“I Want Two Very Different Things. Is 'Having It All' A Possibility, Or A Pipe Dream?”

Sarah's torn between two loves: what she loves to do, and how she loves to live. No matter how much she tries, they just don't go together. What do you do when your passions take you in very different directions?

What's your career history and current job?

I'm a legal consultant, working primarily with blue-chip corporations at the executive and international level.

How do you feel about your work?

In many ways, I think I'm in an excellent role for me.

I have a very strong track record in my career, and I like the reputation I've built over the past ten years. I'm well respected, in demand, and in many ways well suited to the nature of the work.

However, I am beginning to look at other options.

I've been very focused on one field for a long time, and I can't help but wonder what other directions my life could take. When I grow old and look back on my life, is it going to be enough that I had a high-flying career in one industry for all my working years? I'm not sure. I have more to offer than my legal and business expertise.

What would you like to be doing instead?

I'm pulled in two very different directions.

Everything I love doing for myself, outside of work, is about well-being. I love yoga, gardening, healthy eating, meditation, mindfulness… If I were to choose the obvious 'follow your passion' option, I'd want to do something in that field.

But I'm also very ambitious. Perhaps I've been effectively brainwashed, but I do want a high-flying career. I like the slow, peaceful life of well-being, but I'm also very attracted to suits and international travel and a sizeable pay packet. I like the buzz of the corporate world: the competition, the politics, the strategy and the energy of it.

I'm not sure I can give all that up.

What's the biggest obstacle in your way?

I can't seem to reconcile my two directions.

I worked with a career coach once and we ended up at a bit of a standoff, because she seemed to think my heart was telling me to set up a yoga studio. I had to stop working with her, because I do love that idea, but it's not all I want, and she didn't seem to believe me.

It's not going to pay enough for me to feel like I'm achieving everything I can, and although I love making people feel good, I want to feel good in my own way, too. I'm not sure I could give up my business-class travel, the ritual of dressing up for work, the ease of not having to think about money, and the pride I feel when I tell people my job title.

I could create a consultancy to bring well-being to the workplace, but that makes me feel a little embarrassed. It's the kind of initiatives that my current colleagues laugh at – superficial one-off programmes that HR bring in when employee engagement is low.

And part time in one field, part time in another… I'm not good at splitting my focus and energy. If I'm doing something, it gets all my attention, all my energy, all my focus. I don't want to find myself having to 'switch' every few days.

I feel as though I have two very different sides to my personality that can never really come together.

Is it really possible to have it all? Or do I ultimately have to choose?

Can you help Sarah?
  • Have you been in a similar situation, or are you in the same boat right now?
  • How do you think Sarah could move her shift forwards?
  • Do you know anyone she could talk to?

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