We cannot have it all.

This weekend, as I worked on an (assigned) article about having it all, I returned to a conclusion I’d reached long ago.

We cannot have it all.  It’s impossible.

Or, more aptly put, I re-concluded there’s no way *I* can have it all.

(if youre thinking this wasnt a popular stance with my editor you’d be assuming correctly.)

The “all” I was assigned to ponder was work-success, familial-success, personal satisfaction and (this one I added) a fulfilling spiritual life.

It was definitely the mainstream definition of “all.”

wpid IMG 2623 300x225 We cannot have it all.
This is my definition of ‘all’.

Back in my younger days (post-marriage/pre-motherhood) I believed this was all (pun intended) easier for men.

I wrongly thought, because the majority of family-stuffs traditionally fall on the woman, it would always be harder for me.

That no matter how egalitarian the structure of our relationship I’d never have it “all” by sheer virtue of being the crazybusy, frequently harried, mother-type.

wpid 2011 06 28 16.51.44 225x300 We cannot have it all.
Im  never too busy for her to lean on.

I realize now we both are compelled to make choices.

Shabbat or working late.

Volunteering at school or squeezing in more freelance work.

Morning slumber or up-at-crack writing so I can meet the bus after-school.

Kindergarten assembly or missing a meeting.

ATT 1321132856132 photo 300x225 We cannot have it all.
What I choose.

I believe there exists ZERO possibility for work/life balance.

I always have.

This fact used to make a woman I adored (and who was an amazing coach) crazy as she steadfastly believed it was something we could achieve.

It’s never happening for this misfit.  For me it is 100% about work/life harmony.

I’m constantly juggling.

Typically with 2 balls happily aloft while the third comes perilously close to slamming to the ground.

ATT 1322482903619 photo 225x300 We cannot have it all.
I cant believe my ‘ball’ is in KINDER.

 

My way of snatching the rolled up sock ball before it hit the ground used to be burning the midnight oil…

ATT 1324469825946 photo 225x300 We cannot have it all.
She.So.Fancy.

 

…until I realized the ball which slammed to the earth then was me.

So I snagged that one, stole away for some me-time lobed it high in the air, & invariably another careened toward  missed deadlines slammage till I snatched it up just-in-time too.

IMG 0754 300x200 We cannot have it all.
My ‘ball’ making ME fancy.

While writing and editing (editing & rewriting) last night I had a realization.

One you may have already reached, but which was newish for this bleary mama.

I can have it all.

I *do* have it all.

I just need to remain fluid with my definition and remember it will shift & morph as life does the same.

I just need to look inside when I create my version of ‘all’ and tune *out* external cues & messaging.

I just need to remember work/life harmony will look different for me than it will for another & that’s ok.

I just need to find, formulate & maintain an ‘all’ which works for me & my family.

wpid 2010 05 20 10.21.58 224x300 We cannot have it all.
 Work/life harmony?

 

Do you disagree with me? Do you believe work/life balance exists?

Have you found an approach to ‘having it all’ which works for you?

When was the last time you challenged yourself about your priorities?

Anyone LOVE this Warren G song as I do?

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Comments

  1. Lara says

    I am about to leave for work so I can come home early and bring my boys to a camp.
    I’m with you I have it all and the all I have picked and it can be tiring LOL

  2. says

    When you redefine ‘all’, you can achieve it. I don’t believe that we can have it ALL if ALL is a full-time career, full-time family and full-time self. The only way to achieve that is to give something up and it usually ends up being the self.

    Redefine your ALL to be your top priority and you’ve got it. For some, that priority is a career and for other’s it’s not.

    Carla, I love how you’ve been living your priorities this year and not sugarcoating it when it’s had to be a conscious decision. This is the real side of ‘having it all’ because it’s your all.

    Can I be you when I grow up?

  3. says

    I’m with you. I don’t think we can “have it all” ALL the time. Things ebb and flow. It’s about finding the right balance between the two that fits our and our families’ needs at any given time. And “fluid”. You’re right about the “fluid”. In all ways. ;)

  4. Lara says

    Oh, I also like how you added in spirituality and not fitness.
    Life is about more than being skinny.

