Just Because You Can, Doesn’t mean You Should

I recently read a post preaching to women that they can be great career women and great moms. Women empowerment seminars encourage women not to be afraid to lean in and become leaders in their industries. Furthermore, those women should certainly never feel guilty about time sacrificed with their family because it’s all about creating balance. You can do this AND do that — you can do it all.

I happen to agree. In fact, I teach that you can “be there even when you’re not;” I give men and women permission to live a life that is true to them while still maintaining special relationships with the important people in their lives. I don’t believe you have to sacrifice your career for your children. You have a duty and responsibility to love them, nurture them, and be there for them — but that responsibility doesn’t have to rise to the standard of sacrificing your sanity, livelihood or happiness.

However, I have started to see a shift that I don’t think people are really talking about. As the world has moved toward encouraging women to reach the pinnacle of their success, to step up to the plate and claim a seat at the table — it has also created an unintended mindset shift: that they should be doing that. 

The question I have is: when did it stop being about having a choice?

Choices are critical.

Every decision you make comes with a sacrifice. When you choose to be a career woman and a wife and mom — when you choose to be the woman who does this and that — that life comes with a price. Likewise, if you choose to give up your career to be home with your family, that also comes with a price. 

Only you can decide which price tag gives you the most bang for your buck. Only you know when the cost of the life you’ve chosen is just too high. 

Some women don’t want to pay the price of “having it all.” The struggle and the juggling that comes with it isn’t worth it to them. Their value system and priorities do not align with that lifestyle. Those women need to know there is nothing wrong with that; There is nothing wrong with them; Their roles are still incredibly valuable to society. 

Before I gave birth to my first child, I assumed that when my 3–6 month maternity leave was over, I would just go back to work. After all, I’d become a lawyer for a reason: to practice law. But despite having a job I liked, a degree that took me a lot of time and effort to acquire, and student loans to pay, the moment I held my baby in my arms, going back to work became unfathomable. I wanted to be home with my son. The desire to be a professional, to have a career, or to do something other than be with my child washed away from me. I chose not go back to work. And by the way, we couldn’t really “afford” for me to stop working at the time. Losing an income came with consequences and sacrifice. But I did it. I remember people suggesting that it was a shame I’d worked so hard for a career that I was not going to pursue. It was then that I changed my mind about why I’d gone to law school. 

Whenever I was confronted by a comment like that, I’d smile and say: “I didn’t go to law school to practice law … I went to law school to have the choice to practice law.” 

Just like that yearning to stay home with my child creeped up on me, so did a longing to work again. And yet that longing for work looked different after having children. I wanted to work enough to feel engaged in some kind of adult community, enough to get out of the house once in a while, and enough to enjoy the extra income. However, I didn’t want my work to determine whether I could go to my son’s Easter egg hunts or stay home with him if he were sick. The truth is I wanted to be a mom more than a career woman.

Three kids and eleven years later, I can say that I’ve danced the line between stay-at-home mom and working mom. My choices have changed throughout the years depending on the stage of life I’ve been in.  I’ve had professional successes and personal successes. Is there more I want to do with my life? Yes. Do I want to have it all? Yes. But I am trudging along at my own pace based on my priorities. That pace keeps me feeling fulfilled and guilt-free. 

I want the same for you.

If you want to be a stay at home wife and mom- I support you.

If you want to be a career woman and never have children — I support you.

If you’re a single mom — I support you.

If you want to be entrepreneur of the year and a mom — I support you.

If you want to have a side hustle — I support you.

If you want to work just enough — I support you.

If you’re undecided — I support you.

Do not let social media, society, or anyone make you feel like you’re less than if you’re not pushing and hustling and trying to become a superstar.  Just because you can do it, doesn’t mean you should. You get to decide what your life looks like and what you’re willing to do about it. 

A Moment of Clarity

You will never get this time back, so make sure that you’re not trying to measure your success against someone else’s yardstick. 

A Year of Lessons

If I had to choose a word to describe my 2018, it would be Perspective. 

One event, one experience, one conversation, one moment—no matter how big or small— can alter your life forever. It happened to us exactly one year ago, on New Year’s Eve. 

All we wanted was quality time with the family, a change of scenery, and a few days off from the daily grind. But we got way more than we bargained for. From the very first day, our vacation took on a life of its own with experiences, coincidences, and fun stories to remember that we couldn’t have predicted or planned for. A voice in my head kept telling me, Pay attention, there are lessons for you here. 

It was a spiral of awesomeness, until it wasn’t.

