Figuring out what “having it all” means to you

What does "having it all" mean to you? Get some advice from a career coach to lead you down the path of figuring it all out. #careeradvice

For Women Trying to Have It All – Figuring out work life balance and what you want to be when you grow up

If there is one phrase mothers across America are SO done with it’s “Can I have another snack?”

If there are TWO phrases mothers across America are SO done with the other one would be “having it all.”

What Does That Even Mean?

I’ve struggled with this concept since my son Jack was born. How could I “have it all” as a mother and a professional? And were those the only two things I was supposed to worry about? What about my marriage, friendships, health, and outside interests? If I managed to make many of the things work but not all of the things, would that be enough?

Yet this challenge often overshadows the underlying issue. What if we are so busy with trying to have it all, or thinking that we should have it all, or trying to do it all, that we don’t take a pause to figure out if the “all” we are striving towards is what we really want? What do you really want to be when you grow up?

Putting on My Career Hat

I’m taking us down a very self-reflective path here. That’s on purpose because I’ve spent a lot of time on this blog talking about people I love, and nonsense I love, and cracking jokes about 90s boy bands. But there’s big part of my “all” that includes a decade of experience in the higher education industry with seven years in career and professional development at Harvard Business School. This self-reflective stuff is my professional jam, if you will. And it’s time for my parenting humor side and professional side to have a jam sesh.

Recently I was in a training at work that discussed life stages and various aspects of adult development. Throughout the training I laughed, I learned, I sobbed uncontrollably – pretty average day at work. Perhaps the biggest takeaway was reflecting on Daniel Levinson’s research on stages of adulthood – specifically the Age 30 Transition (ages 28-33) and the Settling Down Stage (ages 33-40).

Leading up to these life stages, young adults have spent a considerable amount of time exploring career paths, pursuing relationships, and making moves to build out a vision for their lives. They are discovering and goal setting and achieving like woah.

Then for many there comes a turning point.

Woah, What Just Happened?

Perhaps the turning point is marriage, having kids, or a promotion that sets you on a clear career trajectory. Things start moving. Fast! Ferris Bueller style fast. You have responsibilities with a capital R. As a result, reflection and deep evaluation of your goals take a back seat. And they sit quietly back there. They don’t need juice or toys or anything! So considerate.

Let’s focus in on parents of young kids in particular for a moment. During this stage you’re spreading yourself too thin, making everyone else in your life the top priority, vomiting in your mouth every time the daycare bill comes in, cleaning up other people’s vomit, and eating a lot of frozen pizza and microwaved vegetables.

Hard to keep your head above water let alone deeply reflect eh?

You’re doing it all. How can you be expected to evaluate your all and define your goals? Haven’t you already achieved some pretty big goals already? What more do you want from me, self!?

Defining It All Through Career & Life Criteria

I know it’s overwhelming, because (raises hand to the sky) I’ve been there.

But, I’ve also been quite fortunate because for this working/blogging mama of two, my “all” also includes being surrounded by experienced career coaches who have helped me learn to develop my career and life criteria. And to coach others to do the same.

What career and life criteria boil down to is figuring out the really important stuff that gives you energy and happiness and meets your emotional, intellectual, and financial needs. Your criteria can change over time but they are also rooted in your values so they are real and powerful and doggone crucial to how you define success. They are how you define “having it all.”

Help Me, Help You

The career and professional development work I do with MBA students, most within the 28-33 life stage, is incredibly rewarding because they are all at an inflection point in their lives. I want to do more of that work, with you. 

Readers of this blog (hi guys!) are quick witted, passionate, and smart. And I’ve found from conversations that you’re eager to talk about how life intersects with work. In addition to ridiculous stories about toddlers and elliptical machines, of course. That’s not going anywhere.

This new project connecting my work and life interests is part of how I’m redefining my “all.” More on how this is all going to play out coming soon – but just know that I do think laughter, parenting, and careers really do go together. Like a peanut butter, honey, and banana sandwich, if you will.

Making You an Offer You Can’t Refuse

So did I strike a cord? Are you thinking about what your “all” really is? And how in the heck you’re going to get there? And if it’s okay for your “all” to be totally different from anyone else’s AND to change over time?

