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The notion of “having it all” has been debated for years. And as our workplace flexes to the new realities of dual-career couples (and singles) who both want successful careers, it’s important we examine the trade-offs.
First let’s discuss “having it all”. You can but it’s all about what THAT is. See the pretty picture of the kids, dog, and happily married couple? That’s one version of “all”. Because we all come from various places and value different things, all needs to be relative.
Last week I met a couple who’ve seemingly found the secret sauce to having it all as dual career executives. Ilene S. Gordon and Bram Bluestein, a power couple offered up advice at the WSJ Women in the Workplace Summit in San Francisco.
I look at today’s debacle with balancing our work and life and it just makes me want to pull out my hair.
We brought it on ourselves.
Yes, we demanded the right to have these choices. In fact, women want it all, but now that we have them we are complaining about how difficult it is. Well, of course, it’s difficult. Anything worth it in this life is difficult.
Even for the guys, so let’s stop putting blame on the dudes.
There are just too many things we want to do in this life. Marriage. Kids. Volunteering. Leading big projects and teams. Earning great money. Traveling the world. And we want all of this plus the desire to look and feel fabulous in our bodies, wear designer clothes, drive a nice car, live in affluence and have this life full of options.
Oh yes, we want it all and we want it NOW.
I think that’s the problem. You can want it. You can have it. I believe you can have it all. The key to “all” is defining what that is and recognizing that “all” can and will change throughout life. I think it also comes with the realization of what you DO have. Many of us are focused on what we don’t have, that we don’t focus on the things we do have. I also believe ‘having it all’ is about focusing on your goals and dreams and not getting wrapped up in a world of monkey-see-monkey-do.
I think it’s also important to note that companies need to find solutions to addressing these desires. We’re driven, as humans, to progress. But again, progress is how you define it.
Before you can even define “all”, you have to understand and know yourself. You have to know the good, the bad and the ugly. You have to be prepared to own it, invest in it, and then define very discreetly what your “all” is and creating a realistic path to getting it.
I am convinced it takes at least 30 years on this earth to get any sense of self-awareness. As I approach 45, I am excited about what that time will bring for my own life, but we are all on a different journey, and really, our definition of “all” is not the same.
A few reassuring points…
- Define “what all is”. The right balance is learned. This means it’s going to take you time. I know we want it now but the point is you have to pace it. Life is a marathon.
- You will drop balls. Just make sure the balls you drop are the kinds that don’t break but bounce back. When you are good at what you do, people will desire more of your time.
- Learn now how to Practice No.
- Ask for help. I have a hard time with this one but I’m getting better.
- Pay for help. Ah yes, the art of outsourcing. I have no problem with this one. If you’re going to free up your time to do the work that matters, you have to let go of being the super-domestic-diva.
- Always lunch. I am a big fan of this advice. Ladies who lunch build great networks and understand it takes a village to “have it all”.
- Thank the men in your life. My dad and husband are the reason I am able to do the things I do. I didn’t get to pick my dad (boy did I get lucky) but I did pick my spouse. The data overwhelming shows you have to have a supportive spouse. Researchers found that people with relatively prudent and reliable partners tend to perform better at work, earning more promotions, making more money, and feeling more satisfied with their jobs.
A special shout out to our male readers: Thank-you for all you do to support your partners, spouses, sisters, and daughters in this crazy busy opportunity-packed world women have created for ourselves. You guys, rock.
What do you think? What is “your all”? And are you doing any of the above to help you chart your own course to getting it?