We live in a culture in which pursuing a successful career and being female don’t always mesh seamlessly. Workplace sexism is alive and well, and cracking the ever-present glass ceiling to earn a leadership position is typically difficult at best, regardless of a woman’s qualifications. With smart strategies, you can climb the ladder of success without gender-bias thwarting your efforts.

Plan your process. What are your goals? One of the best things you can do to ensure you move up the career ladder is to identify your personal goals and the steps you should take to reach them. There is a great acronym for helping to streamline the goal-setting process: SMART. SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-limited. You can apply that term to all your goals, whether they apply to your growth inside or outside the workplace.

Learn as much as you can, as often as you can. You want to be a standout employee regardless of your gender, and one of the most basic ways to accomplish this feat is to learn as much as you can about your industry, your clients and your individual role. Not only should you always be willing to learn from others, you should also be actively seeking out learning opportunities. If your company and your peers aren’t good places to turn, fire up the internet. There are ebooks on just about every business subject or you can take an online course, both of which can help you brush up on your hard and soft skills.

Use your voice. Sexism is alive and well. According to some studies, when women assert themselves, they are apt to be seen as angry or aggressive, while men are seen as serious achievers. Women are more likely to be seen as emotional, although they actually do not respond more emotionally to situations than men do. Men are likely to be seen as “having a bad day.” However, when women become upset, they are “just emotional.” You won’t be able to overcome those mindsets, but you can successfully navigate stereotypes with a few strategies in place.

For instance, addressing your gender directly can defuse circumstances and prime the pump when it comes to meetings with the good ol’ boys. Men often talk over women in work situations, and can even take credit for their ideas. Rather than allowing those situations, opening a meeting by addressing the fact that you are the only (or one of the only) women present and that you might need to speak up to be heard at times tells the guys you won’t be talked over. At the same time, you can offer up that since they are used to working with women, you know they will respect you and your ideas. In this manner, you lay the groundwork for mutual respect and having a voice. Forbes suggests maintaining a collaborative tone when you assert your ideas in meetings, and avoid sounding accusatory or apologetic.

Build rapport. You can’t become one of the guys, but you can use your wits to lower gender bias and help men see you as an “insider.” Crack some jokes when the time is right, yet maintain professionalism. It can help men see you as a peer rather than an intruder. Also, don’t be afraid to point out your purpose. Remind your colleagues you are there because you were trained and are skilled. You can point out particular qualifications and achievements in a manner that is matter of fact, rather than confrontational or whiny.

Another suggestion is to participate in office politics. Many women prefer to steer clear of game playing so they can focus on business, but as The Guardian points out, networking and engaging in behind-the-scenes activities can help you earn respect.

Find your tribe. Oftentimes, women who participate with teams of men find themselves overlooked when it comes to promotions or accolades. When possible, try to collaborate with other women or work alone. Women are more likely to be recognized when they aren’t in the shadow of male counterparts, and you set yourself up for more success. In addition, you should try to connect with other women who are leaders in their careers, even if they aren’t in the same company or even the same field. By supporting and mentoring each other, women can advise and shape advancement together.

Climbing the ladder of success continues to be especially challenging for career-minded women. Be SMART, be an active learner, speak up, build rapport and connect with other women. You can navigate gender bias and achieve your goals.

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Millions of Americans feel unsatisfied with their jobs at some point in their careers, and sometimes a major setback — such as a demotion, being passed over for a promotion or raise, or facing big changes that are out of our control — can have devastating effects. You may be feeling like it’s time to make a move to a different company, or perhaps you need to take a break and figure out where to go from here. There is no right answer for everyone, and it’s important to figure out your goals and motivations, in addition to a plan, before you act.

Of course, some individuals take these setbacks as a sign that it’s time to finally go after what they want and start their own business, and it may sound like a huge undertaking, but it’s not as difficult as you may think. There are plenty of ways to go into business for yourself that don’t require a lot of startup cash.

Here are some of the best ways to get back on your feet after a major setback.

Update Your Resume

Even if you’re not sure whether you want to change jobs, it’s always a good idea to have the most updated, polished version of a resume as possible. This way, if you do decide to make a move, you’ll be armed with the perfect representation of your work history.

You might also consider doing something new that will impact your resume, such as learning a new language, taking a class at the community college, volunteering, or joining the board of a local organization.

