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There is, and probably will always be a significant amount of hand-wringing over the topic of “having it all”, especially when it comes to women. To paraphrase one of my favorite observational comedians, Steven Wright, “if you had it all, where would you put it?”
There is a significant amount of wisdom in that statement.
In my many years of career coaching and strategy, this issue has come up in some form or another about a bazillion times. And yes, the questions usually come from women. I was once on a women’s leadership panel at a major university. The audience was full of very earnest young women who were sure that those of us on the panel, all successful in our fields, had THE answer, had found the magic bullet, and they sat on the edge of their seats, waiting for us to drop the golden nugget on being a rock star in every area of life. You could hear a pin drop after every time that type of question was asked. Those of us on the panel would look at each other and laugh. We knew that life is messy and there is no magic formula that works for everyone. In fact, there is no magic formula, period.
For example, my best advice for any young woman looking to get married is to find the right partner, one who values you and your professional aspirations, and who isn’t just looking for someone to replace his mother. If your eyes are open when you are dating, they aren’t tough to spot. But that’s just me. That advice may work for you, or it may not.
As women, we spend too much time second-guessing ourselves,
then turning that uncomfortable second-guessing
into judgment and directing it toward other women.
Why not? It’s easier than asking and answering tough questions about ourselves- who we are and what we want. And those are very tough questions.
If you have children, you might make different personal and professional decisions when they are 6 than when they are 16 or 22 and off the payroll. Or maybe you won’t. Only you and your significant other know what is right for you. As you move through your 40’s and 50’s, your confidence and sense of self may increase, and move into sharper focus. Will you make the same decision about your “its” then as you did in your 20’s? Probably not.
As you age, you will grow and change, and most likely, your priorities, interests, and values will change too, as will your relationships, your health, and your financial situation. And with those changes, your “its” will change. No one can or should be able to tell what to value, and to what degree. If they try, and it conflicts with what your gut is telling you, nod politely and move on.
“Having your all” in your 20’s is a different life than “having your all” in your 50’s.
And, your “all” will always differ from those around you. And that is not only okay, it is desirable. The trick is to get clarity on what it is for you on the day you are making those big decisions.
What matters the very most to you today? And how can you get it all?
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