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Heart Or Head?

Author: Lauren Coleman

It comes to all of us at some time. We find ourselves in a position where we have to make a choice between heart or head, weighting up the safe versus the riskier option and it can be a daunting place to be. When Hannah wrote to us recently asking for a dose of sage advice I knew so many of you would be able to draw on your own experience.

Hello lovely RMS team! I am a long-time reader of this lovely blog and find myself in need of some advice from you and your readers. I am nearing my 30th birthday, (eep!), recently married to an impoverished artist, and about to submit my long-battled-for PhD in art history. I always imagined myself as an academic. I was ok at school, and once I got into university I decided “PhD by 30,” but now that I’m here and academia offers little security these days I find myself increasingly deeply unhappy in my work life. Granted I’m currently only in a temporary admin job designed to keep a roof over my head whilst I wait to put on my floppy graduation hat but I’ve become impatient waiting for the amazing job I was promised by my lecturers. Plus I’m a grown up now, I want to be able to buy pretty things.
The main dilemma keeping me awake is that since finding my impoverished artist I have had my eyes opened to the joy of creativity, and I am now really keen on becoming more creative myself and making my living from that. I’m at home as a writer, as years of university have moulded me, and I’ve started writing blogs for some friends’ companies which I’m really enjoying. Plus I’m being very middle-class – last year for my birthday I did a pottery course which opened my eyes to the joy of making, and recently I’ve started dabbling in floristry which I really love. Can one really make a living doing these wonderful things every day? I know it’s not an easy life but I can’t help but feel that the satisfaction must make up for the long days. However nine years of university comes with debt, and the biological clock has started to tick so my sensible shoulder-angel is telling me I need to stay in my underpaid not entirely challenging desk job for the sake of security and the ethereal promise of advancement in a big company. Hoping I’m not alone in my crisis. Help?!?

In my own opinion, I’d always advocate following your heart but with a big dose of rational thinking, otherwise you’ll forever be wondering ‘what if?’ I’m far too risk adverse not to know where my next penny is coming from and when I took a similar path several years ago I set a firm deadline for reassessing whether I’d taken the right route both for me, James and our future. Thankfully I was able to pursue the freelance creative world alongside a part-time salaried position before making the leap.
Do any of you lovely ladies have experiences or any advice you’d like to share with Hannah? What happened when you had to choose between head or heart?

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Lauren likes Paris, Prosecco and Paint Charts
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44 thoughts on “Heart Or Head?

  1. Oh Hannah. This is very familiar to me- I finished my PhD and just as I submitted got what I thought was my dream job- related to my subject in a commercial field. But office politics made it very complex very quickly and when I had my daughter I left with no regrets. I’ve since written another book and had some minor journal articles published but my heart isn’t in it anymore. I am out of love with my subject and just feel done. The endless rejection of the academic job market and hyper critique of peer review is not good for me and my anxiety- in fact it is toxic for my mental health. Only 1 in 20 PhDs will eventually make it to a permanent position- I don’t have the energy to play the numbers game, let alone move around the country/world on temporary contracts trashing my family life to chase after it. When the littles go to school I plan to retrain as something completely different- thinking of social work or midwifery. I’m very lucky to have no debt, but it’s daunting to start again.

    Right, that’s me, so you know the background to the advice, which is: can you find a position linked to your PhD in a commercial area using your writing and styling skills? How about working in the marketing department of a gallery? Or auction house? Or maybe publications, cover design, art or flower magazines? Or could you drop a day a fortnight at work and devote that to growing your alternative career? You say you are interested in small people of your own- how rubbish is that job going to feel when you are having to leave them- tough enough when it’s a job you love. Can you build up an escape fund and skill set so when you do think the time is right you can make the leap? Part time floristry courses? Doing a few weddings for friends to build a portfolio?

    Really hope those ideas and thoughts are useful. Post ac pride!!

