My mission for 2016: Let go of ‘having it all’

Coffee in hand, goal planner on the desk, it was time to reflect on 2015 before I planned my business goals for the year ahead.

2 March 2016 by

2015 was a good year for me business wise. It started with a great burst of positive energy. I had been fumbling along in lackluster fashion for a while, and I’d decided that enough was enough.

This was the year I was going to GET STUFF DONE and chase down all those opportunities that I’d been procrastinating over.

So with great excitement (and investment), I hired a coach, created an inspiring vision board for my life and business, set clear goals, re-defined my target market and revamped my branding and offerings. I put up my prices and knocked my website into shape.

As 2015 wore on, in addition to running many successful events for my clients, I launched a new revenue stream by authoring a series of eBooks and digital products. And through guest blogs, exhibitions and social media, I cemented myself as an expert in my field.

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I did well. And yet, there were still countless things on my to do list that never got done, and so many opportunities that I let slide. It turns out that taking your business to the next level requires much more than a ‘Let’s do this!’ attitude, even when backed by a truckload of work.

For all the best of intentions, sometimes life gets in the way. I am a mother of a young child, and working from home while caring for her is a juggling act where I simply cannot keep all the balls in the air all of the time.

Those stock photos that show Mum or Dad working on the computer while a toddler plays contentedly at her feet are such a laugh, aren’t they? The reality of working from home, of course, is that young children will choose precisely the moment you sit down to stop playing contentedly and start demanding your attention. Thus begins the tug of war of trying to get your work done while keeping your child happy, and doing neither particularly well. Writing a blog post ends up taking five hours of jumping up and down, instead of two hours of solid effort.

I find this endlessly frustrating. My entrepreneurial brain is constantly whirling with new ideas, and there are so many opportunities that I feel prevented from pursuing. Floor play with my child feels like a torturous exercise in patience when I know that my inbox is heaving with unanswered emails. The constant emotional pull between ‘you could do this!’, and being present for my little girl is exhausting.

I have an added challenge in that my daughter has autism and a schedule of therapy appointments that we need to keep. Her behavior can get pretty wild and she cannot be neatly slotted into my own agenda. Mothering her can be time consuming and exhausting, in the same way that having a newborn or multiple children can be.

"Those stock photos that show Mum or Dad working on the computer while a toddler plays contentedly at her feet are such a laugh, aren’t they?"

And that’s the thing – motherhood is exhausting, both physically and emotionally. In a world of social media expounding mumpreneur success stories and can-do attitudes, it’s a little embarrassing to admit that I fall far short of my potential, because, sometimes, I simply can’t be stuffed.

Thanks to the wondrous blessing that is childcare, I do have some child-free hours in which to work. But those hours are simply not enough to do everything I want for my business and my household and myself. Sometimes, I need to prioritise having time out.

I am a dreamer and an introvert at my core, and the demands of motherhood rarely allow for these things. I simply cannot be ‘on’ and productive all the time, and my brain needs chunks of  down-time in order to think creatively, which is essential for my job (let alone my sanity).

And so, as I consider my business goals for 2016, I’ve decided to cut myself some slack. I have realised that, while it may be frustrating to fall short of being all I can be, I can reduce that frustration and live a happier life if I change my expectations of having it all. And I am finding it is easier to accept letting go of some things if I:

  • Am proactively making the choice to do so, and;
  • Add the caveat ‘for now’.

I will let some business opportunities go, for now.

I will deliberately limit the amount of work I take on, for now.

And I choose to do this because, for now, my number one priority is to be present for my only child in these critical formative years. While her high needs mean she depends heavily on me now, I cherish the bonds of love and trust that we are creating together.

I will not forget myself in the process. I will not let my business die. But I will bide my time for a little while, and try to let the frustration of missed opportunities go.

After all, there will be a time in the near future when my little girl’s demands will lessen. And at that time, the world will still be full of potential customers with unfulfilled needs. My entrepreneurial mind will still spot opportunities and I will be more free to pursue them.

Until then, I will remind myself that keeping my business in a small box and not having it all is a conscious choice that I can make just for now.

Fiona Amarasinghe

is a Melbourne based kid's party planner and entertainer, through her business Easy Breezy Parties. When procrastinating over party preparation, she likes to blog about work, life, and her funny little girl. Connect with her on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram


  • Cathy Topping

    I can totally relate and sympathise. I have 14 months old twins, and anything resembling ‘juggling’ is a joke. It’s hard to work on your business and be a present mum…but I guess we all just try our best 🙂

    • I bet your whole day (and possibly night) is one big long juggle! I am finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel now that my girl has started kinder, and I’m getting some of the breathing space I need to get my mind (and business) back in order.

  • What an absolutely fantastic article Fiona and I think that articles and posts that portray everything as being fabulous and easy are a big contributing factor to soloists struggling mentally and emotionally. How can we not compare ourselves to all those who appear on the surface to have all their “stuff” together and not feel as though we’re failing somehow? I struggle with it regularly. Please don’t ever think though that you are, as you put it, falling far short of your potential – your potential doesn’t just lie in the area of your business, but in every area of your life. There is such a huge pressure for women to “have it all” and actually I believe it’s impossible – something always has to give, be it relationships, business, self-care or any number of other things. I defy anyone who says that you can work 8-10 hours a day, manage a home brilliantly, have a perfect marriage and social life, exercise and eat healthily regularly and feel as though you are somehow contributing in additional ways to society. The people we see who are apparently doing this, do so with a huge amount of support, either by hiring people or having family members to help. The majority of us live far from family support today and can’t afford to hire nannies, housekeepers, gardeners and cleaners (oh, how I wish I could sometimes). The sponsored posts that appear daily on Facebook that say “this time last year I was living in my van and eating scraps, but now I’m earning six figures from my mansion” are utterly ridiculous. Can people earn six figures from their mansion? Absolutely. But it takes years and years of blood, sweat and tears to get there – overnight successes are never overnight. You are fulfilling your potential every day, because you get up, you look after your child with her special requirements, you run a business and you do everything else that you need to – that I think is so special. We must be more gentle with ourselves and each other, we must forge connections that support and inspire us and we absolutely must stop criticising ourselves for failing to be perfect. Thank you for writing such a fantastic article. x

    • Yes to all of that! Thank you for such an eloquent contribution. You’ve voiced so much of what I too think. I agree that the notion of ‘having it all’ is totally misleading. It’s an unrealistic expectation, perhaps one that’s newly created by our generation. Huh, I think maybe I just found another blog topic!

      • I absolutely think it’s created by our generation (and by our, I mean mine, because I’m not sure how old you are – I’m 45). Will look forward to your blog post about it. 🙂

  • Wonderful words. This reminds me of Shonda Rhimnes recent TED Talk which is phenomenal and a MUST watch! I think that you too will relate! http://www.laurenparsons.co.nz/blog/item/shonda-rhimes-year-of-saying-yes-to-everything
    Such an inspiration on how to keep the balance and to keep the ‘hum’ (deep enjoyment of life!)

  • Great article. It’s as though I wrote this myself! You have put a lot of things in perspective for me, so thank you!

  • Fiona, you are very heroic and courageous. Well done on trying to find a balance that fits you and your circumstances right now.

    The wonderful thing about being an ideas machine is that you will keep spitting them out and they will lead to more opportunities for you when you are ready.

    As to the having it all myth – it’s such a crock isn’t it?

  • Amber Daines Ungar

    Such a perfect article on what I too have realised. Well said.

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