Career or starting a family? As women, can we do both & are we holding ourselves back?
Career, family and the future. Can we do both?
Within the space of a week, I had two of my closest friends say something that almost caught me off guard and surprised me a little. When chatting about our futures, what we want to do and where we see ourselves (we have all of the light-hearted discussions over coffee over here!), they both mentioned how they wanted to work hard to have a great career and really progress... until they start a family and become a Mum.
This is something that I've never thought about - and not just because I'm so far off wanting kids, I think my Dad's actually starting to actually get a little worried he's never going to get Grandchildren - but because for me, whenever I do think about starting a family, I don't see myself wanting to give up or having to sacrifice my career.
Just because you might have children one day, why should that mean that you have to give up everything you've worked really bloomin' hard for up until that point? Why should you sacrifice your future and the potential of all of the things you could still yet achieve with your career?
Sheryl partly attributes this to the fact that as women, and together with the pressures of society, we sometimes check ourselves out of the competition before we even get to the point of seriously even thinking about starting a family. Sheryl isn't telling us all to find a way to turn ourselves into superwoman and be able to do it all. She's simply telling us to not 'leave before you leave.'
Don't make a decision now because 'one day' you'll want to start a family. Don't turn down a promotion because you plan to become pregnant 'at some point in the next few years'. Don't decide to not follow those career dreams or be any less ambitious because 'one day I'll want more balance'.
(Oh, and neither option is better than the other. Whichever one you, I, or any of us eventually choose to do will be the right choice for us and our families - and each decision will be different.)
However, why are so many of us already making this decision so far in advance? If it's illegal for your employer to ask questions and make decisions that could potentially hold you back because you plan to have a family 'someday' - why are we holding ourselves back for this very same reason?
In Sheryl's words, why are we already 'leaning back' from our career when really we should be putting our 'foot on the gas pedal and keeping it there until the day you have to make a decision'.