Sticky Floor Syndrome and Other Self Sabotage


sticky floor syndrome, self sabotageWhat is the sticky floor syndrome? Well, we know there is a glass ceiling, a gender pay gap and less women leaders in business but did you know that in some cases, we are our own worst enemy?

The Sticky Floor Syndrome is a recently coined phrase for the ways that women in business self sabotage their own career advancement.

Whether from fear of success or self-doubt, we find ourselves stuck to the floor of the position we are in rather than striving to break through to the next opportunity.

MINDA ZETLIN, Co-author, ‘The Geek Gap’ wrote an article entitled 12 Ways You Might be Making Gender Bias Worse.  There are a lot of expected things women do such as apologing, not speaking up, questioning our value and not seeking new opportunities until we feel like we are an expert in the field.

Sticky floor, the inability to rise above an entry-level position, the plight of hundreds of thousands of women trapped in low-wage, low-mobility jobs

However, there is one thing women in business do that perpetuates the sticky floor syndrome and they might not even see it as negative.

Only setting goals we know how to reach.

“Don’t be stopped from setting a goal because you don’t know how to get there,” Wendy Capland, CEO of Vision Quest Consulting and author of the bestseller Your Next Bold Move for Women says. “No one does when they set a goal where they’re stretching themselves.”

Years ago, she adds, she found herself declaring during a workshop that she wanted to have her own television show. “As soon as I said it, I thought, ‘I have no idea how to do that. That was a stupid goal.'” But a woman in the audience came up to Capland afterward, told her she was being interviewed by a cable show next week, and invited her to come along and observe. Capland decided this was a good way to get her feet wet. “You can head toward a big goal one baby step at a time,” she explains. In fact, it may be better that way–you’ll avoid setting off your own fight-or-flight response.

Often, we set goals for our career but keep them within the realm of possibility rather than imaging achieving a goal that seems insurmountable. However, as Capland discovered, if we dream big and put that desire out to the universe, often opportunities manifest that will lead us to greatness.


We need to set goals that will take us out of our comfort zone and strive for the seemingly impossible. Elizabeth Rider wrote an article entitled the Best Goal Setting Advice She Ever Received in which she shares a story of her own personal goal setting.

In her annual review the goals she set were ones that she felt comfortable achieving. Her boss questioned those goals and told her:

“If you set goals you know you can achieve you’re not going to grow.”

Elizabeth shares with the reader what she learned about setting bigger goals:

When you have a goal that is both out-of-reach and within comprehension, your mind will go into innovation mode and find new ways for you to think, talk and act, and all of the sudden those goals won’t seem that far off.

Bottom line: do not set goals that you are certain you can achieve. Set goals that challenge you and work hard to meet them. You’ll never achieve greatness if you stay in a space of setting goals that you are guaranteed to meet.

With that thinking in mind, how can setting bigger goals help you overcome the sticky floor syndrome? As part of your goal setting, cultivate a mindset of success: 

Have a Mindset for Success Succeeding as an entrepreneur demands a mindset of determination, focus and perseverance. No one else is going to build the life you envision for yourself. What does your “If I could do anything” life look like? Think BIG – What inspires you? What excites you? Don’t let fears of “not good enough, not smart enough, not wealthy enough, etc. stop you. Believe me – everyone has doubts. Move past your concerns! Make your vision become a reality by being clear about what you want.

The clearer your ultimate goal, the less sticky floor syndrome will be holding you in place. Being aware of the situation is the first step forward. Recognize that you may be holding yourself back from advancement and then work to overcome!

IMG_5268cJJ DiGeronimo, keynote speaker for women presents action-based strategies on women in leadership, diversity in business and advancement techniques for women.

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JJ DiGeronimo

Speaker, Author & Thought Leader for Women in Tech & Girls in STEM.

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