You don’t have to sacrifice your professional ambitions because you feel guilty about living up to the demands at home. You just need to learn how to stop trying to do it all.
That was the message during my on-one-one conversation with Tiffany Dufu, chief leadership officer of Levo, at the Black Enterprise Women of Power Summit.
Her new book Drop the Ball: Achieving More by Doing Less is part memoir and part manifesto of how modern women can have it all, but only if they accept that they can’t do it all.
In our conversation, Dufu was candid that she used to be a self-described “hot mess”—a woman whose entire professional career was working for the advancement of women and girls but who was on “Stepford wife autopilot” in her personal life.
Despite her demanding job and the exacting standards she held herself to at home, she managed to keep it together until she went back to work after the birth of her first child.
Dufu admits that it took her three years to be ready to drop the ball and to figure out just how to do that. Here’s what you should do when you’re ready to stop trying to do it all:
1. Get clear on what matters to you
It’s impossible to figure out what you can let go of, what you need help with, and what you should be spending your time on if you haven’t yet figured out what’s actually important to you. In the book, Dufu lays out the two exercises she did to gain clarity, but what’s important is that you take the time to give voice to your deepest desires.
2. Delegate with joy
Unlike imaginary delegation, when you delegate with joy not only are you clearly communicating to your partner what you need from them, but you’re telling them why you need it. And that “why” ties into what matters most to you, so while you may be saying, “I need you to do more chores,” you’re really saying, “I need you to help me achieve my purpose.”
3. Drop the ball—and don’t pick it up
Dufu knows from experience that it can be scary for women who always prided themselves on being “good”—good students, good daughters, etc.—to release the expectation that everything is your job. But the world won’t end if you’re not the one doing it all.