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You Can't Actually Have it All

Updated: Apr 26, 2021

Not only do I recognize that I can’t have it all, I’ve realized that I don’t want it all either. I don’t want the exhaustion that comes from spreading myself too thin. I don’t want the...

In this era of the almighty woman, and all things woman empowerment, I think it’s important to distinguish the difference between being your best self, versus killing yourself to be super woman. One thing that women can do well is take on the weight of the world, yet still appear to have it all together. Often, this is celebrated as a means of accomplishment. However, this comes at a sacrifice to something else, usually your mental health. There is no prize in being everything to everyone.

While I’m encouraging myself, and you, that we can accomplish everything that we desire, I’m reminded that we can’t actually “have it all.” I’ve been consciously removing things and people from my plate. Not only do I recognize that I can’t have it all, I’ve realized that I don’t want it all either. I don’t want the exhaustion that comes from spreading myself too thin. I don’t want the stress that comes with the need to always say yes. I don’t want the guilt that comes with needing my rest/down time. I don’t want the pressure that comes with having to appear well put together all the time. I don’t want it all.

I think this past year has been trying for all of us in different ways. It kind of forced me to strategize better and make tough decisions about what needed to come off of my plate. I asked myself, are the contents of the box higher than the height of it? The answer was absolutely yes!

I saw someone on social media say it even better: “when you spill your cup, you then realize that it was overflowing form the beginning.” All of the pieces literally can’t fit back into the cup, because it was never designed to all fit anyway. Then you have to make the decision of which items you’ll put back in as you’re filling your cup back up, deciding which can wait, and which aren’t even necessary at all.

I want my cup filled, but I don’t want it overflowing. I thrive in being organized, productive, and even busy. I don’t enjoy being flustered, overwhelmed, chaotic and stretched beyond my capacity. We associate that behavior with being a “boss” or “getting the bag.” I now know that bosses have mastered structure, prioritizing, and getting the assistance that they need.

I remember when my company, DCLA Productions, was hired to help with a music conference in Charlotte a few years ago. A keynote speaker for the conference was Matthew Knowles. I’ll never forget how he stepped up and asked all the artist to stand up. He said remain standing if you also do your own marketing. Then he said remain standing if you also do your own engineering. He asked a few more rounds of those types of questions, and at the end about a dozen people were still standing.

I remember the people standing having an air of arrogance and feeling proud like “yup, I do all these things myself.” Then Mr. Knowles said “you’ll never succeed that way.” His point was that you need to master one thing before you try to take on something else. He said it takes seven years to master something.

Most of us don’t adhere to that. In our quest to “have it all”, we end up trying to do it all. Even if you happen to make it that way, what else do you sacrifice in the process? Your family? Your peace? Your sanity? Why do you think so many rich people commit suicide or struggle with substance abuse? That final destination will never make you happy if you had to kill yourself to get there. There is no power in running yourself in the ground. You simply can’t have it all. Something has got to go!

In the same breath, accomplishing everything that you set out for requires a great deal of discipline and sacrifice. You ever talk to someone and they tell you all these amazing things they want to do, but their day-to-day life doesn’t reflect any of it? I’ve talked to plenty of youth that said they wanted to be a doctor, yet they goof off in school. What med school can you get into with mediocre grades? Every single day people tell me that they want to lose weight, yet they eat horribly and refuse to workout. Like oooo…..kkkk sis, good luck with that! I know lots of people that want new jobs, but they obviously think it will just fall in their laps because they don’t even take the time to apply.

Here is what I want you to do. Think about everything that you want out of life. Write it down. After seeing it on paper, prioritize it in numerical order. Start at number one and then ask yourself these questions:

  1. What are you willing to do for it?

  2. What sacrifices are required to make it possible?

  3. Are you equipped and prepared for it?

  4. If not, what is required to prepare?

  5. Do you have the necessary resources to make it happen?

  6. Do you know anyone already doing it who you can ask to help guide you in the right direction?

  7. What is the plan, time frame, budget, etc to accomplish this?

  8. How many hours per day can you dedicate to it?

After number one, do the same thing for number two, number three, and so on. You will quickly find that you want more than you have the bandwidth for. There are literally not enough hours in the day once you break it all out.

Here is what I found for myself. I identified three top goals that I wanted to tackle. I estimated that I would need two hours per day on each of them, based on my answers to the questions above. Then I wrote out the time frames of my current day as is:

  • Sleep – six hours (I wake up at 4:30am, not willing to do any earlier lol)

  • Morning time with God – 30 min

  • Prep for gym – 20 min

  • Workout – one hour

  • Prep for work – one hour

  • Commute - two hours (total)

  • Work – eight hours

  • Parental/household responsibilities – three hours

I have literally two hours and 10 minutes remaining in my day, and that assumes everything went as planned, no crazy traffic, not getting stuck at work, etc. It was quickly apparent that I did not have two hours per day for each of my top three goals. I really only had two hours per day to dedicate to one. So which one would that be?

Now of course on weekends, I can do more so I factor that in as well. I work a lot on the weekends as I have T.U.F.F Chicks apparel orders to fulfill, blogs to write, contracts to review for events, etc. I wake up at 6am on weekends to get the best use of my days. I also reserve family time on the weekends, and then also girlfriend time, date nights, or just ME TIME!

My list isn’t perfect, but it’s just to get you to see what you have going on and analyze what is actually feasible for YOU! Because many of us have not taken the time to examine the contents of our cup, we are overwhelmed, and frankly unproductive. In this cycle, we do a little bit of everything, which often results in a whole bunch of nothing. Then we get frustrated and quit everything. Then a few months later we start back up again, but haven’t made any real changes, so the cycle repeats itself. Then we’re convinced that we’re just not capable.

You are very much capable. You deserve what it is that you want out of everything, so long as you work for it. However, you simply can’t have it all. That lie has led to toxic cycles that negatively impact mental health, and it is time to break that cycle. You’ll sacrifice sleep, time with your children, time to yourself, and some more. So whatever you do, make sure that it’s worth it for what you ultimately want out of life.

From One T.U.F.F Chick to Another,

Michelle L.


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