    1. I complete agree re the toxic academic atmosphere Lucy – you have to have a special kind of thick skin to deal with that or respond in a positive way and I certainly don’t have it. Was quite happy when I first got this job because I knew noone would be challenging or undermining me! Sending you so much good luck on midwifery/social working – can definitely see the huge appeal having a job that really helped and contributed. All excellent ideas, thank you so much. Post ac pride for sure!! xx

  2. Hi Hannah,
    I worked a over a decade in different banking roles with pockets and attempts at self employment until late 2014 when I opened my design led Stationery shop, after 18 months of both full time bank work and shoplife i quit. We moved and I took the opportunity to go for it with the shop. I’m now 14 months in to full time shoplife & loving life. It is incredibly hard work, full of epic highs and depressing lows but completely worth it. However on the side of this I have a husband in a full time secure job (which he loves). I’m a huge advocate for carving out a career & lifestyle you love and perhaps to get there a part time role in a linked creative job would help and not be such a grind? For example I employ five part time staff, all creatives, painter, woodworker, jewellery maker, screen printer & artist. They enjoy our shop environment & from time to time I can help with business advice to help them move forward.
    If I may suggest…. there is a book called A Job to Love from school of life, it discusses that we aren’t encouraged at school to find a career we love but rather what we are good at. It also suggests thinking about if your life was twice as long (say 200 years) would you make the same decisions over changing career?
    You have at least 35 working years ahead of you (10 ish behind you) do something you enjoy!
    You mentioned quite a few different things you were interested in, spend some time exploring what you’d like to do and research that market.
    As for the biological clock…. well I’m 35 next month and mine has been ticking loudly in my ears for a while now. But I guess I felt it important to have the work life balance accurate for both my husband and I before we commenced down this road…. oh and I’ve no idea how I’d currently fit it in but at some point we’ll figure it out.
    Good luck!

    1. Thank you so much for your thoughts Sarah, and well done you on being so brave and now having your lovely company! Part time definitely seems the way forward, and feels less scary than giving up salaried work altogether. I will definitely check out the book recommendation, and I definitely feel your thoughts with having the little’uns but as you say, you’ll figure it out. Sounds like you’re definitely on the right path! xx

  3. Hi Hannah,

    So many of us have been where you are. I was a super poor arts student who always dreamed of being a writer and I remember being afraid and falling into work that I didn’t hate but wasn’t true to my passion. In the end I took the leap, I think there comes a time in life when you question it all and for me I decided I wanted to love my life, to relish every day and to back myself on my dream. We only live once right? I wanted to live my life doing what I truly loved without regrets. I heard the most inspirational speech by Alan Watts, he said “if you finally find something that you want to do, do that and forget about the money because, if getting the money is the most important thing, you will spend your life wasting your time. You’ll be doing things you don’t like doing in order to go on living, that is to go on doing things you don’t like doing, which is stupid”. I love his speeches. I also believe, if you’re passionate about it then the money will come. I make more than double what I made in my old career now I’m a freelance writer, and I work part time. I love my job, it doesn’t feel like work at all. I say follow your heart every time. What is the worst case scenario? You don’t enjoy it or need more money and have to get a job – well, you’re in that position now so the worst case scenario is ending up back where you are already! You have nothing to lose! Good luck!

    1. I love that quote from Alan Watts Jess, it’s so true and so obvious! As you say – worst case scenario I end up where I am now anyway so definitely worth a plunge. Well done you for making it work xx

  4. Hi Hannah,

    I was given some advice once that has stayed with me – Your life is like a cup, people will always try and take from your cup…it’s human nature, we all have wants and needs. Especially bosses, husbands, children, parents, friends even charity work/volunteering. So the most important thing is that you make sure your cup is full. If, like soooo many people out there, your cup is constantly running dry, and you’re not filling your cup up- people will still take from it and the damage that will do to you is catastrophic (not living your purpose, depression, burn out, miserable, feeling like your life is completely unfulfilled, chasing the money.) You can’t help others if you’re not helping yourself first.

    So I realised, after being given this advice, that I had to find my own truth, my way and make sure that I always kept my cup full- that way I had plenty to go around (for my husband, children, mum, mentees, employees etc.) I ALWAYS prioritise my cup first- you are literally no good to anyone if you spend your life with an empty cup (but by the way, this is how most people live their lives- because it conditioned into us from birth. Most people moan and complain about their lives, marriages, weight, fulfilment etc.)