Take Some Time for Yourself

Depending on exactly what the setback was, you may be feeling unappreciated or upset. It’s a good idea to take a little break and focus on yourself, even if it’s just for the weekend. Get out of town for a day or two, or spend some time with friends. Incorporating self-care is also a great way to focus on your mental and physical health. Eating healthy foods, exercising, getting a massage, and even taking long walks are perfect ways to practice self-care.

Use this time to really think about what happened and the events that led up to it; this could help you reach a more informed decision about what your next move will be.

Think about your strengths

Going into business for yourself may be just the career move for you, but it’s important to have a solid plan beforehand. Think about what your strengths are and where your happiness might lie. Do you love animals and enjoy being around dogs — even other people’s dogs? Maybe you’re a good fit for a dog walking business or becoming a pet sitter. Are you a creative person? Do you love to bake? Consider starting a cake baking business. Or are you a fitness expert? Do you love helping others get into shape? You can get certified fairly quickly and being on your way toward being paid to help others take better care of themselves.

Whatever the business is, make sure it’s something you love to do. And don’t forget to do some research in the local area to find out more about your competition.

Get educated

You might have an idea about how to get started, but even the smallest businesses need a little help. If you don’t have anyone you can ask for advice, consider taking a class in business at a local college or from a reputable online college. You can learn valuable information about how to get started and what not to do in the beginning.

If taking a class isn’t for you, there is a wealth of solid information available online that will help you learn about starting a business and everything that goes into it. You’ll also need to read up on funding, compliance, and cash flow management.

It’s easy to be intimidated by the thought of venturing out on your own, but you have to look at it as taking your destiny into your own hands. When you run your own business, you are no longer beholden to others. Nobody is saying it will be easy, but if you have the determination to educate yourself and follow through, the rewards will be more than worth it.

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Perhaps you’ve spent a significant part of your work life nodding off at your cubicle while secretly longing to find a career you actually love. Maybe you were quite vocal about it, telling anyone you bumped into in the breakroom that you couldn’t wait to leave your current job for good. Or maybe it’s not that you’re necessarily unhappy with your current position, but have high hopes of making it to the top, and weren’t able to make the moves you needed to in order to get there. Whatever the case may be, you’re here now, and you’re looking for a change. In fact, you’re looking for a change in career that’s so seamless, it doesn’t even feel like work.

Well, look no more! Here are a few tips to help you find and live out the career that you’ve always dreamed of!

Identify your passion

Typically, your passion is something that you love so much, you would do it for free. Your passion doesn’t take a lot of effort, nor does it rob you of your energy. It is something that you can be so engaged in that you don’t even realize how many hours have passed. If you know what that “something” is, that is the direction in which you want to take your career! Whether you are a fashion designer, musician or a dog lover, own it, and figure out how you can make money doing it.

If you are unsure of what your passion is or how to even find it, think back to your childhood. Did you have any talents or hobbies that you let fall to the side as you grew older? Did you excel in any subjects at school, like math or english? Give yourself some time to dig deep into your memory bank to see if you can unveil your passion. If more than one thing comes to mind, that’s OK! That just means you have more avenues to explore until you find the right fit. Just know that once you’ve recognized your passion, you’re halfway to success!

Build it up

Now that you’ve identified your dream job, it’s time to get to work! It would be great if you could just uncover your passion, then dive straight into making an income from it, but unfortunately, that’s seldom how it works. This is the time for you to polish what you’re good at by incorporating it into your daily routine. If you want to make a career as a writer, then you need to write every day! It doesn’t matter if you write short stories, blogs or novels — all that matters is that you’re using your “writing muscle” daily. Think of it like exercise — the more you do it, the stronger you become. Do not make the mistake of thinking that because your passion comes to you freely, it doesn’t need to be practiced.

Put yourself out there

Now that you’ve done all the groundwork, it’s time to sell it! The only way to turn your passion into a career is to let people know about it! You can make people aware of what you do in various ways. If you are a musician, start playing in local talent expos or nightlife venues. If you are an artist, display your work in a local art gallery. Every time you encounter someone is an opportunity to express what you do — take advantage!

As you grow into doing what you love, be fearless! Don’t be afraid to tell others what you do. It’s your duty to share your talents with the world, because you never know how it can positively impact you and those around you.

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