    • Steve says

      So true.
      It might sound sappy from a guy, but I liked that aspect too.
      I need to lose about 50 pounds and can get too focused on that and forget my girl.

  5. TIna says

    I have been feeling very depleted recently.
    I’m with you on we cannot have it all, but am not sure I can handle my current all either!

    I do think it is harder for us women.

  6. says

    I am constantly unbalanced for these very reasons listed above.

    Lately, I’ve been thinking about why I’m unbalanced and it is for good reasons, not bad. I try so hard to help people in my profession, and that makes a person vulnerable but also proud. I’ve discussed with my husband about reserving some of myself at work instead of putting it all on the line, but he says that I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t care so much.

    Like you, I own my business. Like you, I am a writer. There’s no balance in either. People criticize and tell their opinion, which often isn’t nice. We probably could be stay-at-home moms and have more balance, but we’d miss wonderful opportunities.

    I agree that family is *most* important. I love my dog too. But, maybe unbalance is my balance.

    :-) Marion

  7. says

    Amen amen! YOU define your “all.” I do not have YOUR all, but I do have my all. It is messy and unbalanced to most, but it works just fine for me.
    You continue to make us think Miz and remind us to strive for self acceptance. yep, that exists, right? I think it does.

    • says

      Agree with Lindsay. You always get us thinking. I think I also have my “all” i I am happy with the harmony in my life and how it’s ever changing. Great, great post.

  8. says

    I started reading and was like “pffft, it’s totally possible to have it all!” I like how your story ended. I accept the “crazy” as part of the “all”. No one ever said we’re supposed to be smiling and humming tunes through it “all”. I have a unique situation, but I believe we built it with a belief that nothing is impossible. The key is to create your own life, not try to copy someone else’s. You rock! xo

  9. says

    I am similar – there’s always one ball that comes perilously close to crashing to the ground, but somehow I always manage to catch it before it hits. My life may be crazy and I may find myself constantly reformatting what “all” is, but it’s all good. I work (sometimes for pay, sometimes not), but I do it a lot less than most because it’s the least important piece of all for us right now. I know there will come a time when that piece will take more priority, but right now our “balance” and our “all” are different than they were a few years ago and then they will be in a few years. In other words, it’s all about what works at a given time LOL.

  10. says

    I love the idea of work/life harmony and remaning fluid as things shift and change in your life. When I read that, I let out a big sigh of relief. I think that there’s such a huge expectation, particularly placed on women, that we can and should be able to balance and juggle everything. It’s become the new norm. I’m not saying that we should strive to achieve and excel in all areas of our life but I think that we need to be a bit more forgiving of ourselves. It’s not going to be 100% at all times because what having it all does change and shift and it is defined by *you* and not outside expectations. Thank you for this.

  11. says

    Love your posts because they are always creative and different! I didn’t realize until now you had a little girl…wow, she is soooo adorable. I like the phrase best I read recently, “You can have anything you want, just not everything you want.” I agree with that. “All” is different to everyone…it’s about priorities. Taking a good, long look at what matters most will help.

  12. says

    I think the importance lays in balancing what is most important to you. There is no perfect balance because there will always be a need to juggle things around. Finding your balance isn’t always easy and it’s not always going to remain as is once you find it. Like everything, we change and evolve and we must go along and adjust and re-adjust ourselves and our overall balance to keep things going :)

  13. Lori says

    I love the word “harmony” over “balance”. I do agree it is hard to juggle it all as a mom so we do similar in our home…we define what “all” is to us on an ever changing basis. It keeps us living without so much stress.

  14. says

    i think we can have it all, just not all at the same time. We want it all in the same moment, but we didn’t get 90+ years on Earth to have it all in the same moment. Some days will be glorious triumphs at work, others will be sacred family time..it’s an ongoing flux

  15. says

    Couldnt agree more! I/we put so much pressure on ourselves to have it all/be it all. I always try to remind myself of whats important through this quote- you can do anything but you cant do everything

    • MizFit says

      and for me I always add WELL at the end, Erica.

