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Is This the Secret to Having It All?

Mention the notion of “having it all” to any woman and it’s likely to be met with an eyeroll, followed by a resolute “Not possible” or, as I’ve frequently quipped, “Total fairytale.” Once upon a time, it was the rallying cry of smart, driven women, but today, the idea of being a great mom without sacrificing our careers seems like a complete improbability. It’s a lesson many of us learn once we become parents, desperately trying to balance job responsibilities and kids in those first few years.

As a working mom and wife, most days I feel like a blob of silly putty being stretched in several directions, inevitably spreading myself too thin and never quite giving anyone 100%. I’m not alone. Most women I know feel the same way. So when I heard about life coach Christy Whitman’s new book "The Art of Having It All: A Woman’s Guide to Unlimited Abundance" (in stores February 25), I had my doubts about the advice it would offer up. Serious doubts. Also author of the New York Times bestselling "Taming Your Alpha Bitch," Whitman reveals the secret to getting everything we want in this life. EVERYTHING? Really? I worked hard to keep my experience-bred cynicism at bay as I read. I’m glad I did. It changed my entire outlook on the issue and, dare I say, made me think I can have it all. But it’s a tough sell, to be sure.

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I informally polled a group of women—ranging from SAHMs to Wall Street titans—about whether they believe it’s still possible and the refrain was the same: “Puhleese!” Therein lies the problem, says Whitman. “It’s deflating and demotivating,” she warns. “How does that feel to just say, ‘We can’t have it all so I am going to have to settle. I can’t have everything I want.’ To me, that is depressing. Then what the hell is it all about anyway? To me, there is nothing more exhilarating than having a vision for your life and being able to fulfill it. It’s not so much about the end result, it’s about who you become in the process of manifesting it. But the fact that there are so many women who are resigned to you can’t have what you want is just depressing. We need to change it. We to change the discussion and start redefining what having it all is.”

How often have you stared green-eyed with envy at someone’s idyllic Instagram and Facebook posts, only to learn later they are incredibly unhappy?

You see, there is nothing wrong with dreaming big, as long as the dream is right for you, she reveals. The problem is when we have the definition of “it” and “all” all wrong. “Some people think it’s having the perfect house, perfect kids, perfect husband—first of all there is no 'perfect,'” she tells Mom.me. “That’s a total myth.” Often times, our wants are dictated by what we expected to want rather than what’s really in our heart, according to Whitman. The ideal life is not as cookie-cutter as we have been raised to believe. “Maybe a woman doesn’t really want to get married or have kids but that is what everyone is supposed to do, because that is what we’ve been socialized to do,” she explains. “So she finds herself married and having kids and it isn’t what she wanted. That is why I wrote the book.”

It’s the reason so many woman with seemingly perfect lives are actually miserable. It’s a familiar situation. How often have you stared green-eyed with envy at someone’s idyllic Instagram and Facebook posts, only to learn later they are incredibly unhappy? The reason is perhaps they weren’t being true to themselves as Whitman suggests. The key is to create your own unique goal. “There is the shallow part of it, which is having all the money in the world, all the pretty shoes and clothes,” she describes. “But at a deeper level, having it all is having access to who we are and having access to our own emotions and paying attention to the desires that we have and knowing we are creative beings and have the wherewithal to manifest those desires. So for anyone to say to me that you can’t have everything you want, it’s like, well watch me. What’s the point of having cake if you can’t eat it?”

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Though, it’s important to remember that it’s not simply about checking off a list of things we acquire. Most of us get bogged down by what she calls the “outside in” perspective. Real happiness comes from the “inside out,” she explains. “We are going after what we want, thinking that if I get this job, get this promotion, have this baby or land that guy, then I’ll be happy. But it’s backwards. If you are happy and find the essence of what you want, then you attract those things into your life.”

This will sound all too familiar to fans of "The Secret" and the law of attraction. If you feel as though you have it all, that you are successful, beautiful, talented, you will attract those things to your life. However, that doesn’t mean you can sit around and wait for it to happen. “There is a misconception about the law of attraction that you can sit there and hope that Mr. Right show up at your door,” says Whiteman. “But as I say in my workshops, the pizza delivery guy is probably not the man of your dreams. You have to leave your house. It’s not just meditating all day long and feeling fabulous. It’s the inner work of aligning yourself with the desires and the possibility that you can have what you want, then going out and making the sales calls, networking, going to a party, going out and getting those things.”

Of course, following this advice to a T doesn’t mean you won’t have dark days. Whitman herself admits negativity creeps into her head at times. The trick is changing that conversation you have with yourself. When you notice those thoughts—“I’m such a bad mom,” “I suck at this job,” “I’m a fatass”—immediately flip the script and be more positive. “It really is shifting the negative thoughts and emotions. So my advice is to figure out that feeling that you think you want. So if you feel that if you lose 10 pounds you are going to have more success at work, feel the success as if you were already 10 pounds lighter. Feel what it feels like to feel lighter or freer, whatever the bottom line essence of what you want,” she adds.

I’ll admit, the somewhat, new-agey feel may intimidate some readers, but Whitman’s book includes insightful worksheets to help you begin to shift your thinking about having it all. It really is worth a try. At worst, it’s not for you and you go back to that old, cynical view. At best, you actually get everything you want. Now that’s a risk worth taking.

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