Step 1 To Having It All

Share Button

When I was 10 I decided that I was going to be an interior designer when I grew up. I have no idea how I came to that conclusion and/or how I even knew what an interior designer was growing up in my itty town in the middle of nowhere Iowa WAY before HGTV was a thing.

So as part of these plans, I set my sights on New York City…as a 10 year old from a town of 1,700.

I declared to all of my friends that I was going to live in Brooklyn and adopt a daughter and name her Brooke Lynn (clever right?!) and I wasn’t going to get married because I was never going to make dinner for someone else.

havingitall1My 10 year old self’s idea of having it all = become an interior designer, move to NYC, adopt a child, stay single (aka only cook dinner for myself).

When I graduated from design school I headed to Boston as my stepping stone to New York City and got a job at a national interior architecture firm. I was living the dream.  Assuming that making $19K/year and living at the end of the Logan airport runway in East Boston was a dream! (As a result, I can sleep through anything!) As I settled into “adult” life, I started to realize that I might want to entertain the idea of a future husband and family after all, but only as long as I could continue to climb the corporate ladder—travel for business, move to NYC, work long nights, and “network” on a regular basis.

havingitall2My 22 year old self’s idea of having it all = get married, raise awesome city kids, while working like a crazy person and become a well renowned interior designer.

But over time, as I paid more attention to the women in my life that I thought “had it all”, I realized that they were not as happy as I had believed. It made me start to think. One day on the train into work I thought to myself, “Do I want to do this for the rest of my life?”

Because that’s a long time.

Shortly thereafter I met my husband, which led to a million conversations on what we wanted together. From those conversations and a lot of soul searching I started to frame the direction that I wanted to move in and understand what was most important to me.

havingitall3My 26 year old self’s idea of having it all = being happy.

So there you have it.

The Formula for Having it All
Step 1: Realizing that only you can define what that is for you.

You need not listen to anyone else, including your 10 year old self.  It doesn’t mean being Wonder Woman, having kids, not having kids, working full time, staying at home, getting married, staying single…it means being happy with whatever you choose.

As a young adult, having it all meant to me working really hard for others and being a successful business woman while single handedly running the most efficient household and having the most coiffed children. When I really came to grips on what that actually meant—it sounded horrifying…and exhausting! All of it. That clearly wasn’t going to make me happy. So I chucked that idea and all of my other preconceived notions.

havingitall4What does make me happy?  Living in the suburbs as a self-employed work-from-home-mom of two boys, married to an awesome husband (who does bathrooms, floors and dishes) that I make dinner for every. single. night.

Believe me, it’s not all rainbows and unicorns, but for me if gives me the balance between my work (which I love) and my family life that I need to thrive.

When I think about it, it makes me smile.

Of course, what you want and need to be happy is very likely completely different. And that is A-OK. It’s for YOU and only you to decide.

And here’s the real secret…it’s not too late.


  1. There’s hope for me yet! Jennessa I loved your post, and even if your definition of happiness evolved over the years, I love that you were self-assured enough at 10 to define it. No wonder I like you so much.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *