For as long as I could remember, I never believed I could have it all.
I really believed that anyone who said they could have it “all,” you know, a happy husband, kids, AND a big career, was either a liar, a faker or a skipper of sleep. And, since I was never going to lie, fake it, skip sleep, or sacrifice my family’s needs, I believed I was never going to be able to have a huge, successful career AND a great home life.
And guess what? I was busy proving this theory true. How, you ask?
Well, whenever a big opportunity came up at work, suddenly, quite out of the blue, I’d start to feel guilty and overly emotional about being a bad mother. I’d get really scared that I was going to ruin my kids if I chose my career over spending the weekend with my children. I even cried to my boss one time, begging her to not send me on an important business trip because I thought my kids needed me. She even almost let me cancel the trip. And, brace yourself, God forbid, TV opportunities came my way, I’d question it and preemptive worry that I’d never be able to do a TV show and be there for my family.
Now, keep in mind, my husband was home a lot, we didn’t need a nanny and he was happy to be with the kids. As a matter of fact, he wanted me to follow my dream. And, were my kids upset that I was away sometimes? Well, I never asked myself that question. All I knew was that I believed I couldn’t have it all.
Then one day I called my coach and explained everything. I shared with her that I thought I was having a time management problem and didn’t know how to juggle career and family. My coach had a different take on it. Sure, I was busy proving my theory that I couldn’t have it all; however, there was no real evidence to back my belief. My career, after all, wasn’t ruining my children. They were happy and great.
Except, my theory was masking something else.
I was using my kids as an excuse to stay small at work. I was sabotaging opportunities in the name of my children. When I got to the root of it all, my coach helped me see that I had a big dream and I was hiding from it.
I was a chicken.
I was way more interested in proving my theory that “I can’t have it all,” than facing the truth that I was scared. Obviously, everyone gets scared sometimes, but this is the part of the pattern — my part in it — that I kept failing to see.
Staying small and being scared didn’t make me happy in my career, proud of myself or a great parent! It was actually making a mess of everything. @HGLifeCoaching (Click to Tweet!)
Here are the following steps I took to put my chicken back in its coop and to start having it all.
CREATE A VISION
I wrote an inspiring vision for my career and family life. It was about having an effortless flow between my home life, family, work and travel. I was my best in both arenas and made sure they fed each other. The more I articulated how I wanted to feel and show up, the more powerful it felt to live into this dream.
INVENT A NEW THEORY
I set out to prove a new theory: the braver I am in my career, the happier my kids and homelife will be.
It didn’t take long before I heard one of my kids say to me “I’m so proud of you” and the other, bragged to all her friends that her mom was on the cover of a magazine. My kids understood, and more importantly, felt that when I am expanding at work, I shine, radiate good vibes and show up better for them. I also found, that the more I worked on my parenting and marriage, the more confident I was with clients and collaborators.
Having kids was actually helping my career!
Clearly, what wasn’t working in my work-life balance, wasn’t all in my head! Some things, I actually had to change regarding how I was running my life. I needed to design promises that would help me stay present, loving and bold, if I wanted to succeed in both my career and home life.
Turns out, kids, spouses, moms, clients and co-workers, like predictability as much as they like attention. Chickens (and inner brats), not so much.
What if one of the reasons I couldn’t have it all, was because I didn’t put “all” into real time.
SO, HERE ARE SOME OF MY PROMISES:
- 6:30pm family dinner, no matter what, no screens or distractions
- If I am traveling, special evening cuddle sessions with each kid prior to travel
- One bold action per day in my career that scared me
- 10pm bedtime nightly with my husband for cuddle time (by phone when traveling)
- No being away two weekends in a row. No being out more than three nights/week
- I take kids to all doctor appointments and attend all performances
The structure of promises changed everything. But, in order to make sure that I kept my promises, I designed some self-imposed consequences for myself. For example, I pay my kids $20 if I am late to dinner. This worked wonders. Suddenly, seemingly overnight, I became very good at being on time to dinner! Funny how that works. And, If I’m late to bedtime, it’s 100 pushups the next day. At the very least, my inner brat will have strong arms!
What also locks a new theory in place is going public with it and being accountable to all involved. In this case, my family, friends, co-workers and coach. Telling everyone my vision and my promises allowed them to support me and hold me to it when my pesky mind would tell me I should shy away from a work opportunity.
Truly, it’s amazing how much articulating my dreams, debunking my bad theories and sticking to a simple action plan changed everything. Not only could I have it all, I could quit the suffering and enjoy the kid-friendly ride.
P.S. When it comes to making promises to ourselves, we all could use a little help along the way. If you need more inspiration, take the Current Reality Quiz! It’s a quick, easy, and fun (we swear) way to self-assess and get a better idea (or at least an honest one) on what areas of your life you need to work on.
Laurie Gerber is a Senior Coach and Co-President of Handel Group® Life Coaching. For over 15 years, Laurie has led international events and private coaching courses. She has appeared on MTV’s True Life, A&E’s The Marriage Test, Dr. Phil and TODAY.
Image courtesy of Juliette Leufke.