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Choice story: (1) Diana's children


February 2015

Diana has recently made a major shift in her career and in her life. She had been working for 5 years as an HR officer in a mid-size company.


I was passionate about my job and about my career. I have two kids, a girl aged 12 and a boy aged 4, but I must say my work was my priority n°1. Kids came n°2.. I was doing a lot of extra-time at the office and I would come back home late. I had some help from my mother to take care of the kids but I often felt guilty. When I was at home, part of myself was still at work. My brain was split. I never completely shut down. I had heavy responsibilities at work and I am always very dedicated to what I do, so I kept thinking of what I had to do to at the office. I sometimes had to cancel at the last minute commitments I had made with the school because of emergencies at work. 

Then, on last January, there was a change in the organization of my company. It caused me to spend even more time at work, my workload was doubled without neither any extra payment nor any recognition. I began to be upset. But I went on during a few months. In May, I heard about a job opportunity as an executive assistant in another company. I had not decided to leave my job but still I decided to go to the first interview.

About at the same time, while I was at home, I started to be moved by my daughter’s remarks. “what’s wrong with you Mum ?” she told me several times. She said I was not with them when I was at home. She was right…The first times she told me that, I just did not pay attention, or did not want to. But then came the moment when it touched me.

So, I went to the interview. This was a bigger company; if I were to take the job, I would even get a better pay than the one I had, and I would not be expected to do long hours every day.

That was a tough decision … I did not have an offer from them yet but I had a feeling that they were going to extend an offer.

I talked to my husband and he told me he would support me whatever the decision I would make. I also talked to a former boss who was some sort of mentor to me. His advice was that I should go ahead with the company I was working with, but trying to move to another position. In a way, this made me clarify that I did not want that…

So I went to my HR VP, and told her about my intention. This was a huge risk since I did not have the official offer from the other company but it was important to me that I was upfront with her In fact, she was very supportive; after this meeting, I had her blessing!  This reinforced my decision and it made me feel so much better !

Deep down in myself, I was realizing  my kids should be my priority now, it was my duty as a mother.

Then I got the official offer from the other company and I started working for them in July.

That does not mean this was a simple choice. She had to overcome a lot of fears and hesitations and she reports this period as a very uncomfortable one.

It was one of the most difficult decisions in my life.  When I had negative thoughts, I would always have the picture of my kids in my mind. I always came back to it when I was losing ground. And also, I told myself I could always go back to HR if I want when my kids are older.  In five years time, they might not need me as much as they do today.  I did not burn bridges. But at least, I won’t have regrets. Sometimes I was worried that mentioning a job of executive assistant will not be good for my CV. But, finally, I told to myself: “Who cares ? What makes me happy ?”.

I must say not only my husband but also my close family (my parents, my sisters) were supportive.  I think my family's opinion meant a lot to me.  If they had been completely against it, I would not have made this step.

Actually signing for the new job was difficult. I was telling myself: “ this is actually happening !”. My last week in my former job was terrible. I felt the world was turning upside down. Moreover, my grandmother was at the hospital and passed away.

There again, the picture of my kids helped me. My husband, too, helped me not looking at things as if it was the end of the world.

Now, I am so happy with my new life. I am at home almost everyday short after 5pm. And the job is not what I could fear, I enjoy it, I have responsibilities, I am well considered, I am bringing a lot of the things there I’ve learned before. It’s a big company but I get the best of both worlds: I work in a small unit, there is much fun. And it is ok with everyone that I leave at 5pm, with only a few exceptions… which are paid by the way (!).

I took a huge risk that I could have easily regretted.  I was afraid that I was going to sacrifice my happiness for my family's happiness.  Thankfully, I got the best of both worlds.  The more time passes by, the more thankful I am to have made this move. 

Editor’s notes:

This story is a beautiful illustration of Goethe’s text on engagement .

 The choice stories that are posted here are one way in this site to approach  the topic of key choices in life. Another way is an on-going series of papers, partly based on those stories; two of them are already posted: Key choices in life: (1) what makes them special... and sometimes difficult and Key choices in life: (2) is there such a thing as a wrong choice ?  

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