    I hope that helps? Self love, self kindness and self fulfilment is paramount to a happy life- I took a LOT of risks over the years and still do, some pay off and some don’t- but I am genuinely happy and fulfilled and a much better mum to my daughters and wife to my husband for putting my happiness first.

    Anyone who tells you to ‘grow up, get a real job, think about others etc’ aren’t living a fulfilled life- they’re just ‘parrotting’ the martyrdom party line that most of us are brought up believeing. We are not horses to be flogged to death, our life and our journey is uniquely ours and there are NO rules when carving out your path.

    One final note with regards to children- although your biological clock is ticking, you’ve got another organ that is shouting louder right now- and that’s your heart, and I believe that your heart is more important than any other part of you- listen to want you want, this is the universe telling you to follow your path.

    Also – read Elizabeth Gilbert’s BIG MAGIC- it is the most inspirational, creative book I’ve ever listened to (I listen to 2 audio books a week- it’s so good for your soul and development.)

    A huge big fat good luck- I can’t wait to hear how you’re getting on. xxxx Lauren xxxx

      1. Aw thanks Laura- well it’s been a tough journey at times- but I wanted to give my children a legacy, and everything I never had. So I knew I wanted to do something different…I never wanted to have to ‘ask’ for holiday, or feel grateful for paid maternity leave…I wanted to build something that meant I could be with my children from birth onwards…to be able to live your purpose and feel like you’re doing what you love (and getting paid well for it) and be the master of your own destiny is just amazing.

        If you ever want to talk or want to know more then just ask 🙂 I want to help as many people do this as possible xxxx

    1. That is so true Lauren – and recently I have felt like my cup is definitely down to its dregs. Last week I was crying at the drop of a hat, I had nothing left to give anyone. I know now that’s no way to live, and just means that both I and the people I love only get a shade of me. Thank you so much for your lovely words, I will definitely download Big Magic right now, audio books are all that get me through the day! xxxxx

  5. This is such an interesting debate…so my own experience is that after about 12 years in marketing/branding for charities I took a corporate job for a global company. Why? My husband and i wanted to move out of our flat, buy a house and potentially try to have a family. My heart is in more cause related marketing but the sector doesn’t pay well and has non existent maternity/sick benefits. I’ve been in my corporate role for just under 3 years and it’s not hugely fulfilling – but I have security and at this stage of my life that’s what I need. It’s definitely not a job for life and I fully intend to get back into something more creative when the time is right…i guess it just depends on your priorities. And you know – nothing is permanent these days – so even if you do make a choice that turns out to be one you need to change – you can do that. Good luck!

    1. It is absolutely about priorities Lou, I think that’s why I’m so torn. I know that if I want the lifestyle I do, and to have children and give them the life I want to then the security a big company can offer is so important. I think I’m going to try to move to a more challenging role in this company but make sure I fill my spare time with plenty of more soul-fulfulling pursuits – something my academic work just hasn’t left time for in recent years. Thank you for your very wise thoughts! x

  6. Hi Hannah,

    Although I am younger, and perhaps in a different situation, I can totally understand where you are coming from. I jumped into a law degree at 18, not really knowing what I wanted to do but hey – all clever people study law so it will get me a good job! I hated it and after 6 months I packed up and moved back home. I then got a full time office job that I was lucky to climb quite fast in, but I don’t love it. I have had sleepless nights for the last six months+ wishing I could turn back the clock to being 18 and doing a different degree. Only in the last two weeks have I thought sod it, I love all things interiors and always wished my degree had been in that, I am good at it, I have so many friends asking me to design their new houses and I enjoy it. Today I handed in my notice, got confirmation of the course and I will be starting my studies in Interior Design in September. I never thought at 23 I would be closing the door on a comfortable job with a comfortable wage to throw myself into a degree and a part time admin role elsewhere (that I am yet to find!!) especially with a mortgage and responsibilities.. but my mindset now is that life is too short. Working in my current role wasn’t making me happy and I would always be thinking what if, and at 23 I am still young, I have so many years on the career ladder left and I can spend them doing something I can enjoy – as have you. The best advice I can offer is to do what makes YOU happy, as long as you know you can keep a roof over your head and you aren’t making rash stupid decisions, then go for it. You will only be angry at yourself later on if you do not. We are all rooting for you, and I wish you all the best.

    1. Oh Katie I so understand where you’re coming from with the sleepless nights and even though I don’t know you I am so proud of you for packing it all in and pursuing that new course!! So exciting, I hope it goes brilliantly for you. Life is absolutely too short and work takes up so much of it xx

  7. I don’t think my experience is entirely relevant, but I have made a similar decision myself. I fell pregnant young, whilst studying in a field which would lead to a creative job. I had to give up my studies as the amount of time and effort I needed to put in wasn’t compatible with family life. I geared up to continuing with my studies once he was at school but then I met somebody. We moved in and wanted to have another child. I had to accept that my chosen career wasn’t compatible with this so have given up on it for the sake of raising a family. I am retraining in an entirely different area, not creative but something I am also good at. Old career would have been unpredictable, time consuming with awkward hours, not highly paid but I love it and am talented. This new career will be dependable and potentially lead to a high salary. My husband is in a low paid job and not ambitious. I think he would love to be a stay at home dad, so that’s something we will explore. For me, head won out over heart. The difference is my children are already here and I couldn’t justify missing out on so much with them to chase something which didn’t benefit them in any way. We have been poor for a long time and I’m tired of it. Things have improved for us lately and not having to worry about every penny is refreshing. I feel lighter and I want that to continue.

    1. I completely understand Jade, it is so so so exhausting having to monitor every penny, I’m so glad you’re in a position where that isn’t the case any more. This discussion has been so interesting because both head and heart have their merits! But I think where children are concerned you have to put them first, but without letting yourself fall away. A middle-ground is the win unless you’re very lucky. As I said earlier, my husband is also non-ambitious, in a job with a lowish income but he’s happy pootling along there so house-husbanding is definitely an option. How modern of us! xx

  8. Forgot to mention that the previous career is something I have managed to continue as a hobby. I could earn a bit of extra money with it if I wanted to but I haven’t gone for that so far. It’s bittersweet in a way because it reminds me what I’m missing out on, but I think overall it’s the best solution for me.

  9. What an interesting debate!

    I guess my input would be why at this stage does it need to either/or, why not both?

    While I’m not sure this is sustainable for the long-term, more and more people are starting a side hustle alongside a more corporate or secure role. Why? Because it’s a great way of dipping your toe into something that you’re totally passionate about, while having some consistency in your life.

    Both myself and my fiance have side hustles – it can take it’s toll with us both working evenings and weekends but as long as you carve out time for each other, it really can work and be incredibly rewarding.

    He has been ‘side hustling’ for around 4 years now and is now at the stage where he is thinking of taking it full time – we know this means a pay cut but he’s had time to establish himself so it will be nowhere near what it could have been. I am just reaching my 2 year anniversary of my ‘side hustle’; I’ve started to get a steady flow of amazing ‘ideal’ clients, with the aim of really establishing myself in the industry before kiddos come along, with the potential to take it full time at that point (allowing me to take on some of the childcare).

    I believe a side hustle is a way to figure out what you are truely passionate about; If you don’t love it then there is no way you would give up some of your free time to make a success of it!

    In other words, as many people have mentioned, I don’t believe anything is permanent and we’re in a world where more and more people have many ‘slashes’ to their name, we don’t have to be defined by one job or career choice.

    Best of luck and looking forward to hearing an update soon!

    1. I think you’ve coined a phrase there Katie with ‘side-hustle’! I think that is absolutely the way forward. Got to stop wasting my evenings (or certainly once the phd is in and I have evenings again) and make them my ‘me’ time. Well done you for taking that step, I really respect how much bravery it takes, especially at imminent-kiddo-age xx

  10. Side hustles are the way to go!!

    I work for local government, i quite like my job, but its mostly dull and the politics….don’t get me started! However, i’m on a really good salary, have AMAZING holidays and sickness cover and maternity cover and flexible working hours/conditions.

