The Elusive Promise of "Having It All"

Define your goals for career, motherhood, marriage, and faith

You want to succeed at work. You want to invest in your family. It’s the classic—and sometimes heart-wrenching—tug-of-war. Can you “have it all” as some suggest? And what in the world does "having it all" even mean for a working mom?

In an article for The Atlantic, Anne-Marie Slaughter made “having it all” a hot issue once again. Slaughter suggested that professional working moms really can’t do it all in today’s economic and societal structure. In her Atlantic piece, Slaughter examines how the “have it all” mantra can be more of an admonishment than an encouragement to young women today.

The responses to Slaughter’s article ranged from support to condemnation. Some applauded Slaughter for speaking out on the pressure of “default rules” permeating corporate, academic, and government office culture, while others criticized her for having an unrealistic perspective. Many drew comparisons between Slaughter and another high-profile executive, Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook. Sandberg has gained notoriety for asserting that women can have it all, if they are supremely strategic, creative, and ambitious.

Define your “it”

But there’s one question that I haven’t seen anyone asking: What exactly is “it?”

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Diane Paddison

Diane Paddison is a business professional and founder of, local groups of professional working women committed to faith, family, work, and each other.

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May 25

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