The Secret To "Having It All"

Posted: Jan 13 2014, 1:01pm CST | by


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It was 1:45 PM on a Wednesday. I was sweating bullets as I ran to catch the train. I wasn’t headed to one of my usual big client meetings or a new business pitch. I was headed off to my job as Troop Leader of Daisies Troop 483.

I accepted the role because the other troop at our school was full, and there were a lot of sad six year-olds, including my daughter, who were unable to join. My daughter begged me, and so it began. Every other Wednesday, I run through the streets of Manhattan in my heels with a bag of crafts and patches in hand, ready to be Supermom.

There’s only one problem with this scenario: I feel like a giant failure. I’m always leaving an important meeting to get there. I’m always rushing and running. And I’m always, always afraid that I’m not doing enough to make sure that these girls have the most incredible Girl Scout experience ever. Do I prepare enough? Are the crafts I’m doing teaching them the skills they need to become strong, confident girls and women? Did I contact the snack mom and make sure that snack will be there on time? The list goes on.

On this particular Wednesday, I had a 12:30 PM meeting where I was mentoring young entrepreneurs who are trying to grow their businesses. One woman looked at me and announced to the group: “Carrie, you’re living the life I want. You completely and totally have it all. Supermom, CEO, Wife….it’s amazing!”

Yeah, right, I thought to myself, as I nervously checked my watch to make sure I would catch the 1:45 train. I feel like a total disaster. And then I headed out the door. It was during that mad dash to the train–crafts in hand and heels about to crack–that I decided to share with you the ways to “have it all.”

The Five Foolproof Steps To “Having It All”

1. Define what it means to you.

A while back, I wrote about how we as women are our own worst enemies. The most important piece of having it all is accepting the fact that your version of having it all may not be another person’s version. Having it all for some may be a life without children–working and traveling and enjoying the freedom that comes with that. Having it all for some may be embracing the role of a being an incredible stay at home parent. And for some, it’s leaning in  and setting a standard for women in corporate America. When we judge others’ choices, we are taking away a piece of our own focus on being the best that we can be (when we look at the covers of magazines and feel inferior, we are doing the exact same thing). If you can, put your blinders on–imagine the life that you want, accept that it won’t be perfect—and just go for it. Remember: You do you.

2. Separate the “must do” from the “would be nice to do.”

When I tell women this, they immediately think that the “must do” list contains chores. After all, a “must do” seems like an obligation. It’s actually anything but. Some things on my “must do” list include putting myself first, being home for dinner five nights a week, and doing at least one special activity with each of my girls (thus, the Girl Scouts). There’s nothing about how many meetings to attend or which clients to speak to. There’s nothing about organizing my house–which is something that I desperately WANT to do, but don’t really have time for at this moment. My “must do” list includes the things that I think help me be the best person I can be. It’s a list of the bare essentials–the things that I need to be the best leader, mom, and wife that I can be. There’s a “must do” list for every person out there–you don’t need to be a mom, or a wife, or even a woman. It’s simply what matters to YOU.

3. Make “NO” your best friend.

My “would be nice” list is a mile long and filled with interesting opportunities that are presented to me daily. Who wouldn’t want to advise the latest and greatest new start-up? Who wouldn’t want to take a trip with other business leaders to Richard Branson’s private island? Who wouldn’t want to be the most frequent Mystery Reader in their daughter’s first grade class? Who wouldn’t want to go to their favorite class at the gym five times a week? You might not want to do those things, but I certainly do. And I have to say no. Because even my “would be nice to do” list has to be prioritized. Of a list of 200 or so items that I’m presented with monthly, I choose a select few that work within my schedule and priorities. The rest, I kindly decline. I only learned to say no within the past few years–and it’s been a game changer. For example, I recently decided to resign from two of the many boards that I serve on–the time of the meetings interfered with other more “must do” commitments. I found that by resigning, I had time freed up and the ability to actually give more to those non-profits as a result.

4. Recognize that it’s a myth.

Salvatore Dali once said: “Have no fear of perfection–you’ll never reach it.” Life is a balancing act; the moments you feel like a perfect wife, mother, employee, friend, and person are often few and far between. Imagine feeling those things all at the same time? And once we accept that with every choice we make come both benefits and sacrifices, we will know that there is no “having it all.” It’s a myth–an airbrushed illusion, just like the magazine covers of women that we all aspire to be. Those women, behind the scenes, don’t feel that they “have it all” either. They have the same struggles you do–are faced with the same choices. They’ve just accepted the choices they’ve made and made the sacrifices that have allowed them to get on that cover.

What do you think “having it all” means? Do you think it’s possible?

Source: Forbes

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