GUEST AUTHOR BLOG: The Reality of Trying to Be Superwoman by Mrs. Moneypenny author of, "Sharpen Your Heels: Mrs. Moneypenny's Career Advice for Women."
I don’t believe in the glass ceiling. It was removed a long time ago. The myth, however, persists and we need to demolish it.
To do this, you need to know that women cannot have it all. They really can’t.
Young women today are raised to believe that the sky is the limit. I admire ambition, and I believe that women should be encouraged to be ambitious from an early age. But to grow up thinking (and being encouraged to think) that it is perfectly possible to be the CEO of a large public company/brilliant brain surgeon/concert violinist, or whatever, and achieve this while securing and maintaining a gorgeous husband, having an amazing sex life, conceiving and raising perfectly balanced children, keeping up your league hockey at the weekends, plus still have time to see your girlfriends and your parents, get to the hairdresser and have your nails done, and finally to your Pilates classes, is to be severely deluded.
OK, this is the deal.
Your time is a scarce resource. How you allocate it is central to how successful your career will be. If you take on board all the other things that you need to do in order to build a successful career — including the right skills and experience, the right network, the financial understanding that I endorse – it is pretty unlikely that you are going to have time for much else.
I am often asked if I am happy. I find this a strange question.
Happy at that precise moment? Happy in general?
I personally believe that happiness is the wrong measure of success. I think that if we strive for happiness as a goal in its own right, we will always be unhappy. In my experience, it is simply not possible to be happy all of the time.
If what you are expecting is continual happiness, which is not achievable, then by definition you will always be unhappy. If you aim for the impossible, you will always be disappointed. In trying to have it all, you are almost certainly making sure that you will fail.
Back in 2007, Carol Bartz, former CEO of Yahoo!, was the CEO of Autodesk . This is what she said about trying to have it all — or, at least, trying to achieve the kind of ‘work–life’ balance women often think should be their goal:
Where I disagree with the concept of balance is, balance in itself connotes perfection which means that every day, I have to be a very great CEO, a great mom, a great public citizen. I should do some volunteer work, and I should call all my friends. And should call my grandmother. Maybe I should bake some cookies. So, every day I should be perfect at all of these things. That doesn’t work. That puts too much strain on all of us.
I think it would be a good idea if we all stopped thinking of trying to achieve ‘work–life’ balance. That implies that work is not life, whereas it is part of most people’s lives. I prefer people to think about ‘life balance.’
I believe that if women know what their priorities are, and spend their time in line with those priorities, they will achieve their goals — including their career goals — much more easily.
Excerpted from "Sharpen Your Heels" by Mrs. Moneypenny by arrangement with Portfolio Penguin, a member of Penguin Group (USA), Inc., Copyright © 2012.