PSA: “Doing It All” is a Sham

I went to a conference on Thursday that was focused on women in leadership.  They had different backgrounds, both professionally and personally.  These women were passionate, driven, successful in their careers, and genuinely enjoyed their work.  Another major commonality among them: They were the breadwinners and had a stay-at-home husband, or they were single/divorced.  There wasn’t much gray area when it came to the household.

There is so much pressure to do everything, be everything, have everything.  These successful women talked about how much pressure society places on them to balance everything, and about how much internal pressure they place on themselves.  Each of them struggled deeply throughout their growing career to balance a growing family with growing responsibilities and moving up.  Each of them really ended up at “One partner earns the money, and the other partner manages the household.”

The biggest take-away: Most of their partners put their own growing careers entirely on hold to take care of the kids and manage the home, letting these women soar.  Some relocated a half dozen times, while others managed crazy hours.  After their family tried to manage everything with two working parents, they found that it wasn’t feasible for living their best life.  Kids got sick at the most inconvenient times, house chores ran amok, groceries went unpurchased, dinner was left uncooked... if both partners worked, the only way to keep on top of everything was to hire out tasks.  Ruthless prioritization is always required, even with one partner staying home. 

For people who try to do it all, what is the real cost?

When the speakers were trying to balance the work, the kids, the house, and the relationship, something had to give.  It was either divorce or an unfulfilling marriage, neglected children, a disaster of a house, hiring out of tasks and chores, or a career cap.  They were not able to live their best lives, and they and their partners were extremely unhappy.  Each of the speakers was adamant that prioritization was key to their success.

So what does all this mean for my partner and I as we are starting our lives together?

When I look at my career goals, I aspire to raise in the ranks like these women.  I strive to be like them.  This led to an honest conversation with my partner, who is completely on board in support of my goals, and who is happy to take a back seat later for me to succeed.  He enjoys his job, and enjoys working, but not in the same way I do.  He is happy either way.  Partnership for the win!