Climbing the career ladder – the work-life balanceMonday, April 12, 2021
AMBITIOUS women are constantly asking themselves one question: How much am I willing to lose in order to gain the life I want? And there is never a straightforward or one-size-fits-all answer. Ask any woman who has experienced any level of success in her career and she will tell you how much she had to sacrifice to get there — time with family, relationships, marriages, friendships, physical and emotional health, and whether and when she has children. After all, if you intend to shatter glass ceilings, it is inevitable that some splinters will fall on you in the process.
These women have their share of scars from those splinters, and they still hurt. As they reflect on the sacrifices they made to get where they are, they tell All Woman some of the things they wish they had done differently as they climbed the career ladder.
Mary, 50, senior banking executive:
I wish I had put having a family first, instead of trying to climb the corporate ladder, and caring so much about what the other managers would think about me ever having a family. I made the sacrifice to put my job first, and I now regret it. I'd spend hours and hours at the office, and would even penalise the junior staff members who had kids or who made their kids priority. I was like the Energiser Bunny, just trying to make a profit year after year, with no care for having friends, a husband or children. Now I'm near retirement and I realise the error I made, because they're looking to replace me at work with a younger, more vibrant person, and I have nothing and no one to go home to when I leave work, and not even close friends to confide in. I realised too late that I am replaceable, and it's too late to change the trajectory of my life.
Anika, 42, business manager:
I am single and yes, I regret where I am now because it's very challenging to meet people at my age. Most men my age are interested in having, or already have children, and obviously I can't provide that. So while I have some wealth, the fulfilling life I'd want is just not achievable. While I wouldn't change anything about the field I'm in or what I had to sacrifice to get there, I wish I had made more effort to try to date and form meaningful relationships when I was younger.
Rochelle, 43, medical doctor:
I never wanted to have kids — there was never that instinct to, as happens with some women. But I always assumed that I'd make the compromise and have one or two when I met someone — but that never happened. I'm also invested in my practice, but it's not like I'm invested to the point of being a workaholic. What would I have done differently? Not much — probably tried harder to show interest in the men who were interested, but I wouldn't call it a loss, and wouldn't say that my life is wanting because I don't have a husband and kids.
Kimesha, 47, retirement home owner:
With my job I feel like I'm contributing to the world, but I've lost out on relationships because it takes up so much of my time. Now I'm dating someone who understands the passion I have for my job, so I don't necessarily feel like I have sacrificed anything. I'm a lot happier than many of my friends with children, and when I have that itch for some little people companionship, I invite my nieces and nephews over for quality time.
Denesha, 40, social worker:
It's just the children part that I regret a little, not the husband part, because men are not worth the stress. Sometimes I imagine what my life would have been like if I had a few kids, but I never got around to it. The job was just too intense, and some of the things I've seen, boy I wouldn't want to be mentally projecting that on to a family. If I had to do it all again though, I would have probably had children, just so I'd have family who love me unconditionally, and who could put a smile on my face at the end of an awful day.
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