That prams and art are not mutually exclusive.

Having it all – or doing it all?

By Gillian Harrison

I’ve put a lot of pressure on Thursday lately. I have built Thursday into a Glorious Day. On Glorious Thursday I will get everything done. On Glorious Thursday I paint my toenails, stock my cupboard and service and clean my car.

The problem with Glory lies in living up to great expectations.

In reality, taking into account pick ups and drops offs, Glorious Thursday consists of 5 and a half hours with just one child. Five and a half hours to catch up on work, catch up on writing, catch up with friends, catch up with reading and catch up with myself. Did I mention catching up with online reading? Or catching up with emails? Plus, there’s always catching up on shopping. And household chores.

See how I set Thursday up to fail?

The Myth of Glorious Thursday unravels around the edges by about 1.30 pm each week. Like the busted myth that it is, Glorious Thursday collapses upon a hypothesis too far removed from reality.

I turned Thursday into my weigh-in day earlier this year. As soon as O went back to school, as soon as I knew I wouldn’t be at work, I penciled in Thursday as a day for striking a balance. I imagined myself dragging out the metaphorical scales and getting my work-life balance sorted. But, even with O at school, the washing never finishes, the writing never reaches completion, the dishes always need doing. Forever playing catch up is like chasing gold at the end of the rainbow. Impossible and way too much for poor old Thursday to handle.

I think the problem with Glorious Thursday lies in my perception of success. I’ve read enough articles and posts on work-life balance to know that I am not alone here. Somewhere in the last decade Work-Life Balance became the method for Having It All.

In the past I have been agnostic in my view toward work-life balance but now (as in about two hours ago) I decided I don’t believe in it. Not one bit. The balance part assumes that work and life are two different things, that it is possible to separate one from the other. But that’s like trying to cut off your shadow. The two are forever connected – the point at which they meet depends upon where you are standing.

“You can’t be successful at everything. We hear a lot of talk about work-life balance. Nonsense. You can’t have it all. You can’t. Any vision of success has to admit what it’s losing out on, where the element of loss is. Any wise life will accept that there is going to be an element where we’re not succeeding.”

(Source:  TED talk by Alain De Botton: A kinder, gentler philosophy of success).


What do you imagine yourself doing on your “day off”?

11 Responses to “Having it all – or doing it all?”

  1. Allison Tait

    Great post! Every day is Glorious Thursday for me. Every day. Every day it never turns out how I’d planned. And still I never lose hope.

  2. Sena

    Yep as above, everyday turns into Glorious Thursday with not as much getting done that I hoped. I’m just starting out in this world of the ‘Internet’ and trying to let it all sink in before I plunge in is the hardest. It’s nice to know there are many others out there, who also manage to get, not a lot done.

    • Gill

      I think Glorious Thursday is a common problem these days. The Alain De Botton link above goes on to say we (in developed countries) have never been better off financially and yet we have never suffered from more anxiety either.

  3. Lucy

    I do do it all, and I do have it all…..for about 3 seconds a week on a Sunday evening. But I am really not sure three seconds of smugness is really worth the stress that fills every other second of the week? xx

    • Gill

      I don’t think the stress is worth it, Lucy. It certainly doesn’t help me get things done!

  4. Andrea Stephenson

    You’re so right! Very soon I’m reducing my hours at work so I’ll have a day off, which I intend to use for all sorts of wonderful creative things – glorious Monday(!) I hope it turns out to be at least a little glorious!

    • Gill

      Enjoy your new glorious Monday, Andrea. I am now a firm believer that with less expectations comes more glory!

  5. sarahtsib

    oh glorious thursday how I hate thee. I have glorious tuesday, it sux that day. All those fantasies of reading, completing, thinking go out the window with me racing around saying ‘this is great, this is great’ and it isnt! I read Alain De Botton’s status anxiety last week, it made me think about this idea of wanting to be someone when in reality Im already too many things as it is…skype me on a Thursday. We can laugh about our crapness at gloriousness.

  6. remodelingpurgatory

    I used to be very disciplined about my “glorious weekend chores” but lately it seems I barely check one item off my list. The Internet is to blame for my failures. You can have it “all” but something has to go. Keep trying!

  7. Stella Orbit (@stellaorbit)

    For a brief time, I had a Glorious Thursday. Sometimes I used it for good – #nanowrimo for 2011, often I simply wasted it. However, trying to do everything is not the answer, it just makes you tired. And I was tired trying to do ‘everything’. Now, working full time, I have to content myself with moments stolen from time when I am supposed to be doing something else.

    If I get a day off again, I will only do soul filling things, not work, there is enough of that already!


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