Thursday, June 30, 2011

Having It All

In a recent article in the Chicago Tribune Can today's career women really have it all?, Alexis Grant talks about the message being sent to young women: "you can have it all." Alexis states that having it all isn't always as glamours as it sounds. She says, that while there is nothing wrong with trying to accomplish everything you want in life (career & family), there is a flip side.

Alexis believes, "When we give younger women the message that hey, you can do everything, you can have it all, it's all going to be perfect, there's a sense of almost failure when you can't do it all." As a career woman, wife and mother of 4, I have experienced the flip side - it's not all going to be perfect all the time. Having Healthy Expectations helps; what expectations are we sending to our daughters and younger women about having it all?

Gen Y expert, Christine Hassler's blog The Myth of Having It All states, "we expect that not only are we supposed to have it all but do it all at 100 percent: the career, relationship, children/family all while looking good, doing good and being good." She also says, " I see college women across the country following in footsteps that resemble mine, chasing after the having it all Holy Grail. yet when I ask how many of them feel an overwhelming amount of stress and anxiety, 99.9 percent of the hands go up in the room."

In Christine's blog, she says, "we should be passing down to the younger generation that having it all starts with honoring ourselves and the roles we choose to be a part of, whether it is mother, wife, CEO, politician or a mix of many roles, none are better than the other." We may find out that having it all is not about doing it all; it's about fulfilling who we are in whatever role we choose.

I have found that we cannot have it all, and that the Holy Grail is a myth that needs to be purged from our lexicon. My solution is to merge expectations - my expectations for myself, and for those around me. Learning to say no, delegating are strengths that contribute to my success. Learning to accept less than perfection is something I struggle with but is a fact of life.

Have you chased after the having it all Holy Grail? What does "having it all" mean to you?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Are You Prepared for Retirement?

The 12th Annual Transamerica Retirement Survey revealed that for many Americans their retirement strategy is simply not to retire. The research shows how largely unprepared for retirement most are, and how few have a backup plan in the event that they are forced to retire earlier than planned.

Planning and saving for retirement may seem like goals that are far in the future. Yet saving, especially for retirement, should start early and continue throughout your lifetime, especially for women. As stated in an article published by the US Department of Labor Women and Retirement, women are more likely to work in part-time jobs that don't qualify for a retirement plan and interrupt their careers to take care of family. Therefore, they work fewer years and contribute less toward their retirement resulting in lower lifetime savings.

Start asking yourself some questions:
  • At what age do I plan to retire? As the study states, "planning not to retire is not a viable retirement strategy."
  • How much do I need in retirement? According to the Transamerica Survey most workers will need $600,000. If you started saving $200 a month at age 25, with normal investment returns you could have it by the time you reach 65. Impossible? Not if you start saving now.
  • What retirement plans does my employer offer, and do I qualify? If you qualify for a plan - join now. If you work full time and your employer does not offer a retirement plan - open a IRA.
Once you have answered these questions you have started a retirement strategy for yourself. The quality of life in the future depends on what you contribute in the present. You will likely want to retire happily and comfortably with personal and financial peace of mind. The last thing your retirement should be is stressful for you and/or your family. Therefore, it is important to prepare a retirement plan now.

You can visit Employee Benefits Security Administration for some helpful resources on saving for retirement. So I ask, are YOU prepared for retirement?