My mentors are a mixed bag.
To the superwomen who went before my generation: I'm so proud of you for standing up and boldly taking the bull by the horns and fighting for equal rights, equal pay and all the wonderful things that have started to happen post the women's rights movement.
I look at today's debacle with women and balancing their lives and career 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. 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 women 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. Yeah. You know what I'm talking about, girlfriend.
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 (on average, because I don't want to generalize), at least 30 years on this earth to get any sense of self-awareness. As I approach 40 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.
I recently had the chance to hear Sara Ortwein, a successful executive at Exxon Mobil whose about 20 years ahead of me in her journey give her advice on having it all. It was validating to hear her perspective because I think, write, and speak a lot about these things.
A few reassuring points...
- Define "what all is". The right balance is learned. This means it's going to take you time. I know, ladies, 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. And ladies, your spouse is one of the most important decisions you will make in this journey.
A special shout out to my 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?