We were driving up to Black Mountain to spend the night with our friends, Analin, Chris and their family, at their cabin. It had begun snowing unexpectedly and a thin layer of black ice covered the roads. In a split second, our tires skidded and we fishtailed toward the edge of a cliff with no barrier to protect us. I closed my eyes and braced myself having no control over what was going to happen to my family. 

But luckily for us, the story didn’t end there.  The car stopped short of falling over the edge and our lives were spared. One of our sons had a broken ankle, it was pitch black, snowing and we had no cell phone service or GPS. After many hours, we had to abandon our car and hike up two and half miles up the mountain with our nine, seven, and four-year-old boys. 

 The events leading up to the moment we were at the edge of the cliff, and the steps we had to take to get to safety, taught me that every experience trains you for the next one.  It felt like life had been offering clues along the way, preparing us for this very moment. 

And then it hit me.  We are always receiving clues and the Universe is always preparing to overcome any obstacle that life throws at us. 

 I’ve spent 2018 processing all that I’ve learned about leadership, resilience, relationships and spirituality. I hope to spend 2019 sharing those lessons learned. 

Now, what if you had to choose one word to describe your year. What would it be? 

Maybe this is the year you got married, had a baby, or started your own business. Or the year you lost a loved one. Maybe it’s the year you accomplished a bucket list item or remodeled your home. Maybe the year was uneventful and the days blended together so much that you barely remember what happened. 

Whether 2018 was good or bad—whether your “word” pops out at you or is so subtle you haven’t caught it— know that life is giving you the tools you need to do more. It’s preparing you so that you can be stronger, live fuller, and find your purpose. You are in training, friend. All you have to do is choose to look at it that way. 

As we wrap up 2018, I leave you with my last moment of clarity of the year. 

A Moment of Clarity

 You are always in training for what’s coming next.  Pay attention…there are lessons for you here. 

Why Do You Exist?

Have you ever heard the saying, “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life?”  Although on the surface that quote rings true and profound, I consider it to be problematic. First, it suggests that working is bad. It‘s easy to regard work with negativity, but to work is simply to exert physical or mental effort to produce a desired result. Anything worth having in life requires work… even relationships.

But the biggest reason this quote nags at me is because it gives us the illusion that our passions should be our careers when it isn’t always practical or possible. Maybe your passion doesn’t make for a prosperous business or your financial or life circumstances don’t allow you to pursue it. You can have passions that aren’t your job or your career and they don’t have to pay your bills.

Likewise, you can enjoy your work even when it‘s not “what you love.”

Even when you are lucky enough to do what you love for a living, there are plenty of things you will have to do (invoicing, accounting, scheduling, etc.) that you don’t like or enjoy. There is always boring and tedious work in every business, no matter how much you love your job.

The other day a friend of my dad’s posted a picture on Facebook of them together shortly before my dad died. In the comments he wrote that he wanted to live like my dad did because he lived and died knowing why he existed.

Knowing why he existed. That phrase struck me.

Indeed, my dad always had a clear purpose—to study and teach human behavior and personal development—and he devoted his life to that. That purpose fueled his speaking and writing career. But even when my dad had a regular job at Xerox and Cargill, he studied and taught human behavior on nights and weekends. He used his skills in the job he had. He lived and breathed those principles long before he got paid to talk about them.

Do you know why you exist? What moves you? What brings you joy? What inspires you? What do you think you were put on this Earth for?

Do it!

I have a friend who loves to act. He may have dreamed of performing on Broadway, but his life circumstances kept him in Miami. Instead, he works as an IT professional and stars in community-theater in his spare time. He has taken part in more plays than we can count and is now producing them too. Maybe he’ll own a theater one day or work in the field full-time — but even if he doesn’t, he still does what he loves.

A girlfriend of mine is a stay-at-home mom. One day in conversation she said, “I was born to be a mom. There is nothing else in the world I’d rather do.” Parenting is her purpose.

You might exist to bring joy, laughter or inspiration to the world; Or to be an entrepreneur; or to love animals; or to play an instrument; or to be an athlete; or to do a little bit of a lot of things. Share your gifts in any capacity you can.  Whether you do it after work, while you work, or make it your work doesn’t matter as much as it does that you seek to find your purpose. The real tragedy would be for you not to enjoy your passions or fulfill your purpose, just because they aren’t your profession.

A Moment of Clarity

Don’t worry about not having to work a day in your life.  Instead, know why you’re here and commit to living your truth no matter what. You can do what you love and work.