      It’s like when I owned my training studio (OOH SNAP. THIS IS FITNESS AFTERALL :-))

      I never ever trained men.

      I left that to my trainers.

      It wasn’t my gift and I knew if I tried to do it all….train it all I’d do it—–BUT NOT WELL

  16. says

    AMAZING AMAZING POST! I so understand what you are saying & SO AGREE!!! And yes, what it means to one is not what it means to another. Just like for exercise & eating – one size does not fit all, so with life!

    When I was working 60++ hours a week, I definitely did not have it all – in fact I would say so less than all. We have to understand what is important to us & have the courage to live our life that way or as you say – your priorities!

    LOVE!

  17. says

    “I just need to remember work/life harmony will look different for me than it will for another & that’s ok.”

    Exactly. I have my all…and I don’t want anyone else’s. As for balance? I think true balance happens when we’re dead. I wrote a post about balance a while ago. Here’s a bit from it:

    “Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced.” Khalil Gibran

    We’re not meant to stay in one place physically, emotionally, or spiritually. It’s right and natural to be fluctuating at all times. We strive for the goal weight, we strive for peace and calm, we strive for health, we strive for balance.

    But what I take from this is that we’re meant to be off balance, at least slightly, until we’re no longer inhabiting our bodies. And so I embrace the changes in my body, whether my weight is up or down, and strive for “slightly up or down.”

  18. says

    I have what I have chosen for myself at this point in my life. After many years of doing what I thought I “should” be doing, I now focus on doing what I want to do (most of the time). Juggling several part-time jobs, being a mom, and everything else seldom feels like balance… But I do focus on what’s important, and that’s always family, every single day.

  19. says

    I don’t even have kids and still can’t meet every goal every day!

    But, like you, I’ve found there’s huge power in redefining your vision of what “having it all” means. For me, discovering that the “it all” is a happy day filled with things that are meaningful to me was a revelation. Does it matter how much of what thing gets crossed off a list? Not so much! What matters is the joy I have in attending to each thing. If I can maximize that, it’s a great day.

    Wish I’d figured this out in my twenties and not my fifties, ’cause I’m so much happier now!

    Great subject and great post!

  20. says

    I’m still thinking about the semantics of balance vs harmony. I think some people can have both! Or either. But I do think it is doable. And I think that what matters is each person definition of what they want and what constitutes balance/harmony. For some, there are external factors that might make it “impossible” at some point in time, IMO, but I do think the possibility is there for each of us.

  21. says

    Yep. I can have it all. And while some balls are bigger than others on some days (huh?), I am getting better at the juggling act of balance through purposeful practice.

  22. says

    Who can turn the world on with her blog?
    Who can take a lazy slob, and make him want to go for a jog?
    Well it’s YOU, Miz and you should know it.
    All these positive comments should show it.

    Time is all we have, no need to waste it.
    This post was really good, I think you aced it.
    You really have it all after all.
    You really have it all after all!

  23. says

    Oh how I do love this post. I struggle with this daily as I try to find the balance but I think the word “harmony” might just be more fitting. You’re right too about the menfolk, my husband has it just as hard trying to find that work-life balance and it’s been through this journey together we’ve found a mutual respect for each other and the choices we each make. I suppose in that way, we’ve found harmony through teamwork and supporting each others’ choices. Very important to keep the definition fluid and remember that no choice you make is a “final” choice, those can change too. This was important for me to learn as of late. Of course I wish the results of your findings were different than I hoped (ha!) but I had long suspected perfect balance was impossible. It makes me feel better to know that it’s not just me. Have a great Monday girl, thanks for the post.

  24. Harriet says

    I love the pictures.
    I’d say I’m pretty balanced these days, but I only have furkids :0

  25. says

    (big sigh) most days I feel like all my balls fall to the ground with a big screaming, crying, crash.

