Chapter 9: The Myth of Doing It All
Does it appear that everyone else has their lives together and you are the one running around trying to pick up the pieces? Do you run out of time to get all of the things done on your list? Do you wonder how super mom manages her job, her kids, and her life so perfectly? Sometimes my life feels this way and this dilemma is what Sheryl Sandberg discusses in Chapter 9 of Lean In.
No one has it all. But it’s easy to think that everyone else does, especially when we get most of our information about someone’s life from their Instagram or other social media posts. Learn to make the most of what you have and maximize your time for the most benefits and what makes you happy. Sandberg included this quote by Sharon Poczter, Professor of Economics at Cornell, in Chapter 9:
“The antiquated rhetoric of ‘having it all’ disregards the basis of every economic relationship: the idea of trade-offs. All of us are dealing with the constrained optimization that is life, attempting to maximize our utility based on parameters like career, kids, relationships, etc., doing our best to allocate the resource of our time. Due to the scarcity of this resource, therefore, none of us can ‘have it all,’ and those who claim to are most likely lying.”
Do what makes you happy. Make time for things that you want to do. I used to give up on working out when I was busy with work or school. Now I always make running or working out a priority by trading it off with other things. Does the house always have to be clean? Do I need to respond to this email right now?
The most valuable lesson I learned about doing it all and deciding what mattered happened in graduate school. (Any of my CSAA professors should stop reading right now). At the beginning of my graduate program I insisted on reading every assigned article and chapter very carefully while taking notes. This often caused me to say no to spending time with friends and miss out on opportunities for connections and networking. Throughout the 2 years I learned to discern what was important and what was not. I learned to skim some of those chapters, and I learned above all, as the quote below explains, what mattered and what did not. I was not a “perfect” student that read every single word of every assignment, and I still have a master’s degree!
Every day we make choices about the amount of time we are going to spend perfecting something and where our priorities lie. Dr. Glimcher (quote below) stated for her this meant getting home at a reasonable hour but not spending that time at home making sure the house was clean.
What should your priorities be today? Are you wasting time perfecting something that does not need to be perfect? As Facebook’s wall so proudly displays: Done is better than perfect.
This post is part of a series on Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg