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Senior Correspondent

I always disliked the expression “put on your big girl panties” and I’m not quite sure why. Maybe because it just felt a little demeaning.

But, the more I look at our economy, the more I realize that the government is not going to provide the solution. So we each have to take personal responsibility for triggering its jump-start. And what that phrase says, when we don’t have our big girl panties on, is that we’re still acting from a place of dependence. Of little girl excuse-making.

If you’re a regular reader of mine, you know my stand on personal responsibility. Well, here’s another take on it.

A few nights ago, I heard an interview with a guy from Goldman Sachs. I normally think of them as the bad guys, for the role they played in helping topple the economy in 2008. But this guy in particular was worth listening to. Jim O’Neill is the CEO of Asset Management for them. He and Charlie Rose were discussing where the world economy — as well as ours — is going.

In talking about Europe, O’Neill mentioned that one of the biggest problems Italy has is that only 40 percent of its women are involved in economic activity and that the brain power, the IQ power of women in that country is being wasted.

It made me stop and think of the role of women in the world economy…and in ours. It made me realize that if any of us is playing small, then we’re not putting out our full woman brain power…woman IQ…woman ability…woman power in general.

If ever there was a time, this is a time when we do need to play big. We have the ability to make a difference in our economy. The sum of the parts — the efforts of millions of women — can get this economy going. Bit by bit. Day by day. But we have to get past our own head stuff.

Anything we have that’s holding us back ultimately holds everything back. I’m not saying that we’re the cause of the problem…but I’m saying we can be the solution to the problem.

So I’m going to look in more detail at the same nine steps I wrote about in last week’s article entitled “Time to Stop Playing Small” and how those steps can help you “Play Big.” I hope you’re in this with me, because I think we can be the real hope and change.

1.    Get your head out of the sand: Accept that you are an intrinsic part of the economy, even if just one cog in the wheel. (Each cog counts!) If nothing has changed in what you’ve been doing for the last three or four years, it’s time to look at it now.

2.    Get real about your life and your money: Most people are living in some fantasy world and have not looked honestly at what’s important and what’s not in their lives. If that’s your case, you’re basically running on automatic. Same goes for your money. If you don’t know exactly how much you make and how much you spend, you’re not being honest.

3.    Stop procrastinating or lying to yourself: We’re talking about today. Not tomorrow. If you’ve had plans you haven’t implemented, or if you’ve talked for ages about something you wanted to change and haven’t yet, now’s the time to change it. Look at what you’re doing with your time and energy. If you’re not playing full on, you’re either dragging your heels or not being truthful. It’s time to stop that.

4.    Ignore what anyone says you can or can’t do: No one knows you as well as you do. (Any outside opinion is just that: an opinion.) And only you know how badly you want to do something. If it’s important to you, ignore everyone. Dream as big as you want…and then move to make the dream a reality.

5.    Figure out where you want to be: It’s about the “vision thing.” Get very specific and very visual about what you want an hour, a day, a week and a month to look like in your ideal life. Live it in your mind’s eye. Feel how it feels. Let the emotion be a driver for you.

6.    Put together a step-by-step plan to get there: Get clear on what the gap looks like between where you are and where you want to be. Then chunk that journey down into do-able pieces. And write them down so you always know what to do next.

7.    Get help if you need it: If you’re tripping over how you handle money, find an adviser or a program that can remove any fears or obstacles. If it’s a skill you’re missing, find an adult education class. Tap into all your friends and acquaintances by asking for advice if you think they know what you want to know. Help is available and does not have to cost a fortune.

8.    Take the first steps: Don’t focus on the entire journey. It may overwhelm you. If the first steps look easy but the steps later on scare you, just focus on the early ones. By the time you get to the later ones, they most likely won’t scare you any more.

9.    And keep going: Find someone to share your plan with. Ask that person to be an accountability buddy for you. But be sure that person believes in your dream, wants you to succeed and won’t be threatened by any change you want in your life. And be sure to make them part of the celebration as you complete each step.

Now congratulate yourself.

You’re about to start playing big!

Drop me a note below and let me know what you’re already doing to be sure you’re in your big girl panties…

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