    Today, I will focus on trying to keep one of those in the air. Thanks for the reminder to keep priorities in order! :)

  26. says

    I switch on my computer (late-dang u daylight savings) to this amazing post- my little one already up and raring to go, with projects that need to be finished looming (what was I thinking over spring break) and I find your affirmation of exactly what I was thinking… you can’t have it all…at the same time. Except you added the most beautiful part… we DO have it all. And the computer will wait, but they’re are going to keep growing. xoxo

  27. Bea says

    I think my problem is wanting someone else’s all and thinking it’s better than mine. The grass is greener struggle.

  28. says

    really, REALLY beautiful!

    The balance vs harmony distinction – well – brilliant!

    I could go on and on about this… so many choices along the way – all with a consequence – one way or another.

    For the most part, I am in a good place. The spawn is gone, and I have little regret about how I spent my ridiculously harried-busy-frantic days. If I do have a regret, it would be that I wasn’t calmer in the process…

    Now we get to figure out this new harmony – new chapter w HIM, adult spawn, new interest in business, HEALTH, and yes, some sort of soul medicine.

    I heard someone say once that happiness is wanting what you have and being comfortable in your skin. Not sure how it fits here, but I think it does :) xoxo

  29. Miz says

    I’ve been mulling that line all morning too Kris!!
    It is simply about wanting what you have.

  30. says

    I have not found a balance that works for me. Everyday its a new experiment to see how well I can try to “juggle” it (as you say). I love the harmony outlook. Making it all work for what’s right for you. I’m still on a quest. You’re my insipration lady! :)

  31. says

    I think the definition of what “all” is – is so personal. If we try to have someone else’s “all” we can become frustrated and feel like failures. For me a laid-back approach to life and work is who I am from my life on Maui, but others might see it as unambitious. The pics of you and your family makes me see you as having it all. ALL the important things in life. Really, the other stuff doesn’t matter in the end.

  32. says

    I think you nailed it. “All” is very individual. Fluidity is KEY! I feel like I have it all, but that’s my all–I don’t have the full-time, bad-ass career that other women have. But I don’t want that either. I want my many balls in the air lifestyle that allows me a piece of everything that’s important to ME. Glad you have found your all as well!

  33. says

    You nailed it.
    My crazy pace the last few years has shown me that. And what really matters to me. To be fluid is the key.
    I have seen the crazy pace of the elite scientist and although there is joy in the discovery and hard work and collaboration and makingpeople’s lives better, there is also home and laughter and love and light and if I cannot have the latter, I simply do no want the former. Trying to have both makes me crazy.

    Having it “all” now simply means to me that I am happy. :)

  34. says

    You are so awesome! I can totally relate with the juggling! I am a terrible juggler (IRL) and all of life’s responsibilities cause me to juggle more ‘balls’ then I am conditioned to. However, I keep picking up the dropped balls and try again. OR I toss the unimportant balls in the hoop and move on. THank you for this great reminder this morning :)

  35. says

    All I know is that when I throw a real job into the mix, other things slide. I’m thankful that I don’t do that too often, because I enjoy my mostly less-hectic life. But, when I was raising my kids? Forget it – hectic was unfortunately too often the name of the game. It gets better.

  36. says

    Oh how I needed to read this!! I do agree, that you can have ‘it all’ and have ‘harmony’ but that definition will consistently morph as your life does. And on an almost daily basis!!

    It’s been hard for me in the engineering field to find balance. With the possibility of evil-step-motherdom on the horizon (I’m not really planning to be evil…although I do have a mole that could pass for a wart…), and new job status and all kinds of other awesome things, I’ve been fearful of losing it all in an attempt to gain it all.

    I have been looking to amazing women like you to ‘model’ myself after. And I’m proud to say that I’m probably a mix of EVERY single woman I’ve ever known, with a bit of unique old Brandi right there at the core.

    Thanks for sharing this! It is nice to know even amazing Mizfits like you have these kinds of fears and wonderments!

  37. says

    I am 100% with you on this. It will most likely never be balanced for me, and I am finally okay with that. Harmony? I’m getting close. And I have decided that good enough really is, good enough. Thank you for this – it’s awesome.

