Having it all?
Having it all (or not having it all) is, in my view, a media obsession that we have been hooked into and fallen for. They tell us that we ‘should’ be able to have it all at the same time telling us it is ‘impossible’ to have it all!
We feel guilty for wanting it, we feel guilty for not achieving it and we feel guilty for thinking that actually we don’t care about it all anymore anyway.
What is ‘having it all’ anyway? Usually it is about including things you love into your life, whilst at the same time struggling to cope with all the things you don’t like.
More often than not, it is having to say yes to things you don’t really want to and not having enough time for the things you really do love.
Sometimes it is a bit more complicated than that. For example - did I want to combine a career and bring up a family? Yes, I did. Did I want one more than the other? In my case yes, the family. Was it easy to be honest with myself, or my employer or my team at the time? Well no, actually it wasn’t. I didn’t want to have a reputation that I put my family first.
When I look back now I realise that was partly because I didn’t have the confidence to be my authentic self and partly because I was just conforming to what I thought was ‘acceptable’ at the time.
If we take away the media obsession with having it all, what is it that we are all really buying into? Happiness, contentment, fulfilment? Assuming that is what we really want then perhaps there is another way, one which is more achievable and empowering.
What are you really passionate about, what really makes you tick? Do some real soul searching and decide. For example, I used to work with someone whose partner loved competing in Iron Man Triathlons. What was his day job? A postman - plenty of walking in the fresh air in all weathers; early start but an early finish which left him with plenty of time to get in some proper training. Was he happy in his work all the time? Well not all the time, but the joy he got from being able to follow his passion outweighed any trials or tribulations that his day job ever caused him.
Obviously it is not that simple for everyone, some of us might need to do some testing out about what really excites us or make us tick, we might have been on the treadmill so long we have forgotten, or due to family or society pressures, got stuck in a rut that never really suited us or made us happy.
That does not mean that you cannot take time out right now to really think that through, and if you have a significant other in your life, then do it together. There is still time, you just need to stop and think.
Once you are clear on your passion, you will get clarity on everything else. Instead of thinking ‘if only I didn’t have to do X or Y, if only, if only’, you can start being more positive, and ask yourself better questions i.e., ‘if this is my passion, and I got to do that as much as possible (bearing in mind I probably still need to eat!), what do I need in my life, where do I need to live, how little or how much do I need to earn?’ etc.
Don’t rush this stage. Really try on your new life, figuratively, then you can move on to making choices.
Sometimes the choices are simple, they are a no brainer, its black or white, you love it or hate it, you want to or you definitely do not.
If you asked me would I like to work with snakes, the answer is no. I don’t need any more information, that is enough for me, the answer is no.
If you ask me would I like to work with Richard Branson, the answer is yes. Do I want to know the salary or where it is based or what I might need to do? Nope, the answer is still yes – in my book that is just too good an opportunity to miss out on.
When you know what really makes you really happy, and are clear about the choices you are faced with, you can be more decisive. Maybe small steps at first, just learning that new language so that your master plan to live abroad will be easier, checking out where else you might live so you have more disposable income, or are in the countryside or city or near the sea – it’s your choice!
So here is the big secret to having it all - know what you are passionate about, get clarity on what that means for you and then choose, choose you, choose your passion!
Passion = clarity = choice!
Trust me it works, now I am much clearer about what makes me happy, I am able to protect my time more and spend it doing the things I love, it gives me the clarity to manage situations more effectively and the determination to make the choices that are right for me. Do I get it right all the time? No of course I don’t, but most of the time I do, and that is partly because the more I practice Passion = clarity = choice, the more my confidence seems to improve so that I do what is right for me.
“I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.” - Steve Jobs