself!

If one thing is clear, the best things happen when women come together, whether it’s Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton, or the women in our community at Luminary, teamwork makes the dream work. 

A first-of-its-kind, Luminary is a membership-based global professional growth platform and collaboration hub created for women and male allies to address the systemic challenges impacting women across all industries and sectors. The ultimate career advocate, Luminary provides “real world” advice, tools, and resources to advance, build, connect, and develop through programming and networking opportunities. 

With no application process, Luminary is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion. We invite you to come sit at our table because we are all in this together!