women careerDo you ever feel like your life is just one long checklist?

Life these days for women growing in their professional careers is like trying to cross off all the items off your checklist: education, work, personal health, marriage, financial security, and having children, just to name a few.

I, along with many of my peers, have found myself sucked into the idea that in order to accomplish what we want, we need to have a timeline with hard deadlines. The problem is, that while goals are great and deadlines can be hugely motivating, there are certain things you can’t control.

To control the uncontrollable, we look to sidestep it. A 21-year-old friend of mine is considering having her eggs frozen. She’s been so busy building her professional career that she’s afraid she won’t have a window of opportunity to have children before the ominous age of 35, when reproductive health starts a steep decline.

I am 20 years old, financially independent, working at a startup that I love, single, and freaking out that I will miss the boat if I don’t nail down a man and make him have kids with me before I turn 28. As I wouldn’t be able to work for a while, I’ve convinced myself that being pregnant will be a career liability.

High performing young women today, myself included, are used to succeeding and are petrified of failure. We are control freaks. It’s one of the reasons we are successful. But that very trait that makes us successful at work could be the Achilles Heel in our personal relationships.

It is possible to have a fabulous career without putting your life on hold. Here are some tips for making that happen:

Chill Out: Go out dancing, to a bar, or to a concert just for fun. Don’t worry about meeting the love of your life, don’t bring business cards, and leave the work phone at home.

Focus on Friendships: Focus on building strong and lasting friendships rather than finding ‘the one’.

Stay Grounded in Reality: Having dreams is important but keeping them realistic is key. Set short-term and long-term goals that will help you measure your progress without obsessing over set deadlines.

Find Yourself: Your 20’s are a time to understand who you are and what you want. Instead of obsessing over quantitative measures of success, focus on the qualitative things that make you happy.

Let Go of Control: Remind yourself that “having it all” and “having it all right now in the exact way I planned” are two very different things. Give up a bit of control and you will be happier, more at peace, and more successful.