Can Women Have It All?

Can Women Have It All?

Which employment type will allow you to achieve all your dreams?

Can women have it all?

Can we have the career we desire with financial freedom and the family we cherish while taking care of our own well-being, health and sanity?

Can we really have everything that we want?

Oprah says we can have it all, just not all at the same time. Hanna Rosin, the author of “The End of Men, The Rise of Women,” gave an emphatic, “No!” when I asked her this question on The Rich Dad Radio Show. My friends in the corporate world tend to lean toward the “not possible,” and “no way” side of the scale, while my friends who own their own businesses seem to be a bit more optimistic on the subject.

The one key factor to having it all

This led me to delve into this question a bit deeper. What I did find was one factor that did seem to tip the scale to whether you would answer “Yes” or “No” to the question: Can women have it all?

Corporate women tend to favor the “No” side, especially corporate women with children. Children are a definite factor in this equation. Full-time employees, as well, take a more pessimistic approach. On the other side of the coin, female business owners and entrepreneurs struggle less with the idea and actually seem to create ways in their day-to-day lives to make “having it all” a reality.

So what’s the difference? Why do some women believe they can have their profession, their family and themselves all in a functional, sane and yes, even happy, life, while others simply don’t imagine it’s possible in their lifetime?

In my opinion, the key component to whether you can “have it all” or not depends upon one thing:

Do you control your schedule or is your schedule dictated by someone else?

In other words, are you in charge of your time … or not?

Who determines when you show up at work?

Who dictates when you can go home to your kids?

When weekend plans with family have to be altered because of business, is that your call or someone else’s?

All professions are not created equal

Different professions have different demands on women. Here are the top categories. Where do you fit in?

  1. The corporate woman with children

    I think mothers who want to advance in the corporate or business world struggle the most with the concept of “having it all.” It’s a tough gig. You are expected to put in long hours, attend corporate dinners, show up for early-morning conference calls, and more. If your boss needs you at 2:00 pm on a Saturday, it’s hard to say “No,” knowing that a promotion or raise (or even keeping your job) may depend on it.

    Yet, you don’t want to be a stranger to your children or be replaced by a nanny that they end up loving more than you. You want to spend time with your children, put them to bed at night and be there for all of those precious, once-in-a-lifetime-moments that come with being a mother. You want to be the successful businesswoman, the great mom and wife.

  2. The full-time employee with children

    This is the woman who works five or six days a week and is not striving for the corner office, becoming a partner in her firm or seeking an executive title. She’s doing work she enjoys (hopefully) and is content to bring home the paycheck and have a life outside of her job.

    She is not in control of her schedule while she is at her job. Her kids may go to school, daycare, or if she has the funds, be at home with a nanny. The conflict appears at those times when she wants to be with her kids but cannot because of her job. This is where the guilt kicks in. She is often the first one to leave the office at 5:00 pm to get home to her kids.

  3. The corporate woman or full-time employee with no children

    Not having control over your day-to-day schedule will always cause angst. Even if you don’t have children and work full-time, you still have obligations with friends and family and personal wants that often have to be put aside in the name of the job.

    Not having kids myself, I have to believe there is less conflict and guilt that go along with family and other life obligations (though you may feel some when you can’t spend enough time with your pet or spouse!), versus those of longing to spend more time with your kids.

  4. The career of mom

    If you know that you are meant to be a full-time mom and that is your profession, then the battle between work and family seems to almost disappear. The struggle to have it all may appear if you truly yearn to build a career along with being a mom and have put it on the back burner. Or, the struggle can show up later when your kids are grown and you now need to find a new purpose or profession in life. Up until that point, your kids were your purpose.
  5. The woman entrepreneur with children

    I believe you have more flexibility over your time than the woman employee, which is the key component. Although having your own business is no walk in the park — you will often put in more hours per week than the woman working for someone else. Yet, an entrepreneur makes her own rules and creates her own schedule, which is a huge plus when wanting to have it all.

    An added bonus is that you can involve your kids in your business and give them an education they’ll never get in school. I know of several female business owners doing just that. One couple is teaching their two young boys to be entrepreneurs. The boys, ages 10 and 14, are now on their third business together in three years.

    Another mother includes her daughter in her retail business whenever possible. The girl loves greeting customers, ringing up sales and being with her mom at the same time.

