What does ‘having it all’ really mean?

There are many books and articles giving women tips to better manage their time and enable them to ‘have it all’.  I’m not going to tell you how to schedule your life to fit it all in. Nor am I going to give you time management tips or tell you that you should compromise on this or that. That doesn’t work anyway.  Instead, I am going to ask you this: what does ‘having it all’ mean to you?

The phrase ‘having it all’ is usually used to refer to a woman’s, usually a mother’s, successful balance between her work and family.  But who is defining whether a woman’s balance is ‘successful’? And what is it ‘all’ anyway?

For me, these two questions are the key to ‘having it all’.  I think people often miss that ‘all’ is not defined.  My idea of having it all might be completely different to yours.  To me, ‘having it all’ means having all the components of life that make ME happy. Living MY life the way I want to; not the way society tells me I should live it.  MY all is fluid. It changes as I move through different phases of my life. I am the only judge of whether I am successful at having MY all and, therefore, whether I ‘have it all’.

To my mind, having it all is not about being rich, married, having a large house, well-behaved children, plenty of holidays, a great social life, and some hobbies on the side. It is about happiness and personal fulfilment. Sure, some of that may be derived from ticking the stereotypical ‘having it all’ boxes, but it is much broader than that.

Are you happy?
Are you making time for the things that are important to you?
Are you mindful of living your life in accordance with your values?
Is your life meaningful?

If you have answered yes to these questions then it sounds to me like you have your ‘all’ too.

What ‘it all’ consists of has changed for me throughout different stages of my life, but there has been one constant: having it all is feeling happy, fulfilled and balanced.

I think we often get caught up in what others are doing and feel like we are missing out because we aren’t doing the same.  I’ve recently missed Christmas dinner with my close friends, many fun days out with my sisters (local craft markets, yoga, food markets) and a friend’s house warming party. Although I would like to attend all of these things, the reality is that they just aren’t my ‘all’ right now. Right now my ‘all’ is spending my time with my family, being at home in the evenings and at nights to help my daughter sleep (she can’t settle to sleep without me) and working in the career that I love, but am now only doing part-time.

Yes, it is a balance, but I am happy to let go of these things for now. It doesn’t mean rejecting my friends and family, it just means that I am doing what I need to do for me. I am having my all on my terms.



  1. Kim Stone | 21st Jan 17

    I love this so much and completely agree that many mums have lost sight of their all. It’s amazing how much we are on the same wave length right now.

  2. Jacq | 21st Jan 17

    I agree. It’s not about having it all. It’s about having what’s personally important to me. 🙂 In that case, I have it all because I have a loving family, friends, and a super fun hobby! xx


  3. Vicki | 21st Jan 17

    Great post and agree that the definition of “having it all” is relative. To have a good mix of happiness and contentment is where it’s at for me. If that means some of the time I spend at home or at work may be dull sometimes, I feel fulfilled with what I have, not thinking about what I don’t have. Again, great post 🙂

  4. Angela Watling | 21st Jan 17

    I like how your refer to it as ‘your all’ because I completely agree that there is no fixed target we’re all aiming for. We each have to do what is right for us and striving for anything else certainly won’t lead to a happy and fulfilled life! #fortheloveofBLOG

  5. Kelly Edwards | 21st Jan 17

    You are right. ‘Having it all’ is all a matter of perspective and will differ for each person. I think it’s also trying to see the smaller things for what they are, not wishing time away (It’s nearly Friday, going on holiday in 3 weeks etc…) Life is too short to be wishing time away. 🙂 x #fortheloveofblog

    • Lucy | Leaning In | 22nd Jan 17

      Not wishing time away! Such a good point. I always try to stop myself when I start to say ‘I can’t wait until …’. I CAN wait!

  6. Lydia C. Lee | 21st Jan 17

    Interesting post. I agree to an extent, but I’d also be careful about dropping your friends interests too much. If people invest in your needs, you also need to reciprocate in theirs from time to time too…#FortheloveofBlog

    • Lucy | Leaning In | 22nd Jan 17

      Of course! After all, that’s how friendships are built and maintained!

  7. Nicola | 21st Jan 17

    I agree…personally ‘Having it all’ would not mean having a career and time with my children it would just mean having time with my children. Once my children were born my career meant nothing to me, I just wanted to be a mum and that is still the case. That would definitely mean I had it all!

  8. Jaki | 21st Jan 17

    I’ve got my family. And my health. That is enough. Lovely post. #pocolo

    • Lucy | Leaning In | 22nd Jan 17

      ‘Enough.’ I like that word in this context. We don’t always need to have more, we can be happy with what we have!

  9. Geraldine | 23rd Jan 17

    Absolutely! Being happy is what its all about. It’s not about having this that or the other. I may still struggle on certain days but I am happy #fortheloveofblog

  10. Tracey | 24th Jan 17

    This is so true, I think a lot of us spend our time thinking about things we are yet to do or achieve without appreciating what is right in front of us! #globalblogging

  11. Ursula (Mumbelievable) | 24th Jan 17

    I felt every word of this post. Redefining what ‘all’ means to each of us, as opposed to what we think it means as thrust upon us by someone else, is the key to achieving it. Thank you. #dreamteam

  12. Helena | 25th Jan 17

    This is a really thought provoking blog post. Thank you for sharing it on #GlobalBlogging

  13. Amy@MoreTimeThanMoney | 25th Jan 17

    Ick I hate the phrase “having it all”. Totally agree that you should just focus what is important to you, right now, in the season of life you are currently in. You are enough!

  14. Stephanie Robinson | 26th Jan 17

    You’re right, my having it all is probably (and should be) different to your having it all – and that’s ok. Comparing ourselves to a norm which probably doesn’t exist isn’t healthy. Thanks for sharing with #PoCoLo x

  15. One Messy Mama | 29th Jan 17

    “Are you happy?
    Are you making time for the things that are important to you?
    Are you mindful of living your life in accordance with your values?
    Is your life meaningful?

    Great questions to ask yourself! An incredibly thought provoking post! Thanks Lucy!


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