Career Or Family: How To Choose?

Last weekend, I returned home from New York City after a whirlwind week of 20 TV appearances, eight interviews with magazine editors at Glamour, Woman’s Day, Health magazine, Shape and other hot-shot publications, a Get Out Of Your Own Way workshop, and meetings with agents. Sunday, I was busy packing with my family to go to Lake Tahoe for my daughter’s spring break and to Big Sur to celebrate Easter (which happens to land on my birthday this year). Then the phone rang, and I found out that a major national television show you’ve all heard of (and that I’ve dreamed of appearing on) wanted me to hop back on a plane and fly out to New York to appear on their show.

I had been away from my hubby and 5-year-old daughter for a whole week, and we had been planning to spend this special week together for months. And I felt the familiar tearing between my ambition and my family.

Career Family Career Family Career…

Every time I get on a plane to fly to New York for some golden professional opportunity, my daughter and I both cry. Last week, I asked Siena, “Do you ever get mad that Mommy has to fly to New York so much?” (I’ve been there ten times this year.) And Siena said, “Mommy, I get sad. But I know people in New York need you just like I do. So I don’t get mad. Actually, I’m proud of you.”

So suffice it to say I’m raising a little Buddha — and she’s the most awesome, understanding, zen kid in the world.

Which is why, when I found out I had the opportunity to appear on this show to talk about how parents need to talk to their daughters young because they’re developing so fast and we want to empower them to love and appreciate their bodies, I felt torn.

On one level, it’s national television and great exposure. It would look great on my résumé and likely open up other national television opportunities. And it would give me a chance to demonstrate that I can shine, even when the pressure is on. Plus, I’m passionate about the message I would be delivering. You could argue that the ends justifies the means when it comes to fulfilling your life purpose and delivering your mission.

But what if it means missing a ski vacation with your family? What if it means jetting off — again — after you just got home, when you promised your daughter it would be at least three weeks before you had to race off again? What if it means she stops trusting your word and pulls her heart away just the teensiest bit because she’s tired of having her heart broken?

No way. I couldn’t do it.

So I made a request to the producers. Could they wait a week? Could I spend Siena’s spring break skiing, hunt for Easter eggs with her, cut my birthday cake with my husband and daughter, and then fly to New York to appear on the show? It seemed like a good compromise to me.

They Said No

But the reason they were calling was because I was quoted in a New York Times article, and they wanted to air the segment right away because it was “news.” Next week, it wouldn’t be. So they found someone else to replace me.

And my heart is heavy. I’m so disappointed that a tear is springing up as I write this. I was thinking maybe this was my big break. Maybe all the pieces of my sometimes disparate professional life would come together magically after Oprah saw how poised I was on this show. Maybe the Owning Pink message would miraculously spread around the world.

Or maybe not.

So part of me is bummed, but another part of me is uber-proud — proud that I didn’t let my ambition overrule my commitment to my family, proud that I didn’t drop everything to appear on national television, proud that I could set goals, but release attachment to outcomes and trust that the Universe does everything in divine timing.

So I am surrendering — yet again. I am closing my eyes and saying, “Take over, Universe.” I am breathing and smiling because my faith is beating the crap out of my fear.

And I feel blessed to be here in Lake Tahoe with my daughter. When I told her what happened with the show, my daughter said, “Mommy, you don’t need them. They need you.”


And so it shall be.

And now it’s time for a snowball fight. And sled-riding. And making another snowgirl.

What do you think? Should I have jetted off to New York and jumped at the opportunity? Or should I have prioritized my family over my career this week? Did I make the right choice? Would you have done the same thing? How do we balance these things — career, family, ambition, callings? I’d love to hear your thoughts….

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Lissa Rankin, MD: Founder of, Pink Medicine Woman coach, motivational speaker, and author of What’s Up Down There? Questions You’d Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend and Encaustic Art: The Complete Guide To Creating Fine Art With Wax.

Learn more about Lissa Rankin here.


Robert O.
Robert O5 years ago

Do what you feel lead to do and what makes you happy. You can have both, it's all a matter of finding a happy medium. In all honesty it can be hard to do that since many occupations are demanding (many times too demanding) and end up intruding on that all important family time, but the point is it can be done. It's all up to the individual to choose what they want.

Eternal Gardener
Eternal G6 years ago

Go where the heart is.

Mickey Gotti
Mickey Gotti6 years ago


KrassiAWAY B.
Krasimira B6 years ago

Agree with Rachel R.

Rachel R.
Rachel R6 years ago

You have to go where your heart is. I don't think mom have to stay home if they are going to be grumpy, or go if they are going to feel awful.

Linda Beuthe
Linda B6 years ago

Holy wow, some of these comments are insane. Don't feel ashamed for a second about your success. You're finding a balance that works for you and your family. Some of these comments suggest that it's a crime for a woman to want to have a successful career and not sacrifice everything for her family. Good for you.

Sarah Zemke
Sarah Z6 years ago

Thank you

Peggy S.
Peggy S.6 years ago

I won't take sides on this one. But here's something I've long observed: There are endless stories about kids disappointed that mommy didn't attend something because of her job. But how many of these kids object to having the money mommy earns to spend on soccer, ballet lessons, clothes, shoes etc.?

And how come we aren't hearing similar things about daddy's job? Military kids could probably contribute some very interesting comments on this.

The fact that this article was even written and published just shows how much sexism is still with us.

bb s.
bb s6 years ago

"Lynda G." and "Die Hard". Thank you, saved me a lot of time.

Loo Samantha
Loo sam6 years ago

thanks for the article.