Finding Fulfillment Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Dear Debra: I’m working full-time while finishing an advanced degree. My company is paying for grad school, so taking advantage of that benefit is smart. But I’m spending way less time than I’d like with my ten-year-old. My husband works from home and is happy doing most of the carpooling, play dates, and homework. Working crazy hours is temporary and will benefit us long-term, but still I feel like a shitty mom and wife.

Don’t beat yourself up for not having a perfectly balanced work and home life, all at the same time. Write this down on note cards: Life is long.

Continue reading "Finding Fulfillment Between a Rock and a Hard Place" »


It has been said that "the surest way to keep a man in prison is not to let him know he's there."  And the surest way to keep a woman from embracing her pure career ambition is to make her believe she's already done it. 

Don't believe it. 

Heading into 2009, we women still are not advancing in our careers the way we should.  We're not getting the fulfillment we desire or making the money we deserve.  And this time it's not men who are holding us back.  This time, sisters, we're doing it to ourselves, because ambition-for us-is still a dirty word. 

Do you unconsciously buy into our prevailing cultural paradigm, that double standard that says: ambitious men are go-getters, but ambitious women are bitchy, greedy, cold, arrogant females who attract enemies, repel lovers, make rotten mothers, live lonely lives and, in one way or another, miss out on fulfilling lives because of their ambition? 

Are you not advancing in your career as quickly as you'd like?  Are you not making the money you deserve and getting the fulfillment you desire?  Are you afraid of what you might have to sacrifice if you pursue your big goals? 


Continue reading "PROTECT YOUR PASSION IN 2009" »

Balance or Not, You are Normal

Dear Debra: I ordered pizza for dinner for my kids twice this week-and last; the house is a wreck, I brought home a mountain of work last weekend and barely made my daughter's school play.  What's wrong with me?  Does everyone else have their act together?

Here's the truth that no one tells us, especially glib work-life balance evangelists: Once you get out into the world of work (and even before that-in college, for example) you should just expect that your day-to-day life simply isn't always going to flow smoothly.

Continue reading "Balance or Not, You are Normal" »

Balance Is Bunk: Either/Or Is False Choice for Women

Dear Debra: I'm 29.  My husband and I have an amazing 3-year-old.  I've worked part-time since he was born.  Now, not only do we need my full-time income, I'm dying to dive back into my career.  But I feel guilty, like I'm abandoning my son.  Plus, we want another baby someday.  I just can't see how to balance ambition and mothering

Continue reading "Balance Is Bunk: Either/Or Is False Choice for Women" »

Working Moms Look Back with Mixed Emotions

By Maya Dollarhide Lucca. July 14, 2008

  • Story Highlights
  • Decision for moms to work or stay home is fiercely debated, rarely easy
  • Psychiatrist: Children who are put in day care feel a real loss
  • Author Dr. Debra Condren: Keeping yourself from your own ambitions can be "soul destroying"

Continue reading " Working Moms Look Back with Mixed Emotions" »

Is It Honorable For Women To Give Up Their Ambition? Part II: Let's Get Real


When it “sunk in that mainstream schools shortchanged her severely autistic son”, Amy, 39, closed her thriving medical practice to help start charter school. For a long time, it seemed to be working out. “Then I found my husband in bed with a woman on the school committee. We went through a horrific divorce. I had to try to revive my career; at 49, it’s finally starting to take off again. But at my age, with everything I had to deal with, it was f_­­_g hard.” 


What If? Could this be you?

Continue reading "Is It Honorable For Women To Give Up Their Ambition? Part II: Let's Get Real" »

Is It Honorable For Women To Give Up Their Dreams?

Debra: You preach ambition for women. Aren’t you forgetting something? What about life balance? Mothering? –32, with better values than “just career”

Say your ambition is to be a great wife, mother, friend, or fair-minded coworker who refuses on moral grounds to educate herself about office politics. That doesn’t bother you, does it? No, because that’s socially sanctioned ambition. You’ll likely regard the following women as having chosen “honorable ambition”.

Continue reading "Is It Honorable For Women To Give Up Their Dreams?" »

When Joining Mom and Pop Is Good Business

Last week we talked about the cons of joining the family business (review my CONS advice at www.AmbitionIsNotADirtyWord). Now let’s talk pros.

Continue reading "When Joining Mom and Pop Is Good Business" »

The Day My Son Almost Died

I make my living teaching women how to unapologetically own their ambition in a society that has a double standard. It’s our prevailing cultural paradigm: ambitious men are go-getters, but ambitious women are the b-word.

I define ambition as that which drives our creative existence, provides an outlet for our talents and passions, defines who we are, and allows us to earn our full worth without apology. I walk my talk.

But just like you I take hits.

In a moment of trauma, I too succumbed to those deeply ingrained cultural beliefs about how women are supposed to behave. It happened to me when my son almost died.

Continue reading "The Day My Son Almost Died" »

The S.O.B. Diet: Silda Spitzer & The Sisterhood

We women always try and look on the bright side. Case in point: a friend who was going through a painful divorce and custody battle said to me, “Well, at least I’ll lose a few pounds—I’m on the Son of a Bitch Diet.”

Her husband—father to her children, ages two and four—had been having an affair. She kicked him out. He begged her to try again. She took him back. Several months later, she discovered he was back with his mistress.  He couldn’t help himself, he tearfully explained to his wife, his mistress was “the best friend I’ve ever had.” (Not surprisingly, he didn’t end up with the mistress after their divorce.)

After all that stress, my friend had shed her Mom jeans and was back in her skinny jeans.  She was right—the so-called Son of a Bitch Diet is the one surefire diet that works.

Continue reading "The S.O.B. Diet: Silda Spitzer & The Sisterhood" »

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I’m all about creating ways for ambitious women to share our stories with each other.

I am a business psychologist, researcher, author, executive coach, and career advisor. I lead workshops and lecture frequently on women’s need to embrace our ambition. I founded the Women’s Business Alliance, a motivational think tank for more than 2,500 women. For more details, see my about page.

I’d love to hear your story. Ambitious women owe it to ourselves—and the world—to make the contribution we were born to make. Let’s keep the dialogue flowing.


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