It’s hard to believe that Nancy Ruffin, life coach and host of The EmpowHERment Hour podcast, didn’t have any girlfriends. “Women are lead to believe that we’re ‘catty,’ and we cannot support each other and for a long time, I believed that,” says the mami of two adorable daughters.
In 2010, when the puertorriqueña and her hubby were struggling to get pregnant, she started searching for something and praying for a breakthrough. And on cue, the universe summoned an army of women into Ruffin’s life to help her “rebuild my belief in myself and my ability to become a mother.”
And even when the award-winning author suffered a miscarriage, these women tightened the circle they’d formed around Ruffin and encouraged her to try again. The unwavering support she’d received completely shifted her perception of sisterhood, and she promised to teach her daughters about the value of women supporting other women.
Today, the “purpose professional” has worked with hundreds of women and inspired them to unleash their power and discover their purpose. We caught up with the self-proclaimed Latina Oprah to discuss vision boards, setting realistic goals and tapping into your God-given gifts.
It’s March and most people have abandoned their 15 resolutions, especially the one about losing weight. What’s the secret to setting clear goals?
You can say I want to lose weight, but if you’re doing it because society or your spouse wants you to look a certain way, then that doesn’t align with what you really want, and you’re gonna lose focus. However, if being healthy and fit is important to you, then you have to be specific. How many pounds do you want to lose? Ten pounds? Okay, how soon do you want to lose them? In a month? That means you have to lose at least two and a half pounds per week, and you adjust your daily activities to reflect that. Do I have to do 30 minutes to exercise? How much food am I cutting back on? The secret is to set goals that are specific, can be measured, and are aligned with what’s important to you.
Your vision board workshops are pretty popular. People think it’s cutting up magazines and gluing images of cute babies, expensive red bottoms and huge mansions on their boards. But your events are more than that.
In my vision board workshop, the vision board is the last thing you work on. We’re not even touching magazines or boards until the end of the workshop.
First, we focus on values and legacy. What does that look like? As the women start to see the big picture, we dig deeper and map out the little things that must be done on a daily basis to get to the end goal. The vision board is just a tool that you’re using to picture your goals and remind you what you’re shooting for.
So if the board is the last piece of the vision board workshop, what is the first part?
We start with meditation. So many women want to meditate, but they don’t know how. I take them through a guided meditation to clear their minds of all the noise. After that, we work on the plan. They’re coming up with three goals for the year. They fill in these templates that I created and they list everything that is needed to accomplish their goals. They set deadlines for themselves and they identify potential obstacles and potential solutions. Now she has a roadmap—a clear vision for how she’s going to accomplish those goals.
Let’s talk about navigating work goals. Why do Latinas hesitate when it’s time to ask for a promotion?
We’re just not vocal enough. Men tend to excel at much quicker rates than women because they’re not afraid. They let people know what they want. And half the time they’re not even capable of doing it, but they’re vocal about their passion. If a woman wants a promotion, she cannot be shy about it. Traditionally, we’re taught to sit and look pretty, don’t make too much noise and don’t bring too much attention to ourselves. But it’s important to make our voices heard. Schedule a meeting with your boss and explain what you can bring to the role and outline your skills.
And on the personal tip, how do we make self-care—beyond mani-pedis and blowouts--a priority?
We’re so used to always being in work mode, that even when our bodies are physically telling us to stop and slow down, we ignore it because we think we can push ourselves a little bit more. There is a danger in doing that, because when you don’t stop to get mental, physical, and spiritual care—I like to call it a tune up—your body will shut down. And you will be forced to rest. The same way we schedule activities for our kids and we schedule meetings at work, we have to schedule time for ourselves. You don’t want to burn yourself out and make yourself sick. I enjoy the spa because it’s uninterrupted time and something that I do daily is meditation. You will be surprised how good 10 to 15 minutes of silence is for your mental state.
When did you realize that empowering other women to live their purpose was your calling?
For a long time, I created a life based on others expectations. I went to school for accounting because my father stressed education and earning a good living. In college, I didn’t major in what I loved. I majored in something that I believed would always provide an opportunity for employment. It wasn’t until the birth of my daughter that I realized my purpose is to help women tap into their God-given gifts. Everything that I do—from writing to my podcast to facilitating workshops—is me owning my voice and using what God has given me to help others figure out what they’re supposed to be doing with their lives.