    I like what this mother of one and a senior executive at a large beauty company said:

    “I was thinking that while traditional careers (government, finance, corporate jobs) are pretty inflexible, I’m always inspired by the mom-trepreneurs who basically blaze their own trails to make it work. Rather than waiting for the world to be accepting of what you want out of work/life balance, it’s awesome to see women take control into their own hands, found their own businesses, pursue their passions, and all while being great moms. It takes a lot of guts, creativity and often the luxury of not being the primary earner, to be able to create those businesses. But, in the end, those businesses can employ lots of other moms trying to balance.”

  6. The entrepreneur without children

    That would be me. Robert and I have no children by choice. That would be my friend Mona with a thriving PR and publishing company. That would be my friend Kathy with a lucrative marketing business.

    If you don’t have kids in the equation, does this relieve some of the “having it all” pressure? No doubt about it (although, Robert can be a pretty big kid at times).

What other women say

There was an article in The Atlantic written by Anne-Marie Slaughter, entitled,“Why Women Still Can’t Have It All.” She summed it by saying, “the women who have managed to be both mothers and top professionals are superhuman, rich, or self-employed.” Slaughter went on to say, “The minute I found myself in a job that is typical for the vast majority of working women (and men), working long hours on someone else’s schedule, I could no longer be both the parent and the professional I wanted to be… Having it all, at least for me, depended almost entirely on what type of job I had.”

Mary Matalin, who spent two years as an assistant to George W. Bush and the counselor to Vice President Dick Cheney before stepping down to spend more time with her daughters, stated in the same article, “Having control over your schedule is the only way that women who want to have a career and a family can make it work.”

Technology offers women more flexibility

One thing that is changing the traditional pattern of the working woman is technology and the ability, in many jobs, to work from anywhere — and that’s never been more true than right now, when so many jobs shifted to remote positions during the pandemic.

There is a popular magazine (I won’t reveal the name) that employed many female journalists. A number of these women worked from home and the majority had children. Working from home gave these women the flexibility to research and write at whatever hours they chose, which allowed them to be with their kids when needed.

They had control over their schedule. Then, the founder retired and appointed his son as president. The first change the son made was to demand that all employees work from the corporate office and not from home. Why? I don’t know. Maybe he was a micro-manager that wanted to prove himself to Daddy (just my opinion).

So what happened? Almost every one of these female journalists chose control of their time over their paycheck, and they all quit. These women felt that, in many cases, they did have it all and they were not willing to give that up for money.

Do you want it all?

So, can women have it all? I think so. The bigger question is… do you want it all?

Not every woman is meant to be an entrepreneur or business owner. It’s not in their natural DNA. So to say, “Quit your job and start your own business so you can be in control of your time and have it all,” would be naïve, not to mention impracticable. This is no different than believing in the fairytale ending, “And they lived happily ever after.” Just a little idealistic.

There are women who thrive in the corporate environment. That is their arena and where they excel. Full-time moms play a key role in our world. You know if that’s the environment that suits you best.

The real question comes down to not, “Do you want to have it all?”, but instead, “What do you want?” Ask yourself:

In what environment do you flourish?

Where do you find your passion?

What gives you meaning in life?

Once you discover this, then the rest falls into place.

At age 26, when I was working and struggling to pay the rent and car loan, I knew I wanted my own business. (The fact that I’d been fired twice was an added incentive.) I got a five-year taste of the corporate-employee-world working in advertising agencies and magazines in Honolulu. I knew early on that the corporate environment was not for me.

My goal was to have my own business by age 30, and I started my first business at 27. I also knew at age 27 that if I had a life partner, he would also be my business partner. And I knew that I wanted my work to have meaning for me. That’s what I wanted. And that’s still what I want today. That is the right answer for me.

What’s the right answer for you?

Have whatever you want

Can women have it all? I believe women can have whatever they want — without the guilt. What makes your heart sing? Pursue that. If you have children and they see their mom passionate about her work and doing what she loves, then what an exceptional role model she is to those kids. And if she doesn’t have kids, what an incredible example she sets to those close to her and to other women around her.

I believe in seeking out or creating the environment that best fits you and will allow you to thrive. This sounds easy, and I know some women don’t feel they have that choice right now. They’re too busy taking care of their family’s basic needs. Understood.

But it’s certainly not too late for any one of us to start creating the life we want if we don’t have it right now. And it’s not too late to take one action, no matter how small or big, every day, starting today, to move you toward that desired life.

Maybe that means finding a side hustle job before you quit your day job to pursue it full time. Perhaps it means doing something you’ve always said you’ll do “someday” — such as getting started in real estate. Or maybe it means starting a bit more simply, by learning about which of the five asset classes is right for you or reading my book, “It’s Rising Time.”

Can women have it all? I say yes. The question is, what all do you want?

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Original publish date: January 10, 2013