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you dont have to do it all

Last week, I alluded to taking a break from grad school. To catch you up to speed, I've been working towards my MBA by going to school part time for the past year and a half. My employer covers a significant part of my tuition, though not all of it, and is fairly flexible about schedule changes because of school. Professionally, my team has been understaffed so I've had to take on additional responsibilities on top of a job that already requires 25% travel and work obligations after business hours typically once a week. Oh, and I'm getting married. So, I've got just a little bit on my plate.

At the beginning of this semester, my manager mentioned she could tell when I was working on finals because of my demeanor. I was really embarrassed because I take pride in separating personal, professional and academic obligations and apparently I wasn't doing it as well as I thought. She said, "you know, you don't have to do it all, Nicole."  I responded, "I know but I can."

It took four months, but I'm just now understanding the difference. "You don't have to do it all" and "you can't do it all" are two very different things.

You can't do it all refers to one’s ability which I was fiercely protective over. I do not like being told what I can and cannot do especially relating to my abilities. "You don't have to do it all" is about a choice and the control of your own path. I am choosing to carry a full plate and choosing to do it all.

And to what end? Why do people choose to do it all? I realized after some soul searching that doing so much gave me a sense of pride though it didn't fulfill me. In fact, it was quite the opposite. Choosing to do it all left me feeling depleted.

So, I’ve decided to take a semester off from school to focus on the things that fulfill me the most. Taking a break from school, and the reasons why this was the first area of my life to give, isn’t the point of this post. My point, and lesson to share with you, is that choosing what to do, and not to, is far more empowering than doing it all. The choice isn’t a reflection of ability, it’s a reflection of self awareness.


  1. This is so relevant to my life right now, Nicole. My boss said something to me very similar at the beginning of this semester but I'm just finally beginning to understand what she meant. I can do it all and want to do it all but it might not be what is best for me right now.

  2. Good for you! I'm happy to read that you've made the decision to return some of your focus to yourself. Good luck planning your wedding! I know how stressful it can be (I get married in 36 days).