I do think women can have it all, but not all at the same time. Our life comes in segments, and we have to understand that we can have it all if we’re not trying to do it all at once.

-Madeline Albright

Can women have it all?  This is a question I have been hearing a lot over the last few years.  With so many female driven movements, such as national women’s marches, #metoo, and Sheryl Sandberg’s challenge for us to Lean In, many women are challenging the stereotype that women have to pick and choose their paths, but that multiple paths will not work. Former Secretary of State, Madeline Albright, was once asked this question.  Her answer is the quote above and for some this might be empowering, but for other discouraging.  Let’s take a moment to consider what it means to have it all.

Last year, the New York Times asked if having it all, means doing it all? This is a great question, because it is often the assumption when we talk about women having it all.  That is, can women have successful careers, be leaders in their respective fields, while finding time to be mothers, wives, and lead healthy lifestyles.  Look through Instagram and you will find manyperfectblogger selfies, demonstrating a lifestyle of having it all.  Of course, the caption never tells us how many selfies it took to portray that message in the image.  Yet, we continue to wonder if this is a real thing.  We do know that around the world, as women’s presence in public life increases, they continue to do more than two times the amount of domestic work as men1.  So, how do they do it?  Does it look like a never-ending to-do list of work and fun?

I find that many women present in counseling with two scenarios: 1) a fear of failure, in which they are measuring their worth by continued success in areas of  their lives that are important to them, or 2) a fear of success, which for some is associated with anxiety, competition, and high expectations.  As a mental health counselor, I believe in empowering my clients to make informed choices about their lives.  This could involve decisions about relationships, families, work, health, and much more.  But what is key is helping clients reach a place in which they don’t have to fear failure or success, and I believe this comes with finding harmony.  Notice, I said harmony not balance.  We often hear about work-life balance, but can you tell me anyone who has actually achieved it.  Instead, wellness models suggest finding harmony – a pleasing combination that is right for you.  Therefore, I agree with Madeline Albright.  I think women can have it all, but we need to know that it might not be all at once, and that is okay.

Do you want to explore this more?  Begin by creating your own Wheel of Wellness. Download a FREE, printable Wheel of Wellness worksheet with instructions.