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How to Navigate the Trade-offs to Design
a Work and Life You Love

My friend Lizzy’s college-bound son was weighing his career options, and journalism was at the top of his list. She told him, “Journalists don’t make a ton of money, but it could be a fascinating life.”

While there are a few exceptions, such as management, network on-air talent and high-profile columnists, the majority of journalists will generally agree their industry pays terribly, especially in the early years.

It is what it is...

What often creates discontentment in our lives is that we fail to see people and situations as they are, then we complain as if our circumstances should be different. We don’t see our businesses as they are. We don’t see our workplaces and relationships as they are, and we don’t own the price tag associated with our choices.

If you choose to be a journalist, unless you become one of the exceptions, the fact you don’t make a ton of money kinda just. . . is what it is.

That doesn’t mean you can’t generate money in other ways, such as writing books or public speaking; it just means those big bucks might not come from your salary.

… But it could be a fascinating life.

So what does that mean for you?

If you want to be a preeminent figure in your industry
...and make 6 or 7 figures from your company
...and manage a global staff

...and have a large family

all of that comes at a price.

That price might be long hours in which you miss the magic moments with your kids. It might mean challenging staff, brutal travel, crazy politics and vacations scheduled around fiscal year-ends, but it is what it is.

If you want greater stability and defined working hours, you might opt for a government career. You will deal with some hair-raising bureaucracy, slower career progression and other experiences that, quite frankly, don’t always make a lot of sense.

It is what it is.

If you want greater freedom, flexibility and control over your own time, then you may consider entrepreneurship, but that, too, comes at a price.

That price might be a lot of risk, uncertainty, fear and challenges. It means consistently putting yourself on a ledge and wondering if you’ll emerge as a champ or a chump. It means making money and losing money and figuring out how to make money again. It’s never a dull moment and rarely a “safe” one, at least in the beginning…


It just is what it is.

Most people treat their "Perfect Work" like a buffet line, where they request the most delectable of dishes and discard life’s “Brussels sprouts.” They want narrowly-defined working hours with long-term job security. They want the freedom to come and go as they please with extended vacations and a mid-level executive’s salary. And they want other people to pave the way and absorb all the risk.

Sorry, doesn’t work like that. It doesn’t work like that in your career. It doesn’t work like that with your marriage, and it most definitely doesn’t work like that with your kids.

As soon as you recognize what is, and stop fighting what is, you can determine whether you really want what is. Your decisions will become easier because you can honestly embrace the trade-offs associated with your choices—in work, in love, in life— as opposed to denying that trade-offs exist.

The drawback to acknowledging “what is,” however, is that you’re now fully accountable for the choices you make. No excuses, no blame-shifting.

So my  challenge for you is to take a good look at what you really want – in your work and any other area of your life – and determine what you need to get it. Ask yourself these six questions:

  1. What is required of you - physically, mentally, emotionally, financially and otherwise - to get what you want? 

  2. Is that really required of you or are you making any assumptions, consciously or unconsciously?

  3. Are you able to give what's required of you to get what you want?

  4. Are you willing to give what's required of you to get what you?

  5. Can you negotiate what's required of you to be more in line with what you're willing to give?

  6. What decision will you ultimately make as a result? 

The truth is you can have whatever your heart desires...but some trade-offs may be non-negotiable.

You simply have to decide if you’re willing to become the woman you need to be to get what you want.

Sometimes that means becoming “more”; other times it means becoming “less”.

It is what it is…

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