How To “Have It All” as a 21st Century Woman
Yep, you read that right – women (and men too for that matter), really can have it all. But, there’s a catch…
International Women’s Day
Today, International Women’s Day (IWD), is a day to reflect on the social, economic, political and cultural advancements of the female of the species. In the last century, we have made great strides towards gender parity. In most countries we now have the right to work, to vote, to marry or not, to have children or not. Even Saudi Arabia, that great bastion of gender inequality and my former childhood home, has given women the keys to the kingdom by legalising their right to drive. But there is still some way to go. If #MeToo has shown us anything it is that women will and must continue to eradicate the dark spectre of sexual disparity. Indeed, this is a fact that has been recognised by IWD organisers themselves.
Now, more than ever, there’s a strong call-to-action to press forward and progress gender parity. There’s a strong call to #PressforProgress motivating and uniting friends, colleagues and whole communities to think, act and be gender inclusive.International Women's Day organisors
But for too long, this quest for equality has put undue pressure on women to prove that we can do it all. Too many of us are running ourselves ragged trying to be the perfect partner, mother, employee or employer, sister, neighbour and friend. There’s work in the office, work at home, work in the gym, work in the community.
Whatever women do they must do twice as well as men to be thought half as good. Luckily, this is not difficult.Charlotte Whitton
All this in a bid to “have it all”. In my case, I thought that the secret to happiness was a simple a+b= xtra-odrinary life formula. If I went to the right university, worked for the right employer, married the right guy then life would be perfect. And it almost was… almost. But I was so focused on doing the right thing, that I completely forgot to check if it was the right thing for me. Turns out that it really wasn’t, which leads me nicely onto the first step to having it all as a woman today.
I think women are foolish to pretend they are equal to men; they are far superior and always have been.William Golding
Don’t be a die-hard try hard
You cannot be all things to all people, that is a fact that you ignore at your peril. In truth, the only way that you can “have it all” is by being very careful how you define “it”, otherwise having it all will turn into struggling and failing to do it all. Having it all as a 21st century woman is about having the freedom to make choices. To choose the work-life balance that best suits you. To choose what type of career you pursue and for how long. To choose whether you work in the home or go out to earn. Even men don’t get to have it all in the traditional sense, so be selective. Decide what matters most to you and pursue that.
Don’t tell me where your priorities are. Show me where you spend your money and I’ll tell you what they are.James W. Frick
Put your money where your mouth is
It is said that where you spend your money is where your priorities lie. Well in our fast paced modern world time is money, so show me where you spend your time and I’ll tell you what your priorities are. Being successful doesn’t just happen. You have to work at it, again and again. As women our attention is often divided by the demands of work, family and life in general, more so than for most men. So if you find yourself struggling to find time to pursue your dream goals, take a hard look at your schedule and prioritise. Remember, you can’t just stumble into the life that you want, you have to create it. Allow yourself the time and energy to build your dream life.
Society is guilty of conditioning women and girls to put themselves last in life. An ambitious man in the workplace is called a leader, and an ambitious woman is called aggressive. We are told that putting ourselves first is selfish and nobody wants to be selfish, right? Well, I beg to differ. Putting yourself first is not only healthy on occasion, but essential to living your best life. I have said it before but it bears repeating: you cannot pour from an empty cup. So if you’re striving for that happily ever after, make sure that you fit in a little bit of me time in your daily routine. It will allow you to pause, think and to be sure that when you do act, it is in your best interest.
“No” is not a dirty word
How many times have you said “yes” when you really meant “heck, no!”? Fear of causing offence, being seen as selfish or uncooperative often stop us from cutting the cr*p from our lives. But if we want to be successful and to have it all, then we need to learn how to put our needs ahead of other people’s desires. Have the courage to say no when necessary and leave the guilt at home. Remember, you can’t do everything. So in order to do some things you will need to say no to others. Just make sure that you don’t say no to your dreams!
An attitude of gratitude
I am as guilty as the next woman of always looking ahead at the work still left to do, rather than appreciating how far I have come. If I have had a productive day in the office, then I am stressing still about the inbox full of emails left unanswered. Few of us spend enough time being grateful for what we have, rather than pining for what we don’t. But women who have it all have developed an attitude of gratitude. Take time to remind yourself each day of the good things that you already have in life and you will attract more of the same.
Finally if you want to have it all then you have to take responsibility for it all, the good, the bad and the ugly. If something in your life isn’t right, then you have to step up to the plate and fix it, no excuses. Don’t point fingers and don’t play the victim. You are in control of your life. So make sure that you build a life that is worthy of you – one of respect, love and longevity.
By following these steps we can all move towards a fairer, brighter future where our daughters and our sons both have a shot at grabbing that brass ring.
I am a firm believer in the old adage “love comes first”. Self-love is the foundation of all love, but for many it is the most elusive. I am passionate about helping people to love themselves, so that they can be free to live their best lives.