If so I’d love to send you one of my favorite career development exercises. This version of the 100 Job Exercise, adapted from Dr. Tim Butler’s book Getting Unstuck (which is an amazing read by the way) gets you thinking about your deep-seated interests and how they can translate into a rewarding life and career. Big thanks to Harvard Business Publishing for the permission to share this with you!

Ugh, seriously guys, I love this stuff so much. Thanks as always for reading. I’m really looking forward to careering with you!

With my career hat on at a jaunty angle,

Funny mom, career coach, storytelling enthusiast
What does "having it all" mean to you as a mom? Is it being a working mom? A stay at home mom? Finding the elusive balance? We are bombarded with this concept, but how often do we try to figure out what our "all" really is? Come reflect on this concept, and find a career development exercise to explore how your interests help you define what your "all" really is. #workingmoms #sahmoms #careerdevelopment #careeradvice #careercoaching
What does "having it all" mean to you as a mom? Is it being a working mom? A stay at home mom? Finding the elusive balance? We are bombarded with this concept, but how often do we try to figure out what our "all" really is? Come reflect on this concept, and find a career development exercise to explore how your interests help you define what your "all" really is. #workingmoms #sahmoms #careerdevelopment #careeradvice #careercoaching
Printable career development exercise. Define what having it all means to you in career and life. Use this printable for your career planning. #careeradvice #career #careerplanning #careerdevelopment

Digging the career stuff? Head here for more career development posts on everything from the networking, resumes/cover letters, interview skills, and creative thinking.

17 Replies to “Figuring out what “having it all” means to you”

  • Beautiful to read that you love what you do, that is so important! At 50 years old, I have been reflecting on what my ‘all’ consists of and I am excited for all the possibilities in my future. At any age, if we follow our heart, we can and will make our goals and dreams happen.

  • Great post! I think I’m just now finding my passion after years of being in a different career. I taught elementary for 10 years and then when my second child was born took time off to be a stay at home mom. For the first year or so I focused just on that, and then money got tight so I searched for ventures I could do from home. I started a blog and have been hard at work at it for almost four months now!

    • Isn’t it awesome when something clicks! It’s all about giving ourselves permission to swivel in our careers and evaluate what our real drivers are. I’ll be including some stuff on blogging on here as well so I hope you’ll come back. 🙂

  • You hit the nail on the head when you asked if the all we were striving toward was really what we wanted. Before I had kids, I didn’t want any. I had an internship lined up with NASA and I was working toward my master’s degree in biomedical engineering. Instead, I got married, had two kids so fast my head spun, and here I am eight kids later. And now I’m a blogger/homeschooler/farmer. I wouldn’t change a thing!

    • What a great story! So awesome that you created a life that you love and didn’t let the “but this is what I said I wanted…” get in the way. We are allowed to change and re-evaluate.

  • I’ve noticed I’m being more aware of my surroundings as I am getting older. I try to celebrate every win, no matter the size. I know I am on the right path because I just quit my job to take my business coaching full-time. I would not change it for the world even though I never expected this life for me. Funny how that works out, huh!?

    • That’s fantastic, Sophie! I hope it’s going well. The best things happen when we continue to reflect on what is most important and exciting to us at various stages of our lives.

  • I’ve been out of the traditional work industry for 10 years now. I’ve done freelance work since then, but I’m not sure how that will look on a resume. I’m hoping to reenter the work force next year when both kids are in school, but I’m terrified of restarting again! I look forward to following along with this, even though I’m not currently a professional.

    • All about highlighting transferrable skills and telling your story! And lady, you’re a story teller. You’ve got this. Follow along here but also email me if you want to talk it out. Check out 100 jobs too – it is super useful even if you think you know what you want to do.

  • Great article! I agree, it’s super important to figure out what “having it all” means to each of us. For me personally it’s difficult to have a successful career and dedicate time to my kids. At times I feel very conflicted and I constantly change my mind about what I want. Lots of food for thought here!

    • It’s so complicated! And I think incredibly natural to feel conflicted because our feelings on the matter will change. But it’s just important to acknowledge those feelings and lean into them. This is what having it all means to me right now and here’s how I am going to go about doing that. In a year, it could look very different.

  • This is 100% true – having it all is subjective as it should be! And no one person should define it for anyone else – and I hate that women feel the need to put a definitive definition and criteria on what exactly this is. Thanks for sharing

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *