What are you striving for?

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Recently a journalist from Stuff asked me to comment about research released by AUT showing that women over 50 had the most work life balance and satisfaction with life and careers, while the opposite was true of women in their late 20s.

This interview got me thinking about how many clients and others I come across who are constantly striving. Striving to do more, be more, have more… and they’re completely exhausted.

I’m all for self-improvement and pushing to reach your highest potential. But when the drive towards these things comes from a deficit mindset (I’m not good enough, I don’t know enough, I don’t have enough etc) – or when you don’t actually know what you’re striving for or why – then it becomes an exhausting uphill battle, and one you’re unlikely to win.

Here’s how the interview went:

When you look back on your career in your late 20s and early 30s did you feel like you were satisfied with your career, were you challenged and excited to work or the opposite?

I was one of those people who fell into a career due to circumstance rather than choice. Raising two children on my own, I put myself through journalism school and then moved into corporate communications. There really was no such thing as balance in my life at that time, and it was more about survival than being focused on having a challenging or fulfilling career.

Did this change as you grew older? Do you feel like you've now achieved that work life balance?

It definitely changed as I grew older. Partly because my circumstances changed, which gave me more choices, but also because my mindset changed.

I see this a lot with older clients whose confidence has grown to the point where they stop feeling the need to strive so hard. There’s something incredibly freeing to get to a place where you can say, and believe, “I am enough”. Once you get to that point, any learning and development is purely for enjoyment and is based on what really matters to you.

It’s also about getting to a place where you realise: “I get to choose” – what you do for a living and how you live your life.

I’m now doing work that I am absolutely passionate about so I find it energising and, being my own boss, I also get to dictate the hours. So yes, now in my early 50s, I do feel I have reached an ideal balance of work and home life.

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Imagine how different you might feel if you told yourself “I am enough”. What if you lived your life on purpose, consciously choosing ways to develop and improve based on a deep sense of belief in yourself? And what if every move you made from that point was in pursuit of what deeply mattered to you?

Fuelled with that kind of motivation, chances are you will be energized and thriving, rather than exhausted and striving.

If you need help getting clarity on what matters to you and where you want to take your career, feel free to get in touch


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About the author: Lucy Sanderson-Gammon, MBA, is a Wellington-based career coach helping mid-career professionals who have fallen out of love with their jobs to find meaningful work. She also provides career development for those who want to get ahead at work or make a transition after redundancy.