Many have tried, just as many have failed. The pursuit of having it all is one of life’s great efforts.
But the reality is that nobody can have it all.
There is nobody on Earth who can single-handedly juggle working a high-pressure job, always being there for their children, being the partner and friend everyone wants AND finding the time for exercise and pursuing personal interests.
Over the weekend, The Guardian considered the new reality for men who are, like women, juggling 'it all'. It called them the 'super dads' who're managing career, family, friends and downtime, and interviewed a number of fathers on how they're trying to make it all work. This is a distinct generational change from the experiences of men of even 10 years ago. It highlighted that you won’t always have everything.
Life is a story of compromise, and just like the Rolling Stones said, “You can’t always get what you want”.
At different stages we have to make a decision about what we value and will prioritise. By having this sound understanding of who we are we can make the best decision about how and where we're going to spend our time.
It sounds very pie in the sky, but I know it works.
When my mother first became a parent in the 1980s she knew that she wanted to go back to work. My father, a tradie, wanted to spend time with his children.
A few months after my second brother was born, my dad took leave from work for almost a year to be the primary parent while my mother was able to return to work.
They muse now that it wasn’t easy, but that it gave them an equal footing to contribute to the family over the long-term.
And that is what having it all is all about, making commitments to work through the hard times now so they can be better later on.
That means that you will say no to some things at work, or you won’t be at every game for your child. That is ok. It isn’t the end of the world.
The focus when having to weigh up these decisions is what is more important for you, what is the life you want and does pursuing a particular activity allow you to have it.
Some people want to be the boss and will do whatever they have to do to get there, and good for them. While others want to be able to support their children emotionally all the time, and they’re welcome to do so too. And then there’s the rest of us swimming somewhere in the vague middle.
Ask anyone who you think “has it all” and they will tell you that it doesn’t exist. They have a lot of help or had to make big sacrifices to achieve their ideal life.
Good on them for being honest.
You are the only one who can best assess your priorities and ambitions. It is about making a judgment on what you really want to do.
As hard as it can be, you can make that choice.
Conrad Liveris is a workforce diversity specialist
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