Why you can (and can’t) have it all by @alleecreative

Mother's Day 2014. For me, a reminder of what it's all for.
Mother’s Day 2014. For me, a reminder of what it’s all for.

by Melissa Harrison | Featured Contributor

I’ve been stressed out. It’s the good and the bad that is causing the stress–business is great, we’re in the midst of building a new home, all four of our kids have various activities and end-of-the-school-year celebrations, I’m trying hard to stay fit and healthy (that part isn’t working so well)–it’s nuts. I’ve always been pulled in 68 directions at once, but for whatever reason, this year is the worst.

And while it might not be a revelation of much magnitude, I’ve realized during the past year (and hugely during the past 3 months) that I cannot have it all. At least not all at once. I’m pretty sure Oprah said that same thing.

I didn’t believe her when I heard it.

When I set out to write this post, I thought it would be easy to break things out by category (my Type A personality is really apparent, isn’t it?). However, that added to my stress (it’s Friday…by the end of the week anything will stress me out). So instead of writing about each “hat” we could potentially wear (I think I counted at least 12 last time I truly thought about it) and how to be OK with letting go of those once in awhile, here’s my take on coming to terms with having it all in moderation and being OK with letting things go.

When I know it’s not working

The biggest consumers of my time are my family and my business. There is literally one day in the next 90 days that does not have something on the calendar. I feel guilty about not being able to plan things spur-of-the-moment because of all the things already scheduled.

This is a huge red flag that something isn’t working.

So, while I can’t un-schedule many of the things already on my calendar, I can stop being the “yes” girl and be firmer with my “no”s. It’s hard, but it’s oh-so-important. When I think about the days that are less stressful than others, they are the ones where I don’t check email every 2 seconds and where I fully engage with my kids. It’s not working if we can’t unglue ourselves from technology and constantly feel a state of impending doom if we don’t have our screens on all the time.

As business owners and entrepreneurs, part of the reason we built our companies was to have flexibility and enjoy our lives they way we wanted to live them, right? And while it’s hard to take a break, we all know something has to give the moment we start stressing ourselves out.

Letting go

I work 50+ hours each week and while I love what I do and I’ve built a wonderful company, I still get stressed out. But I have to work to support my family; and so the cycle begins. What good is a great business and wonderful kids if I can’t be around to enjoy it all? The cycle keeps going: My health. Either I’m “on it” or I’m not. It’s very difficult for me to eat healthy during uber-busy weeks. Even though I might get my workouts in (by default, really, since I moonlight as a group exercise instructor in the evenings) it doesn’t mean I’m feeling good about things. So what gives?

Pick something.

This is the hardest part for me because really, who doesn’t want to be great at everything? But you know what, it’s really OK to let go (I’ll remind myself to re-read this sentence next week when I’m stressed out). So I try to be OK with letting things go. It’s insanely difficult for me to do that, but when I do, I’m so much happier. I encourage others to do the same. It’s important for us to take care of ourselves and sometimes, that means cutting down the load of responsibilities and just enjoying life.

What it’s all for

And really, that’s what it’s all about. Whether you have kids or not, we all have special people in our lives that, if we had all the time in the world to hang out with, we would. Think about it: If money wasn’t a factor, what would you be doing right now? It’s easy to tell others to “live like there’s no tomorrow” but it’s harder to act on that philosophy. Give yourself room to go there; understand that many of the pressures we put on ourselves as women, as business owners, as mothers, as friends, as daughters–they can be self-inflicted.

You are great. We all are great. And if you feel like you can’t do it all, that’s OK. Because prioritizing and choosing the things that make you happy IS having it all.


Melissa Harrison – Marketing and Small Business Executive from Allee Creative, Twin Cities, MN

MelissaMelissa Harrison , CEO and founder of Allee Creative, LLC , has more than 13 years of experience in content management, marketing strategy and branding, working with small to mid-sized businesses to build strategic online content and traditional marketing strategies.

Listed as one of the “Top 36 Content Marketers Who Rock” by TopRank and Content Marketing Institute, Melissa believes that businesses must adapt to what customers want, which includes using social media and creative online content to provide relevant, consistent information, in order to survive. It is no longer business as usual and only the companies that strive to embrace change will remain relevant.

Melissa is also a four-time recipient of the Hermes Creative Award and a national speaker on the topics of branding, content marketing, marketing strategy and social media. Melissa is also certified by Google Analytics Academy in Digital Analytics Fundamentals.

In addition to her professional life, Melissa is a mother of four, a certified fitness instructor an avid reader. If you look up “insane multi-tasker” in the dictionary you’ll most definitely find her picture. Melissa is forever pushing the envelope, starting her company when she was pregnant with her second child at the young age of 27 years old. Named a “Mover & Shaker” by the Star Tribune, she’s fought with the “big boys” for her spot at the table and continues to challenge herself each day.

For more information and to connect with Melissa, give her a shout on Twitter, LinkedIn;  or check out the Allee Facebook page.

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6 Replies to “Why you can (and can’t) have it all by @alleecreative”

  1. Kris

    Genuine and true! Advice that I received once (and will never forget): we all seek balance in our lives. Seek, instead, for fulfillment. Balance always requires a sacrifice of some kind: giving something up to have or do something else. Fulfillment is lead by your heart and your desires. Choose wisely – as you already do!

    1. Melissa Harrison

      Thanks, Kris!

  2. Ali Manning

    I love this post – thank you for writing it. I was having a conversation with my husband about this topic yesterday. I really think the concept of ‘having it all’ is a myth and one that I’ve decided not to strive for. I understand ‘having it all’ to mean a fantastic career, fulfilling relationship with your partner, being an engaged and active parent, having hobbies, spending time with friends, being active in a community and including time for self care, both physical and spiritual – I’m exhausted just writing the list. I think it’s more a question of constantly re-evaluating priorities. At the top of my list is always my family and self care but then the othes cycle in and out depending on what stage of my life I’m at.

    1. Melissa Harrison

      Great point, Ali. Prioritizing is a great way to look at things; it is all about where we are at in our lives at the time and everything takes its turn in the cycle.

  3. Ryan Biddulph

    Melissa, good advice! Having it all for me means being detached. Today I worked for about 4 hours, then went to the beach for about 2 hours here in Phuket. Then, another few hours of work, maybe a movie, dinner, and chill time. Had to let go my normal workday bit, because it’s all part of detaching for me, on a weekend. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Melissa Harrison

      Good for you, Ryan! I agree; having time to detach on the weekends especially is a must. I’ve been doing much better at that this past few months. Trying to really take time to relax and rejuvenate over the weekend. Emails can wait. 🙂

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