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Women In Business

What Does It Mean to Have It All?

I’ve seen this quote shared on several social media sites this week and it inspired me to think about “having it all.”

I often wonder is it possible to be a phenomenal parent and loving spouse while excelling at business and practicing self-care? It seems like excellence in one area leads to failure in another. Just yesterday my daughter came into my room complaining about me still working. She exclaimed that all I do on this quarantine is work! #momguilt

I’ve been thinking about what it means to have it all. This pandemic has forced us to work and parent differently and tested the strengthen of our partnerships. Below are some ideas to help you “have it all.” For the record, I am far from perfect in these areas and still working to improve myself. 

  1. Increase Communication – Let’s be clear…increase communication with other people not within your own head. The objective of increased communication is to understand more and assume less. I am super guilty of increasing communication in my own head when I am juggling a lot. I have a gift for assuming the worst and not asking enough questions to understand other’s perspectives. For example, our daughter started kindergarten last year. I wasted hours communicating to myself about the situations that would take me out of work and dramatically assumed I would be considered a failure if I needed to leave the office early to pick my daughter up from school. You know what silenced my head trash and provided me with a ton of relief…actually talking to my boss. When I opened up and shared what I was thinking and fearing it gave us the opportunity to talk through the what ifs. As we embrace our current reality or homeschooling and working virtually I encourage more communication. How clearly have you communicated your situation to your boss and your team? How openly have you discussed what you need during this situation with your partner? What conversations have you had with your children around your work schedule and their desires? If there is one thing that we are all learning from this pandemic it is that we are humans living life and it’s far from perfect. Now more than ever there seems to be increased compassion for juggling work and parenting which can open the door for future work-life integration conversations. 
  2. Expect Messy – What are your expectations of having it all? Perfectionism can rear its ugly head leaving us feeling unsatisfied and like we are failing. If you are juggling a business, a marriage and raising humans it’s going to get messy. Schedules are constantly changing, people have needs and some days are downright exhausting. I naturally have high expectations and prefer a structured environment, but I am learning how to go with the flow and embrace the chaos right now.  
  3. Choose Happiness – I am working on completing Yale’s Science of Well-Being course and last week we learned that 50% of happiness comes from genetic makeup, 10% from external factors and 40% from our thoughts and actions. This is great news to learn that we have a significant amount of control over our happiness. When we are dealing with new circumstances like homeschooling while working virtually it can be overwhelming. Putting systems in place like a morning routine (even if it is only a couple of minutes) and practicing gratitude can help you choose happiness. 
  4. Comparison Steals Your Happiness – All of the work you do to choose happiness can be quickly unraveled by a social media scrolling session. I recently found myself comparing my business to the businesses of other women who have been in business multiple years. I left my corporate role in December! It’s not helpful to compare my beginning with someone else’s middle or end. It’s so important to recognize what makes you happy. Your definition of excelling in business, a loving marriage and excellent parenting is likely wildly different than mine and that’s ok. I don’t get a lot of joy from crafting, some meals come from a box and movies buy me time to grow my business. I love my family and the work that I do so I owe it to myself to stop comparing. 
  5. Apologies Aren’t Always Necessary – I remember last year walking down the hall while my daughter was riding her scooter (city living means indoor scooting) when she bumped into the wall. I asked her not to bump into the wall and she immediately apologized. My five-year-old daughter was apologizing for something that was not a big deal and it hit me. For some reason, women are conditioned to apologize for everything. “I’m sorry” seems to be a habitual response to feedback. The more we apologize for the small stuff that doesn’t really matter, the more we diminish our confidence. I’ve noticed an uptick in apologies from the women I’ve connected with over the last couple of weeks. I’ve received several email replies that start with “I’m sorry for the delayed response” or heard “I’m sorry I am late” on calls because there is a lot going on at home. I’ve been working on saving “I am sorry” for the times when I am genuinely sorry. I’ve replaced “I’m sorry” with “I appreciate your patience” or “thank you for waiting” so I don’t have to constantly apologize. 

Having it all is not easy and takes constant communication and focus. Adding the complexity of homeschooling to working and parenting creates a whole new challenge. It’s my hope we emerge from this pandemic with a new sense of appreciation for teachers, stay-at-home parents and working parents. Let’s believe we are all doing the best we can and support one another through these unprecedented times.