In today's society, there is a pervading pressure to have it all and be it all -- the career, the physical fitness, the hot significant, the angel children, the pristine house, the sense of purpose and certainty in our own skin, the volunteer work, etc.
We are expected to wake up, meditate, get a run in, cook and eat a healthy breakfast consisting of locally grown organic food, get the kids ready for school, watch the news to be well-informed, dress to the nines, work a grueling 12 hour day, somehow be home in time to resume our parent of the year duties, which include preparing a delicious, healthy meal for the kids, helping them with their homework, bathtime, playtime, bedtime, all the while being fully engaged, then clean up the entire house, do dishes and laundry, spend time with our significant other to keep the romance alive, work on our side passions, read a good book, and get 8 hours of sleep. You have just read one of the longest run-on sentences ever created -- I'm tired just thinking about it. What about you?
Here is the second of 5 myths about having it all that we need to dismantle for the sake of our sanity --
2) Having it all is one size fits all.
The two years I spent in the MBA program at Rice University were a revelation to me. I was surrounded by amazingly brilliant people -- all of whom had their own goals for what they wanted to get out the program. Before B School, I had only marched to the beat of my own drum without giving much thought to what others were doing in their careers and their lives. For the first time, I paid attention to what others were doing, what they were going after, what they aspired to do post-graduation. I figured that my classmates were so smart that they knew something I didn't about the world and about career prospecting.
I saw a trend -- people chasing similar job opportunities (primarily Corporate Finance in an oil + gas industry), wanting a similar lifestyle, etc. I realize I am over-generalizing my experience. They can tell you what they want - a six figure salary, partner, kids, house with yard, good credit score, etc. Now there's nothing wrong with wanting this. I'm all about relationships and financial solvency. I just wonder if how much of what they are going after is truly what they want.
Truth: Having it all depends on what "having it all" means to you.
I would argue that most people never stop to think about what they truly want. Perhaps owning a house in the suburbs isn't for you. You'd rather not waste time on mowing the lawn, dealing with the beloved HOA, or dealing with a plumber when you have a leak. Perhaps you'd rather rent or own a condo and focus your funds on traveling. Perhaps you don't want to be a doctor -- you'd rather be a schoolteacher. Maybe you don't want to get married -- you're happy with a Goldie Hawn/Kurt Russell set-up.
Soul Work: Take inventory of what you want.
Set your timer for five minutes and write down everything you are currently aspiring to in all aspects of your life. Perhaps you are gunning for a VP position or you want to get married in the two years but you're currently single. Once your five minutes are up, notice if there are any common themes in what you've written. Group those items together. Once you have them arranged, circle the ones that actually light you up.
Note: Don't judge the results of this exercise. Awareness is the first step in any process of transformation. Observe, but don't judge. Say to yourself, "I am taking the first step in discovering what "having it all" means to me.
You truly do deserve to have it all, whatever having it all means to you. Get clear on what you truly want and let that guide your way. Don't follow your obligations. Follow the beat of your heart.
Your soul is rooting for you and so am I.