For some years now, it feels like women have been led to believe they can have it all – you know: a fulfilling career, children, a supportive relationship, and ultimately the holy grail of 360° fulfillment. I have to admit though – recently I have been skeptical of the idea that women can really have it all, compounded by the fact that earlier in the year former Editor in Chief of Vogue Magazine Alexandra Shulman ate her words and fessed up to the fact that women can’t have it all after all. Major uh oh.
So where does this leave us now? Can women really have it all? Or can’t we? To get to the bottom of it all, I have Charlotte Rogerson – life, career and confidence coach – to lay it down straight for us:
Do you agree with the former Editor in Chief of Vogue Magazine’s admission that in fact “women can’t have it all”?
I love this question. The first thing women need to decide on is what ‘having it all’ means to them as individuals. We all have different beliefs and values around what’s important to us.
I can totally empathise with why she made that statement but it makes me incredibly sad when such a negative blanket statement gets put out to womankind. As editor of a leading fashion magazine and a single mother, I’m sure she felt enormous pressure but ultimately, I do believe women CAN have it all. I am not saying it’s easy or you don’t have to work hard to get the balance BUT if you’re living in your passion, whatever that may be, you can have it all.
In Alexandra’s statement, she said she ‘will now look forward to a different future’. Perhaps she is trying to find a way of having it all that does work for her because I do believe it is possible.
I like to put it a different way: you can have it all, you just can’t DO it all by yourself. Don’t feel you can’t ask for help and support.
Some people say that women thinking we can have it all is creating impossible standards for womankind – what are your thoughts on that?
I believe there is a perception placed on us by society of what having it all means. It’s not all about high-powered, work-all-hours careers that earn six-figure plus salaries. It’s about balance, doing what you love and being in control of your career.
For me, having it all means being able to work flexibly around my children. I get to choose my hours, I work as much or as little as I like and I can be around for my children. It also means that I can look after myself by hitting the gym during the day or deciding to take an hour at 11am to have a coffee and read a couple of chapters of my book. I am in control.
Having it all means having choices. I don’t think a woman having choices is creating an impossible standard, it’s a necessity.
So how can women have professional fulfillment, be mothers, and be happy?
It starts with passion.
More often than not, we go back to the careers we had pre-children and it doesn’t have the same appeal to us. We aren’t in love with our jobs. We have long commutes, we feel torn between the office and home and we very rarely have time to ourselves. It’s stressful and we live a mediocre existence.
We have it drummed into us that we need to have skills. While skills are great to have, our strengths are often forgotten. Things like listening to people, being intuitive, helping others all tend to fall by the wayside and these strengths can create amazing careers. Or perhaps you are really creative but have been told in the past it will never make you any money so you went and got a ‘proper job’.
If we find out what our passion truly is, we can start to build a career around it. In this modern day and age, we have the whole world at our fingertips which makes it so much easier to build your own career.
If you’re living in your passion, you’re happy. If you’re happy, your children are happy. Happy parent = happy kids.
You still need to get your work/life balance right but I know I would rather find the balance being happy in my passion than trying to achieve balance for my family in a job I resented or just pays the bills.
And what is getting in our way of having it all?
More often than not, it’s our own mindset.
We feed ourselves negative stories on why we can’t have it and we believe it. I’m calling that out, right here, right now.
You absolutely can have it all.
If you work on your mindset to think positively about yourself, you can achieve whatever you set out to do but you need to start believing in YOU. I’m not saying if you believe in yourself, it will all happen for you. You have to put the work in too but by opening up your mind to a positive way of thinking and functioning from a place of knowing you can do it, it is possible to live all your dreams.
Is having it all the same for everyone? Whatever happened to motherhood being a great enough achievement in itself?
No, it isn’t the same for everyone and that’s why the first step is to figure out what having it all means to you and own it, guilt-free.
Motherhood is the most amazing achievement and I’m in no way saying that if your calling is to be a mother, that isn’t enough. It absolutely is. Go and ROCK that motherhood title and I take my hat off to you. Being a mother is a challenging job and I often say that work is my break from the kids. It isn’t easy being a full-time mum and it takes a lot of hard work and patience.
However, I do think the majority of us have our children much later now. We have had 10+ years of building a career. We have created a work version of ourselves and I know I missed it after the first year of having my daughter. I didn’t miss the work I was doing but I missed who I was when I was working.
It used to be to a perception that men went out to work and women stayed at home with the children but perhaps women did feel frustrated years ago, they simply didn’t have the same opportunities as we have now.
What are your five top tips for having it all?
- Connect with yourself and find out who you truly are.
2. Gain clarity on what having it all means to you.
3. Engage a positive mindset to build confidence and believe in yourself.
4. Ask for help – from a partner, family member or an outsider. You don’t have to DO it all to HAVE it all.
5. Self-care – you must look after yourself to be the best version of you.
Anything else you’d like to add?
It isn’t a race; you can go as quickly or as slowly as YOU need to. Some people dive right in and others will set up a side-line business alongside their job. We are all different and you need to concentrate on what’s right for you.
Also, be kind to yourself and be kind to each other. We need to support each other and recognise that we are all in this together – empowered women, empower women.
If you would like to learn more about what having it all means to you, please download my FREE workbook here. It’s a great place to start.
Charlotte is a life, career and confidence coach working primarily with mums who want to discover their dream business/career. She helps them reconnect with who they truly are, gain clarity on what they genuinely want to do and works with them to improve their confidence and mindset to achieve what they desire by living authentically. For more information see her website here and connect on Facebook and Instagram.
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