Having it all is a buzz phrase these days, which can mean anything from having a family and a career to being independently wealthy, to working for yourself from some idyllic beach, and that’s part of the point. Getting to wherever you want to be probably won’t be a walk in the park, though, and that’s okay.

Even though I opted to enter the workforce without earning a college degree, I prioritized my career trajectory even in the beginning. I balanced work with social engagements while many peers went to college or spent more time socializing with friends. I worked my way up the ranks by learning everything I could get my hands on, working until the job was done, and not just when the clock read quitting time, and gaining the skills needed to make myself indispensable.

Over time, I rose in the ranks. I kept honing my skills, and working toward better solutions to the problems we encountered as a business, and things started paying off in big ways. I started out in the entry level ranks of retail, and now I am the Vice President of a nationally recognized staffing company. I just got married, and I know I can have my version of “it all”.  

You’ve got to get serious about your priorities. There are always sacrifices we make. I don’t believe in work/life balance—everything blends together, and it’s really about prioritizing. For instance, I often work late so I can take a midday break to get to the gym. Sometimes I work on the weekends, too. When I was 25, I consciously sacrificed my personal life to get ahead at work. I don’t mean to say this is for everyone, but I created a life that works for me (most of the time).

Your support network is also essential. I have a supportive husband who knows my career is a top focus. There will be many nights that I’ll be at work late, and work will take place on weekends as needed. In my eyes, it’s part of running a business.

I also know that for me, being sedentary at a desk can lead to irritability and burnout. Lately, since I’ve been working so many hours, I make sure to get to the gym to de-stress daily, make sure to eat healthy, and this weekend, I will make it a priority to get a massage to help relieve stress.

Creating a lifestyle that works for you is going to take work – it’s still taking concentrated effort for me to get where I want to be – but it is 100% worth the struggle. Your expectations, needs, and desires will be honed along your journey, and you will get more adept at switching gears and making refinements as time goes on.

It’s completely acceptable to change your career, even your whole life’s course completely, several times! So don’t be afraid to stick your neck out there, experiment, and try solutions that feel right to you. This is your one life – use it well.