Part 2: What Does Having It All Mean to You?

September 25, 2014Yesterday we heard from our very own Krista Brookman, Vice President, Inclusive Leadership Initiative, Catalyst, about what “having it all” means to her.

Below, in part two of this series on “having it all,” we hear from some of Krista’s colleagues, friends, and relatives. Tune in tomorrow for our last installment in this series!


Having it all is very individual experience

“Everyone needs to define what ‘all’ is. For me and my husband, it has been fulfilling careers, family, fitness, and some charitable work.”  
Jody, Founding and Managing Director, Marketing and Communications

Having it all is the gift of children

“The constant in my life has and always will be my children. So for me, ‘having it all’ has been having my children, to watch from the moment they were born to see them grow and be successful and have happy families of their own.” 
Donna, Executive Assistant (and my mom!)

Having it all is measured over a lifetime

“I believe you can have it all, just not all at once. There were years, especially when our kids were small, where we did not accelerate our careers but just maintained.”  
Name withheld

Having it all means accepting that you’re not superhuman

“If we want the best talent at work, we have to improve flexibility for everyone, not just parents, and certainly not just moms. And if we want healthy kids and families, we have to stop pretending that someone making minimum wage or thereabouts should be able to magically find (even with subsidies) quality, nurturing child care, or that moms are the only ones who can provide that care, or that it’s a professional sin to prioritize your family life.”
Amy, President and CEO, Nonprofit

Having it all means accepting what you have

“We live in a world of need. The need to have the fanciest car, the biggest house... Hell, we're even competitive about where we do our grocery shopping. We live in a world where we constantly covet what others have. Well, I think it means balance and happiness. And if you can look at your life, at the choices you've made... if you can truly say you are legitimately, beyond-the-question-of-a-doubt happy, and that you don't covet what you don't have...Then, yes, you have it all.”  
Christine, SAHM and part-time nurse

Having it all means expanding roles

I have had to outsource a great deal of the early child rearing and home care. Just after our girls were born, our start-up was funded and we started the herculean task of creating something from nothing. I was less afraid of the chaos of startuplandia than I was of motherhood. No one dies in startuplandia, even if you are a complete flop as a leader. So during the early years, I kept insane hours doing everything I could to keep our startup alive, and left the real babies to the work of the professionals. We've had two nannies since our two girls were very young. In addition, my husband plays the lead home role. For me, it's been about hard choices, expanded roles, and adaptive strategies.”
Kelly, Serial Entrepreneur, Technology

Having it all means making the most of the time you have

“Many in our society do not provide time for true self refection. Time has become the most precious resource many of us have. And how we spend it affects our health. Many think more time will bring happiness. They try to put 10 pounds of potatoes into a five-pound bag. How much volume one can successfully put into one’s life, and get things done as one would like to see them done, varies from person to person. Some are natural leaders and can successfully leverage off of others. Others are more inclined to want to be more intimately involved with either their businesses or their families. I say we redefine what ‘having it all’ means. To me it means engaging, committing, and adding value while maintaining breathing room for oneself. It means being content and having the joy of knowing you have led a life of significance.”
Linda, Strategic Advisor, Mergers & Acquisitions

Trying to have it all causes conflict

“I struggle on a daily basis to find the right combination of career and family. I know that some would say that I should feel fortunate to have this dilemma…the fact that I struggle with this ‘choice’ indicates that I have opportunities that many don’t have. Also, it indicates that our family has the financial means to allow me these choices. That said, I don’t feel lucky…I feel conflicted. At this point in my life, it feels like my opportunities contradict my basic responsibilities to my children, and although I have an extremely supportive husband, the bottom line is…I want to raise my boys!” 
Jodi, Senior Manager, Professional Services

Having it all means making choices

“‘All’ is different for everybody and changes during one’s life/career. What was important to me at 21 is very different than what is important to me at 45, and I assume will be different than when I am 60. What has remained consistent are some core principles—maintaining a healthy lifestyle, living within my financial means, appreciating the time spent with family/friends, and maintaining a certain level of satisfaction from my work/community involvement choices. Is it easy? No, but it’s not impossible, either. Discipline and deliberate calendar management help, along with the ability to say ‘no’ to things that aren’t important or for which I am not providing value beyond what could be provided by somebody else. It’s about choices. It’s easy to blame others when things aren’t what you want them to be so take ownership and make good choices. Doing so sometimes requires change.” 
Chris, Partner, Accounting Firm

What do you think? What does having it all mean to you?



The views expressed herein are solely those of the guest blogger and do not necessarily reflect those of Catalyst. Catalyst does not endorse any political candidates. The post and the comments are presented only for the purpose of informing the public.