  38. Sam says

    I do not “have it all” by society’s standards, but after many years of living by society’s standards, I stepped back and decided to live the way that makesme happy (much less work, more family/me time – to h-ll with what others may think. It is not always easy, but I am so much happier.

  39. says

    I love this. Great reminder!

    Working in a job I dislike with constant stress has reminded me that I don’t have to “have it all” and really–somethings just DON’T MATTER. Period. My job is a paycheck. The rest of my life outside of work is what matters!

  40. Amanda says

    I do feel as though I have it all, but after reading this I guess I have it all in the way I need it.

  41. says

    Great analogy – that’s exactly how I feel. I juggle the three balls of full(plus) time work, training-racing-heathlystuffs, and my need for time to decompress/relax/recharge from the first two. Without allowing for that third one, I have mental breakdowns and become a majorly unhappy person to be around, and both of the first two come crashing down while I attend to a poor, broken, barely functioning me.

    You can have it all – if what you want is reasonable! :)

  42. says

    I do think you can have it all but you certainly wont be doing everything to the best of your ability. Something will be scrimped. Far better to concentrate on doing your priorities to the best of your ability than trying to spread yourself too thin.

    And of course just because you CAN do something, doesn’t mean you must say YES to doing to.

  43. says

    LOVE this post. Life is all about juggling, prioritizing, and defining what “having it all” means to me at any given stage in my life. In my experience, “having it all” has absolutely changed as I life evolved, but also other people’s “all” may not be best for me (and it’s take me into my 40′s to figure that one out). When I was younger “having it all” meant a corner office and man and kids. (pretty stereotypical, and why I wanted that, I’m not sure…) Well, life moved on, I made some choices, choices were made for me through circumstance, I never got the corner office (the corner partition though!), It took me WAY longer to meet my husband than I would have imagined (I sure met some “Mr. Wrongs” along the way -thank goodness I didn’t settle), and the gods of having kids didn’t shine down on me before I chose NOT to have them at all. Through all of that, I juggled life, and tried to define what having it all meant, and forgiving myself when I didn’t “get it all” when I thought I would. As I’ve grown older, I think I DO have it all. I’m healthy, I have a family and friends who love and support me, I am gainfully employed which gives me money to live and a bit extra to enjoy things I love), I have a roof over my head, interests, and time to “play”. I also have stresses, which adds to having it all..that is part of life. I guess it’s a big thing when we can go from “having it all” to ‘having enough” to fulfil us and make us happy. This comment has rambled on far too long…sorry! Love you Miz, have a great day, and thanks for your wonderful posts.

  44. says

    I think it can come down to semantics. I have all I really need to be content if I stop and think about it. The pendulum does swing, though, and there are times when work suffers for family and family suffers for work, but you do the best you can and appreciate what you should.

  45. says

    What is “all”? Is it ALL we want to have? Or all we think we should have?

    I’d like to think that I have it all. I certainly don’t have all others think I should have. But I have great kids, an education, volunteer work that I love. The big house? The big car? Jewelry? A high profile job? Don’t want ‘em. Maybe a little house, a little car, and a new medical alert bracelet…

    The problem isn’t that you can’t have it “all”… just in figuring out what “all” is.

  46. says

    I don’t know what I think, except that you just made me cry. ;P

    You’ve given me a lot to think about as I have been trying to figure out just what this “all” is that I think I might want to/not want to have/had.

  47. says

    I can see from all the incredible and thoughtful comments that this struck a chord!
    Well, me too. :-)
    Harmony instead of balance. I can see that now. And having our own individual definition of all.
    This post was beautiful to me… when I saw the pics of your “all”, it was touching, and I see why you concluded that you already have it all.
    For some reason, this post gives me a feeling of peace. :-)

  48. Annie says

    Hi Miz,
    I have missed posts like this lately.
    I read this early in the morning and am back to read again and read comments.

    Nicely done.

  49. says

    If we cannot have it all, why not get as close as we can? I would agree “we cannot have it all AT ONCE”. But isn’t life about having to make those little decisions that can have a big impact?
    How do you juggle family and work? Do you save for the rainy day, or splash out on the beach? Run on the treadmill or walk the dogs? The secret is not to try the impossible – you can’t balance everything with equal time. It’s about choosing your priorities and getting them completed.
    Not an easy task, for sure, but the rewards for success are worth the challenge.

  50. says

    Thank you .. I’m printing this out to remind me during those times when I’m feeling a bit crazy and out of balance x

  51. says

    This post was for me, right? Oh. My. Lately I can’t keep all the plates spinning. I’ve had to step back and look at what is really important. I guarantee I won’t reach the end of my life and wish I’d had a higher klout score ;)

  52. says

    I like that commercial slogan “I want it all and I want it now” because I do but, realistically, I know that I can’t – although I do feel like I come pretty close to having a whole lot of what I want on a regular basis…

    I think you hit the nail on the head when you wrote:
    “I just need to remember work/life harmony will look different for me than it will for another & that’s ok.”

    Love the Tornado’s eye mask…

  53. says

    I don’t think it exists and teeters as it totters… or putting out one flame only to start another. its something us women (and men) will always try to obtain.

    I think when you finally make the decision you can’t have it all, you can make the happiness of one thing better by focusing on it more. ;)

  54. says

    So just had this conversation with a friend the other day. We both said that ‘society’s expectations’ had sold most women down the river when it comes to this “having it all” stuff.
    No way it’s possible and no way it’s worth trying to obtain in the ‘normal’ definition. Your all and my all are different and that’s a GOOD thing. Why would we ALL want to get the same things out of life? Boring!

  55. says

    My opinion is that if we are humans living our lives, we are never in balance, but every day and every moment we can strive for “better” ballance. We shouldn’t wait for life to be “perfect” to enjoy it, but whenever we have the chance to eliminate something extraneous, we should.

  56. says

    My turnaround point was the year my Dad died and I decided I would try to live every day to the fullest and on most days I succeed. I think I have balance in my life. Work is important but I don’t work late, just my 8 hours a day. If it’s busy I just work harder. I don’t bring work home. Work = work and home = home. I wouldn’t mind having an extra day off and work 4 days a week but I’m not willing to make the financial sacrifice for that.

  57. says

    I’ve never been able to have it all. For me it’s more about what my definition of “success” is and then aligning my daily actions with that. For instance, today I am realizing that “success” means being a good friend and so I’m skipping the gym and opening up my schedule (and arms) for her;)

  58. says

    BK (before kids) I was working 60+ hours a week at a consulting firm. I knew I couldn’t keep that up when Alex came home. I was BLESSED to be able to stay with my company, switch jobs and work on a reduced hour schedule. (I work Monday – Wednesday)

    Over the years, I’ve had to turn down opportunities at work because I wasn’t ready or willing to go back to work full time. It’s been HARD!

    I’m now here five years later – opporutnities have come up that have allowed me to continue my career goals and STILL stay part time.

    I have found my harmony – and I’ve never been happier!

  59. says

    Most people find their balance, some more functional, some more dysfunctional.

    Lowering expectations to a place of realism is usually a good plan. Too many people keep looking for the impossible and waste their lives when they could really be quite happy.

  60. says

    Yes. I do think a person can have it all.

    Once I embraced the need to make choices, having all I chose became possible.

    Expectations, priorities, realistic assessments of time available, knowing one’s limits. It is all a part of the mix.

    I can and do have it all.

    And I have zero regrets about what I have chosen not to have along the way.

  61. says

    I think you hit the nail on the head – the only way to have it “ALL” is to redefine all. I have time with my children, time to work out by myself, a job I love, time with my husband – but having that “ALL” took making choices. I choose to work part-time outside of my actual career field so that I can make my job work around my family. My husband chooses to work for an organization that pays less than most for what he does, but he’s home every day before 5. Will this “all” change as our boys grow and need us in different ways? Absolutely. But at this moment in time, we’ve found an all that works for us.

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