You Cannot Have It All

One of the greatest lies being told in the world today is that women can “have it all.”

I see self-help gurus, personal development leaders and spiritual teachers spew this shit all the time. It’s a way for us to feel like we’re fucking it up, ALL. THE. TIME. If we could just keep our houses better organized, if we had better systems for this that or the other, if we could just BE BETTER HUMANS, we’d have this life thing handled.

This promise that there is a “there” there, that this panacea of a Balanced Life actually exists, has sold millions of books, magazines and coaching programs—and kept a multi-million-dollar self-help industry afloat.

Part of the strategy is that if there continues to be a promise, and it continues to be elusive, you’ll continue to seek it, and buy more products in search of it.

I call bullshit.

The cold hard truth is that we simply cannot have it all.

As adults, as parents, as mothers, we make hard choices every single day.

Sometimes the choice is, “Do I take a shower, or get another 20 minutes of work in today?”
Sometimes the choice is, “Do I move to the more expensive house in the better school district?”
Sometimes the choice is, “Do I go to grad school while working two jobs, stay up all night, and barely see my kids, so that eventually I can give them a better, more secure life?”

The fact is, sometimes we actually do have to make choices, and they might be really hard ones, but when we do the work to uncover the deeper impacts, the choice can feel less guilt inducing and more empowering. Moreover, knowing that things actually do have to shift, and releasing the idea that you can do it all like some overblown superhero walking a death-defying tightrope, should help the weight of the world come tumbling off your shoulders.

Here are eight reasons I believe “Balance” is bullshit.

  1. “Balance” is an ever elusive thing that you are being tricked by the multi-million dollar self-help industry into believing you can capture -- if you only buy this book or that program.
  2. “Balance” is what feels right inside you, not how much others claim you should be able to do in one lifetime.
  3. You cannot have it all. You really can’t. That should give you relief, not despair.
  4. “Balance” comes from living your life intentionally and with passion, not by trying to be all things to all people, least of all to yourself or your children.
  5. Everyone has to give up certain things in order to get other things. (Even Sheryl Sandberg gave up raising her own children in order to “Lean In.”)
  6. Your life is not about perfecting a balancing act that can’t be perfected; it’s about finding and living with great passion and creativity.
  7. Create your own version of success; don’t try to live up to some standard randomly assigned by “them.”
  8. You will always be asked to choose one thing over another; better get used to how to make those decisions now. You know, the ones that work for YOU.

So, take a deep sigh of relief and let go of trying to do it all, all the time.

I absolve you, here and now.

What hard choices are you facing right now? How can you let go of trying to "have it all"?