Go Hard AND Go Home: The Ultimate Guide for Managing Love and Success

This article originally appeared in the June 2018 issue of ESSENCE

I entered 2008 with the goal to gain at least 200 pounds every two weeks. That’s right. I wanted a full serving of a man on a date at least twice a month. As long as he had a nice smile and solid values and was financially stable, I was open to meeting him. I had settled in to my job and cute apartment in New York City. What was missing was a steamy love life. I realized that, like the position and the place, hot dates were not going to come find me. I had to be proactive about achieving the connection I craved. And let me tell you, my life transformed when I leaned in to love.

Over the past ten years, I’ve traveled the world learning the secrets of successful daters and couples, while navigating the workforce. It is an honor to serve you as I hunt down the latest on matters of the heart—from walking around Harlem asking women about their most recent orgasm to producing surprise marriage proposals at Walt Disney World to speaking at last year’s Europe -Dating Awards in -Amsterdam.

I share my research, including insight from more than 100 working wives, in Boss Bride: The Powerful Woman’s Playbook for Love and Success (St. Martin’s Press). Below are the top strategies to increase your satisfaction.

“So what is a Boss Bride?” you ask, giving me a side-eye. Well, she’s a woman who fuses the characteristics of an effective boss—focus, strategy, delegation—with the best qualities of a bride at her wedding: being happy and charming and enjoying the moment. Every woman can be a Boss Bride whether she has been married for ten years or is unsure if she ever wants to say “I do.” No matter your job title or relationship status, you can tap into the mentality to make today one of your best days. Before turning 30, I had battled cancer, been laid off from my dream position and found out I was the other woman. I learned early to own my power and live in the now. My biggest Boss Bride moments came on the same June day two years ago. That morning I got the contract to write this book (hell, yeah!) and that evening I left a relationship with a man I had thought I would marry (ah, hell!). I did what was right for me, not focusing on what it looked like. It was the perfect chance to recommit to the one person who would be with me every day of my life: the woman in the mirror. When I was courageous enough to meet the best me and make a vow to always love her, my life blossomed to include dates on different continents and even a new soul mate. That taught me people don’t treat you the way you treat them; people treat you the way they see you treat yourself.

There’s a reason the cruelest punishment in prison is to be placed in solitary confinement, in an isolated room with no contact to the outside world. We were not created to be alone. So decisions on who we share our hearts, bodies and beds with are the most important ones we can make. Set a goal for how you will expand love in your life this summer and put it on the calendar. One of the best habits of happy working wives was to schedule their personal lives just as they did in their careers.

You are living in your own love story right now and it’s time to declare your destiny. In coaching I have clients fast–forward and write about their sixty-fifth birthday party. Who is there? What are you proud to have accomplished? What are you doing in your life and where do you live? Take time to imagine your tomorrow to better plan today.

The most important possession of a Boss Bride is a ring—the ringing of your phone. My book exists because my friend Adenike Olanrewaju connected me to literary agent Regina Brooks. I met Oprah Winfrey because my girl Alicia Quarles invited me to an event. It is essential that you identify and cultivate your support system to have the life you desire. Assess your network for the following roles and commit to expand where needed:

My team: People who help bring my dreams to life.

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My support: People who care about my well-being.

My sponsors: People who connect me to opportunities.

My advisers: Accomplished people with sound insight.

My protégés: People who can learn from me.

My rabbits: People who show what’s possible for my next.

To expand my Love and Success Squad, I joined The Wing, a social club and a network of coworking community spaces for women with locations in New York City and D.C. that’s growing globally. The community includes powerful women like recording artist Candice Hoyes, I Don’t Do Clubs founder Genese Jamilah, and Geenie cofounder and CEO Chana Ginelle Ewing. Geenie offers GeenieBox, a monthly collection of positive lifestyle products curated by influential Black women including Michelle Williams and Black Lives Matter cofounder Patrisse Khan-Cullors. The June box is curated by yours truly, thanks to my squad.

As a proud feminist, I know there is still no way around the fact that our beautiful bodies have optimal fertility. We are born with all the eggs we will ever have biologically, and 35 is the average age a woman’s egg health begins to decline, according to the National Institutes of Health. Recent breakthroughs have vastly improved the success of preserving a woman’s egg for future pregnancies through freezing, which many employers are now covering. If having biological children is a goal, make sure to ask your gynecologist to test your anti-Mullerian hormone as well as follicle-stimulating hormone levels, which are believed to be indicators of your fertility. And since your eggs are still with you, treat your body as if you were already pregnant: with care.

Even with an amazing career, you cannot marry your job. Being your best requires a balanced life to go hard at work, then go home. For a Boss Bride, going HARD has a recipe: Heart Actions. Researched Decisions. Focus on your heart’s desires, then make informed choices. At a dinner party earlier this year, an old friend—and former ESSENCE Single Man of the Month—asked me out (that’s him as my man prop on the opening page of this article). I was hesitant to accept at first because I had only ever seen him in terms of a platonic relationship. When I took the time to get to know him and looked at the qualities I wanted in a partner—thanks to checking my checklist as outlined in the book’s third chapter—I realized he was worth a shot. I’ve been pleasantly surprised and am glad I said yes to an opportunity that I almost missed out on.

One of the best gifts you can give yourself is to unlock your sensuality, that powerful energy source. Many pages of Boss Bride were written while I was wearing my furry kitten heels that I had snagged on a trip to Paris. Commit to doing whatever it takes to feel like a goddess. The more turned on you are by your own self, the more unstoppable you become.