No, You Can't Have it All, and Here's Why
4 years ago when I was still in college, my roommate Mitchell and I would listen to Gary Vee on YouTube. We sat in our living room and gobbled up every sentence. Gary was so compelling; I’m pretty sure we took everything he said for absolute truth.
Except, there were some things I couldn’t wrap my mind around. He would say stuff like:
“I worked every single weekend of my 20s”
“Forever, 7 days a week, for life.”
I remember thinking that I couldn’t possibly love anything enough to give up my social life for it. After all, traveling and spending time with my friends were a big part of what made me feel like myself.
I loved Gary Vee and everything he stood for as an entrepreneur, but I couldn’t help but feel like this was extreme. He must have missed something important along the way.
There had to be a balance, right?
Fast forward four years later. Entrepreneurship is my full-time gig.
I quit my job in April 2018, co-founded a tech company, left that company, and started my own business in March of 2019--which means I’ve been moving full steam ahead for 16 months now.
When I thought I couldn’t possibly love anything enough to give up my social life, I found I was wrong.
I love my craft in a way that I never thought was possible. I live, sleep, and eat personal branding as my profession. It’s extreme. Very extreme.
And here’s the truth: I believe that massive results require massive action. My unpopular opinion says that no, you cannot have it all.
If I had read that sentence 4 years ago, I wouldn’t have believed it… because we’ve been sold a lie that tells us otherwise.
We’ve been told that we can travel to beautiful places, drink with our friends on the weekends, have amazing bodies that people swoon over, and build 7-figure empires - without breaking so much as a sweat.
And it simply isn’t true.
Because all these things work in direct opposition to each other.
Traveling to beautiful places = time you aren’t working on your business
Drinking heavily with your friends = time you aren’t improving your health
Building your 7-figure empire = time you aren't enjoying an active social life
Now, of course, it isn’t always this black and white, there are exceptions to all of these rules. Although generally speaking, you can’t have one without the other(s) being affected.
Any entrepreneur knows that choosing to do one thing, means we’ve chosen to forego another.
Our lives are a series of choices making hard sacrifices that don’t necessarily feel good all the time. It’s living in such a way that rejects instant gratification in pursuit of long-term rewards.
I read this on Instagram yesterday (it’s actually what inspired this blog post) and I think you guys will want to read it, too:
The question: “How do you balance life and leading a team of women entrepreneurs?”
The answer: “The truth is I don’t really believe in balance. As an entrepreneur, my life looks very different from people who work in corporate jobs. I choose integration instead. Choosing balance as an entrepreneur is a very elusive thing. Instead, I intentionally choose to integrate self-care, off-time, time with my loved ones, etc. It all has to work together and I have different seasons where more time is spent working and vice versa.” @erikasheffer
I love Erika’s response to this question because it acknowledges the complexities of an entrepreneurial lifestyle. This kind of life is different; thus whenever someone uses the word balance, it has never felt like an appropriate coping strategy.
The very notion of balance actually contradicts entrepreneurship entirely, because entrepreneurship is about sacrificing one thing in order to have another.
Integration, however, is about incorporating small acts of self-care into our life as we see fit. (And as our life allows for it.)
And she’s right, there are some weeks where maybe it just doesn’t happen.
There are months where I don’t see my friends or have one sip of alcohol. (I haven’t been on a date in God knows how long lol).
On the other hand, I feel confident when my intuition says it’s time to take Saturday off here and there. That’s integration.
Entrepreneurship is by nature, unbalanced. It’s messy. It’s sacrificial. And it’s uncomfortable.
And that’s why most people can’t do it or struggle with doing it.
I don’t want to discourage anyone from starting their own business or leaping into entrepreneurship. The title of this post isn’t meant to deter anyone from this lifestyle, but rather to dissolve the ridiculous illusion that we can do everything and have everything all at once.
As soon as we get comfortable with this idea, seemingly everything gets a little bit easier. Our expectations are re-evaluated, and we can knowingly walk into a season of delayed gratification.
However, I think us entrepreneurs can also take comfort in knowing that maybe it won’t always be this way or feel like this (at least that’s what they tell me).
Some seasons are a time for labor, others a time for travel, and others a time for love.
The key is to become self-aware enough to realize which season you’re currently living in.
As I currently stand…. I’m in a season of work.
So, is balance realistic? Probably not.
Integration? That seems more doable.
Tell me, which season do you find yourself in? Tell me in the comments section below.