#SheWearsThePants: Nikki Carter on Confidence, Being Proactive and Planning

Nikki Carter, San Diego, CA, Writer/Editor/Content-Strategist

What do you do - and what drives you in your career as well as personal endeavors?

Earlier this year, I left my job in corporate healthcare after over a decade in the field to grow my own business, which I had been working on part-time prior to that. I currently offer content strategy, writing, and editing services. I also create content under my own name in the form of articles, personal essays, and poetry. I’m driven by a need to express my own perspective and help others do the same.

Ambition: What does ambition personally mean to you - what place does it have in your life? Do you think our culture perceives “ambition” to be a dirty word for women? Why or why not?

I would say ambition means where/who I aspire to be and what I want to do with my time here. I honestly don’t think of the word “ambition” all that much. I know what I want to achieve and I suppose some people would say I am ambitious, but things like honesty and alignment are more important to me than being ambitious. If I’m setting goals that are true to myself and accomplishing them in the same way, that’s all I could hope for.

I think our culture has historically been very misogynistic and has double standards in place for women as it pertains to career, our personal lives, etc. Many people are more comfortable when women are silent and not strong, so I would say that women with ambitions beyond that do make a lot of people uncomfortable.

What does ‘having confidence’ mean to you - what place does it have in your life? How do you work on it?

Being confident means trusting in myself and my reality, knowing I can do what I say, and believing the things I want will happen. It also means taking care of my mind and body so that I can show up every day and do my best. I would say many things I do work to make me more confident: pursuing new physical hobbies, meeting new people, working on different projects, taking care of my skin, sleeping enough, saving money, and so on.

Goals: Please share one of your current, important goals (can be personal or work-related).

I’m working on developing more compassion both for myself and others.

Why is this a goal and how did you realize it was something that you wanted to work on? What’s your plan for achieving it?

I can be really hard on myself and I think this spills out into my expectations of others. I am learning perfectionist tendencies are a way to avoid looking at deep-seated issues and that perfection is an illusion anyway. I think being a more compassionate person will allow me more space for forgiveness, understanding, and connection — particularly within my relationship with my partner.

To work on this, I reflect on these goals each morning and then follow that with a yoga and meditation practice. I’ve also started asking myself in difficult situations, “What would compassion look like in this moment?” and trying to use that as a guidepost.

What do you do if you are having a hard time defining goals? How do you stay motivated to fulfill your goals and sense of ambition, and what do you do when you get stuck?
I’m a pretty intuitive person so I look inward a lot. I have been really into working with the cycles of the moon lately and using Many Moons, which was given to me as a gift. The weekly prompts have really helped me to discover what I want to work on, whether that’s growing my business, setting boundaries with clients, or being a better listener.

I also do nightly check-ins where I detail what I’m grateful for and I’ve found that’s a good time to notice things I’m not happy about or ways I want to be different. Then I use that information to set goals to make those shifts happen.

If there are times in my life when goal-setting feels forced, I just try to enjoy where I’m at and the good things in my life until a direction becomes clearer. I think part of achieving is allowing yourself to enjoy the abundance and successes you do have. It can’t always be pushing forward — rest is equally important.

What is your outfit when you really have to get shi*t done?
Well, I work from home so this answer might be a little different than expected!

I’m a huge fan of high-waisted pants for my body type. I would say my go-to outfit right now is the wide-leg crop pants, a mockneck tank, and slides.

What is one fashion tip / hack you swear by for a quick or on-the-go change?

I have a lot of tattoos so when I worked in an office, just taking the cardigan off and maybe changing my shoes could make a world of difference in taking an outfit from work to play.

What is your process - or what are your guidelines - when choosing to buy something new for your wardrobe?
I’d rather spend more on high-quality items than spend less on things I’ll need to replace soon. I usually identify I want something — say, a pair of summer sandals — and then figure out my criteria and search across a handful of sites to narrow down my choices. 

What activities do you do outside of your full-time gig (whether that’s work, parenting or something else)? How does it bring balance to your life? How does it make you more successful in your full-time gig?
I do yoga, meditate, rock climb, read, travel a lot with my partner, and go to music shows. I’m working on a poetry compilation and I have an idea for a newsletter I’m kicking around in my brain as well.

When I moved to Sonoma County earlier this year, I couldn’t find any resources connecting women of color with outdoor activities so I started my own group and we’ve gone hiking and to happy hours, things like that. I’m hoping to either find or start something similar when I move to San Diego in a couple of months.

I think anything you can do to expand your comfort zone contributes to your success, and following the things that interest you leads you to new discoveries and insights. I bring pieces of everything I’ve ever experienced to the projects I work on, so being the most well-rounded version of myself benefits everyone in my life.