    Having a family is a special time, and you want to enjoy it without worrying about work and money. If you work for a good organisation, and have excellent conditions, then i would really recommend doing this while you are starting your family. I was able to take a full year off with my baby boy and enjoy as much of him as possible. i know lots of self employed people, who need their income, who aren’t able to do this and it is a big regret for them.

    Thats where the side hustle comes in, you can work on it while working and enjoying the holidays and terms and conditions, build it up as you like and get regular clients etc. You can keep it going while on maternity leave when your partner is at home after work etc.

    My boy is just about to turn 2 and I’ve started freelancing as a florist, doing weddings and building a portfolio. I’ve converted my garage into a studio. i might never do it full time, I’m working 4 days a week with the local government and have 3 days off work. i can spend this with my family and i do some floristry. it keeps it more of a hobby and time for me to relax and enjoy being creative. its my happy balance of life, family and work to provide for that life.

    Listen to your heart and your head, for now anyway.

    (make sure your artist pulls his weight too)

    1. Those benefits sound like they definitely make it worth it! I think part of the problem is that this is such an entry level job, so the salary is low. I always thought you worked for no money for love, but now I’m working for no money for boredom! But hopefully that will change soon… I’m just too impatient. Congratulations on your garage florist! That’s definitely my dream – I got really into it when planning my wedding and have been doing some courses and I just love it. You definitely sound like you have the perfect balance xx

  11. It pains me to admit it but after ten years in my safe job, I am beginning to feel worn down by it. I was literally the golden child a couple of years ago, I got promoted to my dream job but yet I still wasn’t that happy. It has become more and stressful and my big boss is increasingly intimidating. I think I’m also putting more and more pressure on myself to be the best which I think might be down to him too. The final straw was my post being cut and I had to find an alternative post all in the run up to completing on my first property. I should be happy but I’m just living for the weekends at the moment.

    I’m 32, I’ve also met someone lovely who wants to settle down too, and I wonder if it’s all connected? I’m more fulfilled outside of work. I just want to home make and have bubbas eventually and not have to go to work haha! I’m longing for the day maternity leave comes around.

    I’m also incredibly grateful for the 20% employer pension contributions, the leave allowance and the flexi time/leave I can take in comparison, not to mention six months full pay maternity. Because of these, I can’t see me ever leaving. I toy with the idea of part time after kids, and maybe even drop down a grade so I don’t have as much pressure.

    I’d love to have a you tube vlog, I’m such a foodie and a great organiser. I wish I could come up with a side hussle. I’d even thought about doing something like gel nails! Please could you do a feature on this kind of thing, ideas, franchises? I just want to escape the rat race already and I still have about 30 years to go.

    1. You definitely need a side-hustle Bunny! Lots to be said for putting as little pressure on ourselves as possible but some of us (me too) have a sadistic brain xx

  12. Not sure I can offer advice, I need some myself! But I can wholly sympathise. I think I’m being made redundant tomorrow and I’m currently on mat leave. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go back but we’ve just bought a new house that needs renovating and not sure if I can handle having to job hunt on top. I work in retail and it’s really not very compatible with family life so I’m thinking of trying something else but have no idea where to start. My degree is in dance so I’ve considered doing a MA to be a dance movement psychotherapist but I have to do voluntary work and dance classes to even apply which doesn’t work that well with two children also in the mix. My friend has retrained and is hugely talented with all things culinary but I’m struggling to find my passion. I just feel jaded and a bit depressed! I used to love dance and art but don’t even know what I’d want to do with those. I love houses and interiors but I don’t think I’m particularly talented in that respect. My issue is that I’m a perfectionist so I have a strong need to be good at stuff, otherwise I don’t the point in doing it! So yep I’ve not been very helpful but needless to say you’re not alone and certainly have a list of things you can explore. Life is short and I do believe in following your heart but with you also need a healthy dose of reality.

    1. Heart and reality, absolutely. Maybe you could also embrace the side hustle and try some different things with your dance? Such a wonderful skill, I’m sure your confidence would build again and you would find your passion x

  13. Well you are all marvellous and I’m sat here in awe at the wisdom and compassion of you lovely ladies, and feeling very inspired and not at all alone. I will endeavour to answer you each individually this evening, but what a sense of community and open-heartedness (definitely a word??). Just to throw another thought into the mix – do you think it’s more of an issue being a woman? I do feel like the maternity leave issue is the biggest one tethering me to the world of corporate work, much I know my heart would rather pack it all in and open a tiny florists. Interestingly Jade – my hubby and I often discuss his being a latte-papa (my fave scandi term for stay at home dad!) and though that would take some pressure off me as his job is also pretty low paying I worry I’d resent him that time with the littles… xx

    1. I absolutely think being a woman has loads to do with it. Despite working in the Civil Service, who is meant to be very fair etc, beign part time at my level feels like it is very frowned upon. I also travel with my job and I can’t see how I’m going to make that work once I have young kids. The Mat leave is great though so I need to stick it out! I just want to do something I feel passionate about now, (mostly food!).

    2. Yes, I think being a woman has a lot to do with it. I feel pressure to be a perfect mom, to do everything ‘right’ and also have a good, well paid and hopefully fulfilling career. My husband does not feel that pressure. I’m unsure how the realities of being a stay at home dad would affect him. I love my children very much. The oldest is now nine, so at school all day, and the youngest will soon be two. But I do find the drudgery and the isolation very, very difficult. My husband is likely to feel even less comfortable at play groups etc. I think there’s a bit of thinking the grass is greener on both sides. There is no denying that I am more ambitious so if I want our family to improve our finances and have the kind of lifestyle i would like, it will be down to me. I think what we might do is swap roles for a while, so he will get the chance to perhaps retrain and have a think about what he would like to do eventually. We don’t plan to have any more children so I can’t see that either of us would continue as a stay at home parent beyond a certain age.

  14. I don’t necessarily have any advice to offer, but I have been battling the whole head and heart thing a lot recently on the career front. The problem is that I haven’t really settled on where my heart wants to go and how I get it there! I agree with some of the comments above that choosing head or heart can totally depend on where you are in life and I think I might be in a good place to follow my heart right now so the wise words from you guys though have encouraged me to be more open to it and see where it takes me 🙂 Good luck Hannah and everyone else! xx

  15. I’ve not been in a similar position to give experienced advice, but if your heart is not in it, it will never get any better. Although the biological clock may be ticking you will probably feel the pressure to provide once you have a family much more than you do now. My view would be to give it a go while you do not have dependants. At least you know you have tried – I couldn’t live with that niggling ‘what if’ feeling. Give yourself six months/a year to explore your creative side – something amazing may happen!

    Good luck with whatever you decide.

  16. I don’t have any advice to provide but I have loved reading through the comments. I am a solicitor and I’m 30 years old. I have worked so hard to achieve what I have in my career and I now work for one of the leading firms in my region which is an amazing achievement. The trouble is I just don’t feel fulfilled! When I was younger I just didn’t know what I wanted to do, so I just did what I was good at – firstly, a law degree and then it just spiralled from there and the next step seemed like the logical step. And its true I don’t regret my decisions having gone down this path but now I feel like I have spent so much money and time investing in my career I’d feel guilty if I were to throw it away! I am dreaming of owning my own café/arts crafts place. I would love to be self employed and have a job I loved. I have also been thinking of a side hustle – investing in one of the citroen vans and opening up a small coffee/café place at the weekends at various places. I just need to find a cool £25k to purchase the van and then I am set!!

    1. Sarah I posted above too, but we are very similar! My dad offered to kit out a food truck type van for me to do coffee and cake from, but it wasn’t a pretty van, it was an old Mercedes sprinter! Plus I didn’t have anywhere to store it, or realistically any way of getting it off the ground. But I knwo exactly what you mean, there is one of those pretty vans in my area owned by two guys and the company is called ‘A couple of mugs’! They sell Teapigs Tea and cake. I would love a seaside cafe but equally, I do love my weekends off and everyone else wants to go out to eat then!

  17. This piece could not have come at a more relevant time for me. Yesterday, i got offered a full time contract, at my office job, as my two year one comes to an end in August. From one point of view I am all Yay! Job security, I know where the next pay check is coming from and one day i might actually buy a house. On the other hand i am sort of disappointed as I was hoping that they wouldn’t , as then I would have the excuse to go and achieve my level three in floristry.

    Talking it over with the friends on whatsapp when the offer was made, they have all said the same as the lovely women on here. Do it on the side and build it up or you will never do it. One of my friends does hair dressing on the side, and works as a receptionist part time to allow her to build her business and confidence up. I am not sure about you, but in myself and my hairdresser friends case, it is not even the monetary side that necessarily bothers us, as we both know that at the end of the day if it all went wrong we can always go back to office jobs. In our case it is the confidence to walk away from the norm. When we respectively said this, one of the girls on the group posted a screenshot from pinterest that said “Remember when you first started driving and everything was scary. Now you’re going 80, putting salsa on your taco, driving with your knees” I think that she/the quote is probably right. It will be less scary in the end, it’s just going to take a few lessons.

    Having said that, I have to admit I am only 23 and unable to offer much advice with the whole maternity leave side of it all, or even really the whole affording a house thing; but I will say that when I attend my local flower club, a lot of the demonstrators started floristry whilst on maternity leave as they could work freelance from home around their children.

    I hope this helps. I would certainly love a follow up to know what you have decided. In the mean time. Having just spent my lunch break on google trying to find an evening level three floristry course (this was in vain btw). I can say that there is a fair number of colleges offering level two as an evening course if that helps.

    1. I love that driving analogy Amelia! And congrats on the job security, at least that puts you in a great, safe position to think. It sounds like it’s all about the sideline passion projects! Xx

  18. Hannah, this is a very similar situation I find myself in every day. Things don’t always work out the way you’re promised and told, but when you feel like low, remember you’re not the only one.

    First off, don’t compare yourself to others. This is a toxic pattern with diminishing returns.

    Secondly, don’t rely on the internet to tell you what to do (I see the irony here). Chances are, you already know what to do, and were looking to RMS for some confirmation bias. We’re human. That’s what we do.

    There’s no reason you should stay in a job you don’t like just because it provides some security. You’ll be so unhappy long-term, and you have to spend a lot of your time at work, and hey, let’s face it; none of us are in for an early retirement!

    However, be really careful of the dreamy, whimsical rabbit hole of chasing the perfect job. Places like Pinterest and Instagram can be be terrible sirens for this, all ‘dream, believe and you’ll achieve anything you want!’ and perfectly edited shots of pretty florists sipping lattes. I’m not sure a perfect job exists, and anyone that tells you otherwise is an extremely rare find.

    I work in a creative industry, but have had to make compromises. Others that work in creative industries know that their compromise is lower pay, irregular work, difficult clients and being under appreciated for a role that is largely about subjectivity.

    Honestly, the best thing I ever did was find a a career coach. They won’t make your mind up for you, but a proper master coach who specialises in career transition will help you decide. Not the readers of Rock My Style. Unfortunately, it’s a bit of an echo chamber 🙂

    1. Really sage advice Sam. I’m 33 and have the “what the hell am I doing with my life” feeling. I’ve worked a corporate job for nearly 9yrs and was pretty good at it until recently when a couple of things happened that killed my confidence and I’m in a fug of anxiety. However I am very well paid and have a decent level of security. I’m now at the level I always wanted to get to but struggling to understand the point of it especially now in grip of anxiety. I’ve been reading a lot recently to try and help myself and have come across a guy called Mark Manson who has a website but I first read his book called The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k. Not a very promising title but a super interesting read and echoes some of what Sam says above. I was particularly drawn to the concept of life essentially being about solving problems- that is what fulfills us. And that no matter what path you follow there will be problems- you just need to pick the problems you’re most willing/able to solve. Doing a lot of mulling over that.

      The internet and RMS is full of folks earning their living being creative/building their own unique businesses and I salute these people. But they are painting some very rosy pictures of their lives – we all do this on social media. But there are a lot of folk working away quietly in corporate jobs that don’t lend themselves to pretty instagram squares. And that’s ok too – just less pretty!!

      My comment isn’t particularly relevant to your situation Hannah. You’ve clearly got creativity that some of us don’t possess and you likely know deep down what you want to do. I just wanted to share my thoughts as someone a bit stuck, in a corporate job but no creative talent for a side hustle. But trying to appreciate the benefits it does provide.

      Good luck to all you amazing women out there xxx

      1. Sam and Bridget you are both very wise and I do absolutely recognise the influence of social media. Then again so many of the amazing women writing here have either got to the creative dream job by slog, or they’re doing it on the side, so the rosy insta glow hasn’t prevailed here. It’s all given me so much to think about, I really appreciate you all putting such thought into your responses xxx

  19. There’s some really great advice here, you’re all so wise!

    Hannah – my situation isn’t exactly the same, but I fully empathise with feeling a little lost in what career I want and not knowing which direction to go in.

    I dream about doing a fulfilling, creative job (possibly floristry too), but I worry that a) it won’t pay the bills/pension and b) it won’t stay fulfilling – I’ve come to realise this is probably just who I am and I do get itchy feet every now and then. I’ve been lucky in that I’ve been able to move around industries a few times and try some different roles in which I’ve been able to use existing skills and learn new ones but this has left me in a bit of a jack of all trades, master of none situation. While it hasn’t helped me work out exactly what I want to be, it has helped me understand which elements of the jobs I’ve enjoyed and which I haven’t, so I see it all as a narrowing-down process and I’ll get there eventually! As long as your job doesn’t crush your soul, see it as a learning opportunity and take what you can from it while planning your exit.

    To paraphrase something I recently read, you can either take the leap now or stay as you are, but time will happen anyway so in five years do you want to look back and say you tried or still be wondering if you should take the leap. As Sarah said above, you’ve got about 35 years of work ahead of you, so make sure it’s 35 years you enjoy and don’t feel scared to change your mind down the line too!

    Try more creative things in your spare time, speak to people who are doing it for a living, perhaps volunteer or work part time in something that links your interests to get more of an idea for it before committing, and if it doesn’t work out, try something different until it does. It’s not easy but plenty of people have really successful creative careers so, if they can do it, you can do – you’ve just smashed a PhD remember!

    In my experience, things tend to work out, so good luck and don’t look back!

    1. I’m exactly the same Anna – within a ball park I’ve done lots of different roles within academia/galleries and now publishing, we’ll find our foothold eventually! Plus the exploring can be really interesting. Just not right now… good luck with your hunt! Xx

  20. I am also feeling confused about the future and my job. I am 34, I’ve been working in Publishing for 9 years at the same company but with no real job satisfaction, and definitely no salary satisfaction. I feel like I am stuck as I have a mortgage and the old biological clock thing as my compnay offers a really decent maternity package. However, I just don’t feel happy or fulfilled and I often look at jobs locally, only to be unsuccesful at interview or I just don’t find anything that inspires me. I am a creative person who has a real passion for travel, cooking, interiors, skincare and makeup. But like many of the ladies above, I just don’t know what do do with these interests.
    Sometimes I think about starting my own business but then I can’t make a decision on what that should be. I sometimes think about opening a little cafe but the risk is scary!

    1. I completely sympathise Sarah, but I’m sure your niche is out there! When I realise that I’m only actually in the office 38hrs a week out of 164 (maths??) it does make me think that I need to make the most of my mornings and evenings, so maybe join me in that and start a blog or explore those interests of yours via classes etc? From everyone’s fab responses I’ve decided its all about balance xx

  21. Hi Hannah, hope I’m not too late to the party on this one? I agree with the side hustle that the other ladies have suggested. I side hustled a retreats company for 12 years with my hubby while we made the (safe, well paid but dull) day jobs work, then last year we jumped into the abyss, set up our own centre and quit the rat race. There’s a time for everything, so maybe get the practice in now in doing those creative, lovely things that make your soul sing for now, then you’ve got loads of experience when the time is right to go big-time with it. Good luck! X

  22. Sorry for quick comment, I’ve loved reading everyone’s thoughts on this. Check out jess lively- she is fab and has some great content (free: written and audio via podcast… and paid: courses) on living life with intention (I also enjoy her stuff on finding flow) the great thing is you know your answer… you’re just on the path to discover it. All the very best xx

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